'True Detective' investigates America

Woody Harrelson (left) as Det. Marty Hart, and Matthew McConaughey as his partner Det. Rust Cohle in HBO's "True Detective."
Woody Harrelson (left) as Det. Marty Hart, and Matthew McConaughey as his partner Det. Rust Cohle in HBO's "True Detective."
Posted: May 31, 2014

Sure to be remembered as one of television's great accomplishments, HBO's True Detective is on one hand an exciting police procedural and on the other a layered, complex dissertation on the meaning of the American dream in the 21st century.

The drama's first, eight-episode season will be released June 10 by HBO Home Entertainment.

Created by novelist Nic Pizzolatto ( Galveston), True Detective is about two Louisiana State Police homicide detectives who embark on a dogged, 17-year search for a serial killer who has a penchant for posing his victims as part of dramatic, painterly scenes.

The more experienced cop, Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson), thinks of himself as the epitome of the normal, middle-class American man. He says what he means, loves God and nation - not to mention women and sports - and tends to drink too much.

His partner, the mysterious Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey), is anything but typical, normal, or average. A bookish sort who has been cursed with an unnaturally high IQ, he has no time for small talk, or any real talk. But if you persist, if you insist he tell you about his life view, as Marty does, he'll let you have it with both barrels, launching complex, and deeply disturbing, monologues about his Nietzschean view of the world as a meaningless play of anonymous forces.

The world is ruled not by a sentient, good God, Rust believes, but by nothing. It's a terrifying, random play of competing forces trying to dominate one another.

All this plays out against the background of a rural America that has been plunged into economic and political despair. God, the show seems to suggest, has abandoned the good and the brave who fill America's shores.

True Detective is gripping as a mystery. It is equally engaging and challenging as a probing, philosophical examination of America. (Home Entertainment ( http://store.hbo.com/; $59.99 DVD; $79.98 Blu-ray; not rated)

Other TV shows on disc

Ray Donovan: Season 1. Liev Schreiber gives a breathtaking performance as Los Angeles fixer to the rich and famous who makes little problems disappear. Wake up after a one-night stand to find your sexual partner has died? Give Ray a call! Featuring a great supporting cast including Elliott Gould, Jon Voight and Katherine Moennig, the 12-episode first season is due June 10 from CBS Home Entertainment. ( http://cbshomeentertainment.com/; $55.98; not rated)

Wallander: Season 3. Before Kenneth Branagh assayed the role of Swedish police detective Kurt Wallander for Masterpiece Mystery, it belonged to Scandinavia's homegrown thesp Krister Henriksson. He resumes the role in six new, Swedish-language, feature-length mysteries adapted from the stories by Henning Mankell. ( www.mhznetworks.org; $69.95; not rated)

Covert Affairs: Season 4. Never less than delightful, Piper Perabo returns as CIA agent Annie Walker in this fun and sometimes frivolous drama from NBC. This four-disc set includes all 16 episodes. ( http://www.nbcuni.com/; $39.98; not rated)

And don't forget . . .

The crime-solving gals are back in Pretty Little Liars: Season 4 due June 3 from Warner Home Video. . . . See America's loved - and hated - reality family in Duck Dynasty Season 5, due June 24 from Lionsgate. . . . The latest scientific discoveries about the universe are revealed in Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey due June 10 from Fox. . . . The midwives of East London are back for more touching stories about life in the 1950s in Call the Midwife: Season 3 from BBC Video.


Most titles also available for digital download from major retailers.

tirdad@phillynews.com

215-854-2736

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