All I'd heard about True Detective going in was an almost off-hand tweet comparing it, favourably, to The Wire. After only one episode it's too early to say how well that comparison will hold up, long-term, but what a first episode. Slow-burning but purposeful; interesting characters with real personalities and histories - it's easy to forget how bad most TV writing is until a show like this comes along to kick everything else in the ass.
Despite being framed by a narrative device that basically is exposition, the unfolding story never feels like you're being spoon-fed. Cutting back and forward between the 1995 investigation of a murder and the detectives' deposition interviews in 2012, it's stunning how little of the plot is actually told rather than shown. What isn't said is as informative as what is; one cop's admission that it was "nearly three months before we had [my partner] over for dinner" is a statement loaded with implications about their professional and personal relationship.
If there's one thing bugging me about the cast, it's that my mostly-comedic experiences of Woody Harrelson are getting in the way - but that was also a concern with Bryan Cranston early in Breaking Bad and that turned out okay. Matthew McConaughey's outsider - he comes to the Louisiana State PD from Alaska by way of Texas - has some convoluted dialogue to get through, unusual and theatrical compared to the other characters, but it helps build the character's "different" air, alongside his unfamiliarity with local customs and politics.
My only other complaint about True Detective is that it's not due to reach the UK until Sky Atlantic picks it up in February. Who are we going to talk about it with until then?