True and Not-So-True Detective
May 19, 2015 1:59 AM   Subscribe

With the release of a new trailer for True Detective Season 2, and an accompanying Q&A in Medium, Nic Pizzolatto dispels earlier speculation that Pynchon's The Crying Of Lot 49 would serve as an inspiration for the upcoming series. This speculation (or diversionary online discussion forum tactic?) was discussed here previously.
posted by hippybear (50 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Needs more Matthew McConaughey.
posted by foobaz at 3:03 AM on May 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Needs more secret occult history of the US transportation system. Seriously disappointed that was pulled.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:19 AM on May 19, 2015 [23 favorites]


Great cast except for Vaughn who's I've hated in everything.
posted by octothorpe at 3:51 AM on May 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


Vaughn's line "Sometimes your worst self... is your best self" is like comically silly. It's like something out of Darkness at Noon, the parody prestige-TV show that Alicia Florrick occasionally binge-watches on The Good Wife.
posted by Sokka shot first at 4:07 AM on May 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


Instead of taking a break from the occult, they should have taken a break from the grimdark. What if Season 2 had felt like Peter Levenda's Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

I have faith, though.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:36 AM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Vaughn is a great comedian. These brief glimpses aren't enough to make me see him as a serious actor, but if anything can do it, it's TD.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:36 AM on May 19, 2015


Hard to see from this trailer how it will be any different from any other cop show. The first season of TD was clearly something different, a real imaginative stretch even with all the borrowing & flat circle philosophizing & disappointing finish. This (from this trailer!) doesn't seem to be singing the same song. I hope I'm wrong!
posted by chavenet at 4:46 AM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't think Vince Vaughn has ever put himself into a position to act in a role like this before, and on preview, what anotherpanacea said.

I also don't think we should take *everything* said in the Q&A at face value. It's not like Pizzolatto has no incentive to keep the show generating conversation over the course of it's run.

It could very well turn into something like Joe Landsdale's The Bleeding Shadow

A new story with a new cast and a new location? As told by the same team that has proven to be very good at their job? Yes Please.
posted by jefflowrey at 4:54 AM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sounds like he's pulling away from a lot of the weirdness that made True Detective interesting. I can see why they might want to do that, they don't want people wondering if Cthulhu will show up at the end again, but I hope it does does find some kind of unique flavor and not just end up as The Killing (US) or Low Winter Sun or something.
posted by Artw at 5:47 AM on May 19, 2015


I really like the concept of TD, totally changing everything with each new series. It's really going to be hard for the new series to live up to the standards of the first, though. I understand the trepidation everyone feels about Vaughn, but I'm more than willing to give him a chance. He's a good comedic actior, but, if your really think about his performances, his style/delivery is pretty low-key and semi-serious/cynical. I have faith he can pull it off. It'll require the audience make the leap and not expect some gag to come out of his mouth when he speaks, though.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:48 AM on May 19, 2015


Vince Vaughn was in the 1998 film Return to Paradise with Anne Heche and Joaquin Phoenix. While not a great movie, Vaughn was actually pretty good in his role. I was surprised to find I enjoyed him more as a dramatic actor than a funny man.
posted by echocollate at 5:48 AM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think Vince Vaughn can pull it off. I believe a lot of these folks are really good actors, but the writing and final product we see is often such crap. I think Travolta and Bruce Willis turned in career best performances in Pulp Fiction because of the strength of the script. No one took them seriously at the time, especially Travolta.
posted by marxchivist at 5:54 AM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Maybe I've played too much Call of Cthulhu, but I'd love for Season Two to have a few callbacks to Season One just to give folks a whiff of conspiracy or unseen hands moving pieces across a larger board.
It's not like I'm asking anyone to be eaten by a Hound of Tyndalos or anything.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 5:55 AM on May 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


Season 3 to be a full on Delta Green investigation.
posted by Artw at 6:00 AM on May 19, 2015 [9 favorites]


I'm always curious about the mindset of television writers and show runners, who seem to be genuinely UN-curious themselves. I mean, start with the BSG team who put "And they have a plan" into the opening credits of the show and then were shocked, SHOCKED, to learn that people took it seriously, and thus bad retcon movie was born.

But then you have Pizzolato, who was working with material from two genuinely disturbing books, using the source material in really engaging and disturbing ways, and apparently thought they were just window dressing, or something? Nah, those black stars you see CLEARLY in the elder Hart daughter's painting didn't mean ANYTHING. Nor posing the dolls in the cult sex circle. Nope. Nothing to see here, move along.

I wonder if it was a matter of they tried to go in the direction that seemed to be there, but couldn't pull it off due to the constraints of time/money/television/whatever, or if they honestly thought these things were sparkly bits to toss into the narrative.

My secret suspicion, however, is that the endless focus on the characters first rather than the story is at the heart of this. The characters were great because the actors were amazing, and working their asses off. In any other actor's hands, Rust Cohle's lines would have been laughable.

So, tl;dr -- I don't have great hopes for TD2, because I don't think Pizzolato understands what made TD1 great.
posted by gsh at 6:18 AM on May 19, 2015 [13 favorites]


Nah, those black stars you see CLEARLY in the elder Hart daughter's painting didn't mean ANYTHING. Nor posing the dolls in the cult sex circle. Nope. Nothing to see here, move along.

My interpretation of the backlash over this is that audiences have been trained by by-the-numbers procedurals that scenes framed in certain ways indicate an eventual callback later in the show/series, and so people fixate on these things as if they're loose threads that will eventually be tied. When really the writer and director are using these scenes to evoke ideas and feelings that are suggestive of something less solid and less material just under the surface. Basically, they're being all literary and shit.

When done well, it can be very effective. When done poorly it's just confusing. I think Pizzolato failed to anticipate how his artiness would be interpreted by clue-hungry audiences trying to puzzle out the murder plot of a show titled True Detective. I appreciated and enjoyed what the creators were trying to do, but I don't fault fans for the backlash.
posted by echocollate at 6:38 AM on May 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


I think Pizzolato is doing Lynchian style creepy elements because they evoke a sense of dread and claustrophobia rather than a sincere attempt to incorporate any sort of mythos leanings.

The reality is that unless you have a show that focuses on the mind of the serial killer (which would require a different title and threatens to veer into fetishization ala Hannibal) I'm not sure you can really ever expect the detectives on this show to really determine what sort of crazy shot is driving the killer. Thus no King in Yellow to go with Carcosa. The detectives are going to go down rabbit holes long enough to freak them the fuck out and possibly even disturb their sanity like it did Rust but I'm not sure that we'll ever go full on gibbering nightmares like a CoC investigation.
posted by vuron at 6:40 AM on May 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


"Look, it's not MY fault that you interpreted a bloody trail of footprints leading to the butler's quarters, a bloody knife in the butler's possessions, and the butler's diary detailing an obsessive loathing of his employers as meaning that the butler did it. Those were all set dressing, to invoke the atmosphere of the butler doing it."
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:41 AM on May 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


That. Does not look good.

A disquieting share of what made the first season good was the stunning opening credits. That strung season one along on fishing line and it was only at the season finale that I saw it as bait and switch and realized that what I really liked was the opening sequence.

Matthew McConnaghy rocked it the whole time but the narrative itself doesn't stand up to scrutiny, a lot of things were just mysterious and dark and weird for the sake of being mysterious and dark and weird and the 'and, in conclusion,..' air of the finale didn't match the tone we'd been previously hearing--like all of a sudden 'light is winning'? Really? Did I imagine the opening sequence?

Because there is nothing in that narrative thesis suggesting to me that we're headed toward an optimistic conclusion. It's a little like listening to some creeptastic song on repeat for eight hours and having someone insert twenty seconds of Colbie Caillat singing Bubbly at the end.

I could watch that opening sequence again now, though, just because I love it so much.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:41 AM on May 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


What made the first season so good in my opinion was the setting in backwoods Louisiana. It felt Southern Gothic and eerie and giant sweeping shots of the delta and oil refineries and creepy trailer parks in broad daylight...the region added something unique to the show.

LA, though? Eh...
posted by windbox at 7:14 AM on May 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Hoping for the nighttime LA of Nightcrawler.
posted by Artw at 7:24 AM on May 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


What made the first season so good in my opinion was the setting in backwoods Louisiana. It felt Southern Gothic and eerie and giant sweeping shots of the delta and oil refineries and creepy trailer parks in broad daylight...the region added something unique to the show.

LA, though? Eh...
posted by windbox at 10:14 AM on May 19


I think what made it good, though, is that they took that setting, found what was eerie and creepy there and did it really well. You can find that in LA, I'm sure, if you look. I'm hopeful, given that they did such a good job with Southern Louisiana, that they can do something interesting and new with LA.

Ultimately, I also wish we'd gotten the occult history of the transportation system, and if it turns out to be just another police procedural, I might skip season three, but I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt based on season one.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:41 AM on May 19, 2015


My interpretation of the backlash over this is that audiences have been trained by by-the-numbers procedurals that scenes framed in certain ways indicate an eventual callback later in the show/series, and so people fixate on these things as if they're loose threads that will eventually be tied. When really the writer and director are using these scenes to evoke ideas and feelings that are suggestive of something less solid and less material just under the surface. Basically, they're being all literary and shit.
echocollate

Eh, if "they're being all literary and shit" then the literary concept of Chekhov's Gun should be familiar to them. What you describe, creating audience expectations by introducing elements in the beginning, is exactly what Chekhov was talking about. It's bad storytelling to ignore this principle.

I understand your point about including elements to evoke feelings or ideas, but you do have keep Chekhov's Gun in mind and do it with nuance so as not to create reasonable audience expectations that go unresolved. Maybe the worst recent example of this is the polar bear in Lost: perhaps it was a symbol or a way of evoking the weirdness of the island, but its inclusion out of nowhere was jarring and confusing.

So if the motif of the black stars aren't meant to mean anything in particular, don't have them be such a prominent part of the story with the characters even repeatedly discussing them. Make them like the oranges in the Godfather, where they signify something without Michael or Vito remarking on their presence.
posted by Sangermaine at 7:46 AM on May 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I wanted to add, this doesn't mean that every little thing must always have a given explanation. I think that's a fallacy audiences, and especially fandoms, operate under. It's a fine line between sloppy writing and clinical over-explanation.
posted by Sangermaine at 7:50 AM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


echocollate: "My interpretation of the backlash over this is that audiences have been trained by by-the-numbers procedurals that scenes framed in certain ways indicate an eventual callback later in the show/series, and so people fixate on these things as if they're loose threads that will eventually be tied. When really the writer and director are using these scenes to evoke ideas and feelings that are suggestive of something less solid and less material just under the surface. Basically, they're being all literary and shit. "

My interpretation of the backlash is that elements of the show made it look like there were going to be certain elements in the show that some of the audience wanted, but then they weren't in the show. Like you stroll by a bistro, and it has photos of delicious canoli out in front, and you think "I don't normally like bistros, but I love canoli, and it's pretty rare, and that canoli looks good" so you eat there looking forward to the dessert menu coming out and when they actually bring it out the desert menu it's just ice cream and pie, which is fine, but the whole reason you went to the restaurant is that you wanted canoli. And then people say "You're just disappointed because you're a sheeple brainwashed by the mass media" instead of the 100% more likely "You're disappointed because you wanted canoli and there wasn't any, those photos were just to create a mood."
posted by Bugbread at 7:54 AM on May 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


Maybe I'm missing something but where does Pizzolatto dispels the speculation that it's going to be based on "The Crying of Lot 49"? I mean, I've never watched True Detective and haven't kept up on anything regarding it but I don't see any mention of the Crying of Lot 49 in that interview on Medium.

And if the "dispels the speculation" comment is meant to reference this quote from the interview:

"It’s not, I’m afraid. There’s definitely bad men and hard women, but no secret occult history of the U.S. transportation system." (emphasis mine)

Then that doesn't disple tCoL49 as that's not what tCoL49 is about.
posted by I-baLL at 8:00 AM on May 19, 2015


I really like the concept of TD, totally changing everything with each new series.

I said something to this effect in an earlier thread, but I really wish they would turn this up to 11. Like having season 3 set in ancient China and season 4 being about the murder of several people who are part of a consensual hivemind and so on, not just moving from LA to L.A.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:07 AM on May 19, 2015 [9 favorites]


Are there any anthology series like that anymore? I feel like you had those back in the day, but they're gone now.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:09 AM on May 19, 2015


I'm hopeful about this, based entirely on the fact that I was super skeptical about both Matt McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, and they both *killed* it. I don't love Vince Vaughn but I think he probably has a lot of depth the director and writers can tap.

fingers crossed!
posted by freecellwizard at 8:09 AM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


robocop is bleeding: Needs more secret occult history of the US transportation system. Seriously disappointed that was pulled.

I'd love to make a fan edit that puts that back in. "The Crying of Route 49"; then introduce the bypass route, "Lot No. 249"; then a hop, skip and jump from A. C. Doyle via the Pym Expedition back to Lovecraft.
posted by kurumi at 8:13 AM on May 19, 2015


Yeah, I also never would have *dreamed* that Matt McC and Woody would have been as good as they were. Same with the Malcolm In The Middle super-vanilla dad being a murderous drug lord. I think Vince Vaughan can do this.
posted by triggerfinger at 8:31 AM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Are there any anthology series like that anymore? I feel like you had those back in the day, but they're gone now."

Isn't American Horror Story like that?
posted by I-baLL at 8:44 AM on May 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


My interpretation of the backlash is that elements of the show made it look like there were going to be certain elements in the show that some of the audience wanted, but then they weren't in the show. Like you stroll by a bistro, and it has photos of delicious canoli out in front, and you think "I don't normally like bistros, but I love canoli, and it's pretty rare, and that canoli looks good" so you eat there looking forward to the dessert menu coming out and when they actually bring it out the desert menu it's just ice cream and pie, which is fine, but the whole reason you went to the restaurant is that you wanted canoli. And then people say "You're just disappointed because you're a sheeple brainwashed by the mass media" instead of the 100% more likely "You're disappointed because you wanted canoli and there wasn't any, those photos were just to create a mood."

Agreed. That's what I meant by,

I think Pizzolato failed to anticipate how his artiness would be interpreted by clue-hungry audiences trying to puzzle out the murder plot of a show titled True Detective. I appreciated and enjoyed what the creators were trying to do, but I don't fault fans for the backlash.
posted by echocollate at 8:44 AM on May 19, 2015


I said something to this effect in an earlier thread, but I really wish they would turn this up to 11. Like having season 3 set in ancient China and season 4 being about the murder of several people who are part of a consensual hivemind and so on, not just moving from LA to L.A.

So interestingly, there's a whole series of appropriative detective novels called the Judge Dee series. Appropriative as in the author appropriated the main character from a real 18th-century Chinese detective novel (about a Tang dynasty magistrate, so it's historical historical fiction), and wrote a whole series with him.

The point is, there is actually a long Chinese tradition of detective stories, and it often involves occult elements. So your idea isn't even that ridiculous.
posted by vogon_poet at 8:45 AM on May 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


When really the writer and director are using these scenes to evoke ideas and feelings that are suggestive of something less solid and less material just under the surface. Basically, they're being all literary and shit.

When done well, it can be very effective. When done poorly it's just confusing. I think Pizzolato failed to anticipate how his artiness would be interpreted by clue-hungry audiences trying to puzzle out the murder plot of a show titled True Detective. I appreciated and enjoyed what the creators were trying to do, but I don't fault fans for the backlash.

Yes, but if he was using those pieces to evoke ideas suggestive of something less solid, he should have nailed the landing better instead of taking all of those creepy elements and crumbling them up and chucking them over his shoulder and going 'yeah well, light is winning'. If there is a trail of unsettling breadcrumbs through the entire show and the end there should be a house with a creepy witch in it instead of a shrug and a quick 'ah well, fuck all that, light is winning guys. ignore the other eight hours or whatever it was'.

Sorry, I really love complaining about the ending of this. I could do it endlessly. I'm going to have to resist butting back in with AND ANOTHER THING.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 8:45 AM on May 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Same with the Malcolm In The Middle super-vanilla dad being a murderous drug lord.

I dunno, there's episodes where Hal is separated from Lois for more than a few hours at a stretch and I would easily accept Breaking Bad as just an extended cut of one of those episodes.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:46 AM on May 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


For comparison, here's what I believe is the equivalent trailer for the first season. Lots of dudes waving guns around, lots of people saying things that sound vaguely portentous but also kind of silly out of context. I would say it's fairly similar overall and reveals precious little of what made the first season so compelling, although it does have a couple of enjoyably creepy Louisiana vistas.

And, hey, at least this one has a woman who's not dead and who even gets to talk.
posted by Copronymus at 8:48 AM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I said something to this effect in an earlier thread,

That one stuck with me. I'd watch two eunuchs solving a crime in Thebes during the Middle Kingdom.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:54 AM on May 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


ArtW sayeth thusly:

Season 3 to be a full on Delta Green investigation.

Now you're talking!
With the return of Mulder and Scully, can this be far behind?
NO. NO I SAY.

Hoping for the nighttime LA of Nightcrawler.

I assume you mean the Jake Gyllenhaal Nightcrawler, and not the Kurt Wagner Nightcrawler.

Unless you mean the Jake Gyllenhaal AS Kurt Wagner Nightcrawler, then I'm all over THAT Kickstarter.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 9:52 AM on May 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yes, but if he was using those pieces to evoke ideas suggestive of something less solid, he should have nailed the landing better instead of taking all of those creepy elements and crumbling them up and chucking them over his shoulder and going 'yeah well, light is winning'. If there is a trail of unsettling breadcrumbs through the entire show and the end there should be a house with a creepy witch in it instead of a shrug and a quick 'ah well, fuck all that, light is winning guys. ignore the other eight hours or whatever it was'.

Sorry, I really love complaining about the ending of this. I could do it endlessly. I'm going to have to resist butting back in with AND ANOTHER THING.


I'm with you, although it's not the last scene that bothers me, but rather the conclusion of the mystery itself. The breadcrumbs were leading us to something supernatural, or at least some big organization, and the "oh it was just this one insane redneck" thing was a major disappointment.

To stay on topic, I don't like either Vince Vaughan or Colin Ferrell. I will probably wait a couple weeks into the season to see what people are saying before I dip my toe back in.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 9:53 AM on May 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I ignored True Detective because of Matt and Woody but when I finally watched it I was very impressed by them. I am equally skeptical about Vince and Colin and will probably wait until series 2 is over to watch it and hope, like others, they work out. I guess for me it's a have to see it to believe it situation.

Had no idea there was a "backlash" against the show. I just really enjoyed it and thought to myself, we need more television of this quality.
posted by juiceCake at 11:12 AM on May 19, 2015


For comparison, here's what I believe is the equivalent trailer for the first season.

Yeah, I remember watching that and thinking "nah."

After the first few were out, I read a couple reviews. I picked them up and bought in hard. I loved the ending, but I'm a much bigger fan of creepy ambiguity than stilted explanation.

This trailer does nothing for me, but I'm wiling to give them the benefit of the doubt.

And I thought Vaughn was appropriately creepy in Clay Pigeons.
posted by lumpenprole at 11:29 AM on May 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Season 3 to be a full on Delta Green investigation.

Okay, okay, okay, okay. Okay. Here's what you do: You never openly refer to Delta Green, and you make each season questionably occult, but you always give the detective investigating names that begin with the same initial letter - Jake/Jacqueline/John or Michael/Madeline/Maude.

And you have one of them make occasional cryptic (and unseen) phonecalls to 'report in,' and when they do it, the others exchange significant glances.

And that's it.

I would watch the shit out of that.
posted by Myca at 12:02 PM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


And then everyone just randomly deus horribly in a way that doesn't even make sense.
posted by Artw at 12:05 PM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Some genius asked:
What if Season 2 had felt like Peter Levenda's Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
You had me at 'Peter Levenda' but holy shit!

Still, if NPiz is to be believed, he dropped the Ken Hite stuff for all the right reasons.
posted by waxbanks at 1:01 PM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sometimes your best trailer... is your best show.
posted by Chitownfats at 7:16 PM on May 19, 2015


The thing about the occult is it's not really "occult" if it's really overt. But the thing about television is that people always want more. I'm in favor of pulling back on that, not because I don't love those elements--I've been reading a lot of Lovecraft lately, actually--but because where do you go from the end of the first season? I want it to be a mystery. I'm okay if the mystery isn't supernatural, because otherwise by season 4 or 5 the thing's basically turned into Anita Blake. And given how that went... I'll pass.

I will, however, probably do the same thing with this that I did with the first season, and wait towards the end to just mainline it all in a weekend, because I am not good at patience.
posted by Sequence at 7:36 PM on May 19, 2015


To me it seemed that the creepy elements were there because we are viewing the whole story through Rust. I saw True Detective as a first person narrative. That's why the mood, the filters used for photography, the editing, the way people relate -- everything is different in the post-hiatus scenes. Everything becomes more matter of fact. Because that is what happened to Rust internally. You could easily film all those early scenes -- the antlers, the stars, the dolls etc. -- in a way that made them seem far less portentous, or even incidental. The creepy, brooding, portentous spine chills were Rust's, not the plot.
posted by lastobelus at 9:10 PM on May 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


You want noir and pulp? LA invented that shit, son! If you want vampires, by all means, go south. "What if Michael Mann only scratched the surface?" is what I see in this trailer. Hopefully it will be great.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:06 PM on May 19, 2015


I'm hopeful about this, based entirely on the fact that I was super skeptical about both Matt McConaughey and Woody Harrelson

McConaughey and Harrelson (particularly Harrelson) had both shown promising performances in the past.

I like Rachel McAdams, but Vaughn and Farrell are definitely a step down.

Wow, that interview was sparse. And the trailer doesn't really give me anything ... is Michelle Forbes (Guiding Light!) still attached?
posted by mrgrimm at 9:00 PM on May 20, 2015


« Older darn it.   |   "a letter from the hearse chasers" Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments