HBO’s Michael Lombardo Takes Blame for ‘True Detective’s’ Season 2 Struggle

'True Detective' Season 2: HBO Pres
Courtesy of HBO

HBO programming president Michael Lombardo said the short deadlines he imposed on “True Detective” creator Nic Pizzolatto were to blame for the poor audience reaction to the second installment of the anthology series.

“Well, you know what? I set him up. To deliver, in a very short time frame, something that became very challenging to deliver,” Lombardo recently said on KPCC’s The Frame. “That’s not what that show is. He had to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. Find his muse. And so I think that’s what I learned from it. Don’t do that anymore.”

The first season of “True Detective” earned five Emmy Awards and was nominated for seven others — including acting noms for leads Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson and for Pizzolatto for writing. Lombardo said in the interview that he attributed this to the fact that “Pizzolatto had been thinking about [it], gestating, for a long period of time.”

The second season debuted a year later and suffered in the press. Variety critic Brian Lowry wrote of the second season premiere that fans should “temper their enthusiasm” that year and, upon the finale, called it a “major disappointment – not just compared to the original, but on its own turgid terms.”

“He’s a soulful writer,” Lombardo said of Pizzolatto. “I think what we did was go, ‘Great.’ And I take the blame [for season two]. I became too much of a network executive at that point. We had huge success. ‘Gee, I’d love to repeat that next year.’”

Lombardo had previously praised Pizzolatto’s work at last summer’s Television Critics Association press tour, where he said he did not want to be “micro-managing the process.”

HBO recently signed an overall deal with Pizzolatto that would keep the scribe with the premium cabler through 2018. It has not announced whether “True Detective” will be back for a third season.

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  1. Dem says:

    We have the right to apologize in this job! I thought np was the best writer of all time ! No !? np is so strong to write 8 episode alone in 3 months of summer ! little mouse

  2. Mark L says:

    There was nothing wrong with Season 2, just wasn’t weird and crazy, like Season 1. It was no different from other current shows, which is probably why it rated lower. Not what people expected

    • c o says:

      There were enough aerial shots of LA to fill an entire episode. Who goes running into the woods when being chased by bad guys? I could go on and on… S2 was just awful….

      • Unbiased says:

        It wasn’t perfect, but it was unfairly judged based on the expectations from Season 1. Still better than most other shows out there.

  3. We'll... says:

    It seems that Lombardo is recanting his “love” of Season 2 by getting the TCA press ready for an announcement of Season 3. “True Detective” is no “Fargo”–a show that was an equal in its brilliant storytelling in its 2nd season to its 1st.

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