×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TV Review: ‘True Detective’ Finale: Now That’s How to Do an Anthology

If “True Detective” is still running years from now, as it probably should be, the filmmakers and HBO can thank the incredibly fortuitous timing of casting Matthew McConaughey (yes, the Oscar-winning actor, not the “Failure to Launch” dude) and Woody Harrelson in the central roles – a pairing that not only elevated interest in the series, but which suggests the sky’s the limit for finding new players for future seasons. Indeed, such speculation has already become its own Twitter meme, although personally, how could you beat Matt Damon and Michael Douglas in “True Detective: Behind the Candelabra?”

All kidding aside, perhaps foremost “True Detective” – which wrapped up its eight-episode run Sunday – lays out the template for an anthology approach that helps reinvent, or at least invigorate, one of the most tried-and-true genres TV has ever produced. Think “Police Story,” the 1970s classic, stretched to miniseries form, with all the latitude pay cable provides.

Frankly, the build-up to the finale (and spoilers lurk ahead if you haven’t watched) practically ensured some would view it as a letdown. That’s because writer Nic Pizzolatto and director Cary Joji Fukunaga had cooked up such a succulent brew of weirdness and eccentricity till now that anything providing closure was destined to feel slightly pale in comparison.

The solving of the mystery and faceoff with the creepy killer more than anything brought to mind “Psycho” — with the tension of following him through that bizarre maze, followed by what amounted to an extended postscript, delivering back story to putty in some of the blanks. Not that they really matter, since this was all about the journey.

Although McConaughey has closed the door in regard to reprising the role, the way the filmmakers left the mismatched, reunited pair was perfectly satisfying – with McConaughey’s Rust still spouting his half-assed philosophy, and Harrelson’s Marty acting like he was stark raving nuts, albeit (with all they’ve been through) in sort of a bemused way.

While McConaughey obviously had the showier role, it’s worth noting Harrelson has been every bit his match, with both men doing some of the finest work of their careers.

Admittedly, the series anthology – with each season operating as a self-contained unit – has already surfaced in the form of commodities like FX’s overrated “American Horror Story.” Conceptually, it’s a clever means of keeping a franchise alive while being able to see a story through to its conclusion, and as a bonus a means of enlisting actors who might not want to commit to five or seven years.

Whatever comes next, there’s no way to view “True Detective” as anything but a rousing success, with a glitch pertaining to HBO Go merely demonstrating the rabid appetite for it. Because if cop shows have become TV’s answer to McDonald’s, this was the equivalent of LudoBites – springing up to deliver unexpected treats for a refined, upscale palate, and poof, just as quickly moving on.

As for those lamenting that we won’t get Harrelson and McConaughey in future editions, hey, who knows? If the show is running 10 years from now, by then McConaughey might just be ready to meet that future version of himself.

Popular on Variety

TV Review: 'True Detective' Finale: Now That's How to Do an Anthology

More TV

  • Will Arnett Joins BBC Soccer Comedy

    Will Arnett Joins BBC Comedy ‘The First Team’ From ‘The Inbetweeners’ Producers

    Will Arnett and Chris Geere will star as the chairman and coach of an English soccer team, respectively, in “The First Team,” a new comedy for the BBC from the producers of “The Inbetweeners.” The series will follow the off-the-field misadventures of three young soccer players played by Shaquille Ali-Yebuah (“The Feed”), Jack McMullen (“The [...]

  • 'Game of Thrones' Fashion at the

    'Game of Thrones,' Fashion Slayers: HBO's Drama Winners Also Shined on the Carpet

    The cast of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” knew how to make an entrance (and an exit) on Sunday night at the Primetime Emmy Awards. Before winning the night’s final trophy, Best Drama Series, stars like Emilia Clarke and Gwendoline Christie pulled out some fantastical looks on the purple carpet, with Clarke donning the mother-of-all-earrings by [...]

  • Emmys Fashion: Best Dressed on the

    Emmys: Best Fashion on the Purple Carpet

    The biggest stars in television stepped out on the Emmy purple carpet on Sunday night in a stunning display of gowns and vivacious looks. Fashion expert Brooke Jaffe, who visited Variety’s set after the show, picked some of her favorite dresses of the night, which included Zendaya’s truly enviable Vera number and Mandy Moore in [...]

  • Emmys 2019: Biggest Winners and Losers

    Winners and Losers of the 71st Emmy Awards

    The 71st Emmy Awards was a spectacular affair for the Brits, while broadcast networks all but vanished. Watch Variety’s Elaine Low and Audrey Yap unpack TV’s biggest night of the year, which saw “Game of Thrones” and “Fleabag” take home the top prizes, winning best drama series and best comedy series, respectively. Popular on Variety

  • Atmosphere71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, Show,

    Emmy Viewers Not 'Feelin' Good' About Bizarre Music Choices

    It was known ahead of time that the Emmy Awards planned to dispense with a traditional orchestra or pit band for the walk-up and bumper music. What wasn’t anticipated was that the music choices were being outsourced to a bar mitzvah DJ in Des Moines. Or, very possibly, it was a local who had found [...]

  • Atmosphere71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, Show,

    Emmys: Big 4 Broadcasters Post Lowest Combined Wins Ever

    The Big 4 broadcast networks put a cap on their worst year in Emmy history on Sunday night. ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC brought home just 16 Emmy Awards — the lowest combined total in history for the four major broadcast networks. The previous low was 19 combined wins in 2016. Last year, the networks [...]

  • Karamo BrownLA LGBT Center 'Hearts of

    Karamo Brown Addresses Backlash Against Sean Spicer Comments

    Karamo Brown has doubled down on comments he made about his fellow “Dancing with the Stars” contestant Sean Spicer, in which he promoted the idea of meeting political adversaries “in the middle.” The amicable “Queer Eye” host received criticism when he said he was “most excited to meet” Spicer ahead of the show’s 28th season, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content