• Network: HBO
  • Series Premiere Date: Jan 12, 2014
  • Season #: 1
Metascore
87

Universal acclaim - based on 41 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 37 out of 41
  2. Negative: 1 out of 41
  1. Reviewed by: Jeff Korbelik
    Mar 27, 2014
    100
    The drama is quite riveting.
  2. Reviewed by: Brian Tallerico
    Feb 20, 2014
    100
    HBO's program is not just an actor's showcase for two greats. It is dense, complex, rewarding storytelling, heightened by a sense of location from its writer and director that is mesmerizing and a character-driven storytelling aesthetic that brings to mind great films like David Fincher's "Zodiac" and Bong Joon-ho's "Memories of Murder."
  3. Reviewed by: Vicki Hyman
    Feb 13, 2014
    100
    True Detective keeps you on your toes, and will keep you glued to the screen.
  4. Reviewed by: Jeanne Jakle
    Jan 14, 2014
    100
    Though the investigation is absorbing, it's the meticulous fleshing out of the obsessive and frequently conflicting lead characters that makes this drama seem so much fresher than the umpteen crime procedurals on television.
  5. Reviewed by: Andrew Romano
    Jan 14, 2014
    100
    Judging by the initial installments, it's not only one of the most riveting and provocative series I've seen in the last few years; it's one of the most riveting and provocative series I've ever seen. Period.
  6. Reviewed by: Terri Schwartz
    Jan 13, 2014
    100
    True Detective proves to be everything the HBO marketing has promised it to be: a gorgeous, stylized and dark exploration into the worst parts of the human psyche.
  7. Reviewed by: Sara Smith
    Jan 13, 2014
    100
    After True Detective, all the other TV cops hunting serial killers are going to look like copycats. It’s that the taut script and spot-on dialogue takes us on a ’90s noir roller coaster ride of Shakespearean tragedy with fearless literary aspirations, delivered by two actors at the top of their game.
  8. Reviewed by: Tom Gliatto
    Jan 10, 2014
    100
    Very little happens in the first three hours of this anthology crime series, yet it's absolutely riveting. [20 Jan 2014]
  9. Reviewed by: Ed Bark
    Jan 10, 2014
    100
    True Detective is a marvel of craftsmanship, storytelling and performances through these first three hours made available for review.
  10. Reviewed by: Joanne Ostrow
    Jan 10, 2014
    100
    While it's not fun entertainment (lacking the tragicomic notes of, say, "The Sopranos"), it is an amazing dramatic entry. It's only January, and only four episodes were available for review, but True Detective sets the bar for 2014's TV newcomers.
  11. Reviewed by: Robert Lloyd
    Jan 10, 2014
    100
    True Detective runs slow and steady without ever seeming to drag. Even minor characters get room to breathe, and seem independently alive; the briefest scenes seem to imply life beyond the frame.... The dance [Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson] do together here is work of a very high order, and all the reason you need to watch.
  12. Reviewed by: Robert Bianco
    Jan 10, 2014
    100
    If you think of it less as a mystery and more as a two-person character study, odds are you'll be more patient with it. And trust me, that patience will be rewarded.
  13. Reviewed by: Dorothy Rabinowitz
    Jan 9, 2014
    100
    The drama unfolds in a series of flashbacks separated by many years. Hart and Cohle, no longer young, end up reporting on the past in separate interviews—a formula carried off with subtlety and high intelligence, like everything else in this detective story.
  14. Reviewed by: David Wiegand
    Jan 9, 2014
    100
    The dialogue is rich, colorful and provocative, adding to the gothic sensibilities of the series. Director Cary Joji Fukunaga makes great use of the Louisiana location, giving it as much importance to the story as the characters of Cohle and Hart. All the performances are superb, but those of McConaughey and Harrelson are in a class by themselves.
  15. Reviewed by: Curt Wagner
    Jan 9, 2014
    100
    [Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey's] riveting work would be worth the admission alone, but the hauntingly beautiful True Detective excels in every way.
  16. Reviewed by: Willa Paskin
    Jan 9, 2014
    100
    Creepy, gorgeous, unsettling, and searching, it has--for lack of a better word--a literary quality, an accretion of meaningful detail. You can push on any aspect of the show--every line, every shot, every bruise--and it bears up.
  17. Reviewed by: Lori Rackl
    Jan 7, 2014
    100
    Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson should star in everything, always--that’s how mesmerizing they are as Louisiana criminal investigators in HBO’s new anthology True Detective.
  18. Reviewed by: Alan Sepinwall
    Jan 7, 2014
    100
    The two central performances are so powerful, the dialogue so evocative, the look so intense, that they speak to the value of the hybrid anthology format Pizzolatto is using here--which, along with FX’s “American Horror Story,” points to a potentially fascinating shift in dramatic series television.
  19. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    Jan 3, 2014
    100
    Rich and absorbing, this eight-part drama quickly vaults into elite company, offering a singular voice that’s unlike almost anything else on TV.
  20. Reviewed by: Jeff Jensen
    Jan 3, 2014
    100
    Each season of this anthology drama tells a new story with a new cast, but McConaughey and Harrelson are so good, you immediately begin grieving the prospect of getting only eight episodes with them. [10 Jan 2013, p.67]
  21. Reviewed by: Tim Goodman
    Jan 2, 2014
    100
    The acting--by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson--is off the charts. The writing and the concept, by series creator and novelist Nic Pizzolatto, undulates from effectively brash soliloquies to penetratingly nuanced moments carried by sparse prose. Lastly, director Cary Joji Fukunaga has created a beautiful, sprawling sense of place (the series is shot and set in Louisiana).
  22. Reviewed by: Tim Molloy
    Jan 15, 2014
    90
    Nic Pizzolatto’s script and Cary Fukunaga’s direction slowly, methodically earn every big moment. And when those moments arrive in the third episode, they’re legitimately terrifying.
  23. Reviewed by: Bruce Miller
    Jan 13, 2014
    90
    At times, True Detective just seems like an overlong episode of a standard television series. But the flashbacks and flash forwards give it heft and let Fukunaga push the actors.
  24. 90
    The first four episodes sent out for review become stranger and less “realistic” by the hour, not to mention more stereotypically HBO-like (artfully arranged corpses; drug-thug posturing and handgun-waving; gratuitous T&A) and less concerned with the case that Cohle and Hart are allegedly trying to solve. But the show’s time-shifting structure is so painstaking that even when True Detective spirals into lurid madness there still seems to be purpose behind it.
  25. Reviewed by: Ellen Gray
    Jan 10, 2014
    90
    McConaughey and Harrelson are terrific together and intriguing apart, and whatever went on or is going on between them, and in the sadly complicated community they serve, is more interesting than the murder mystery that's meant to drive the story.
  26. Reviewed by: Matt Roush
    Jan 10, 2014
    90
    The crime they're investigating often takes such a back seat to the show's tricky structure and the all-pervasive angst you may once again wonder what exactly HBO has against the notion of narrative urgency. But be patient with this slow-burner of a disturbing, demanding drama. These detectives are truly fascinating.
  27. Reviewed by: Sarah Rodman
    Jan 9, 2014
    90
    Even though True Detective can feel very heavy at times, and as often as we’ve seen serial killer story lines, Harrelson and McConaughey were compelling enough that I powered through the first four episodes HBO sent for review.
  28. Reviewed by: Maureen Ryan
    Jan 9, 2014
    90
    [Novelist Joe Pizzolatto and director Cary Joji Fukunaga's] cohesive viewpoint helped me to forgive True Detective for some of its rougher spots, and the poetic visuals undoubtedly strengthened the most effective aspects of the drama.
  29. Reviewed by: Todd VanDerWerff
    Jan 10, 2014
    83
    True Detective might be finding itself in the first half of its first season, but few processes of discovery are so enthralling to watch.
  30. Reviewed by: Verne Gay
    Jan 8, 2014
    83
    The real pleasure of this series is watching them peel away the layers to this particular onion, often on long car drives across a vast, wet, undifferentiated Louisiana landscape.... The real problem with True Detective are those flash-forwards to the present day: Younger Cohle, at least, is interesting. The older version is gaseous and his maunderings often stop the show cold.
  31. Reviewed by: David Hinckley
    Jan 10, 2014
    80
    Happily, Harrelson and McConaughey play the characters well enough, and the script is crafted ingeniously enough, that we want to know where it all goes next--and don't focus on the likelihood it will be no place good.
  32. Reviewed by: Tom Long
    Jan 10, 2014
    75
    Relentlessly dark and slow boiling, True Detective may promise more than it can deliver. But it still delivers quite a bit.
  33. Reviewed by: Mark A. Perigard
    Jan 10, 2014
    75
    True Detective will linger with you long after the credits roll, a grim journey into night.
  34. Reviewed by: Chris Cabin
    Jan 8, 2014
    75
    At its wildest moments, the series feels as frighteningly nervy and furious in its delivery and intent as prime David Lynch. More times than not, however, it defers to an earnest, rote view of bad religion, only marginally enlivened by the appearance of Shea Whigham as a big-tent preacher.
  35. Reviewed by: Mark Dawidziak
    Jan 10, 2014
    70
    As brilliant as many of the storytelling flourishes are, the narrative frequently suffers from awkward construction, clumsily bouncing among three time periods.... It's a brainy drama, to be sure, and it's a challenging one. The riveting lead performances are what keep you engaged when the going gets static--something more than engaged, actually.
  36. Reviewed by: James Poniewozik
    Jan 9, 2014
    70
    Often True Detective is too much about the performances–there’s something very actorly about it, setting up McConaughey in particular with set pieces and monologues that, while exquisitely written on the page and probably potent Emmy-bait, would be twice as effective if there were half as many.
  37. Reviewed by: Michael Starr
    Jan 7, 2014
    63
    Both McConaughey and Harrelson turn in first-rate performances--you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that they disliked each other in real life, such is the animosity between them. But the writing is a bit overblown and the pacing static--at times downright glacial.
  38. Reviewed by: Matthew Wollin
    Jan 13, 2014
    50
    As a prestige show, it’s so serious, portentous, and polished, it’s not very much fun at all, so intent on wrapping its package in money and style that it forgets to put anything inside.
  39. Reviewed by: Mike Hale
    Jan 10, 2014
    50
    The flashback structure, which could have been cumbersome and distracting, is impressively seamless. But, despite these positives, things start to go off track as early as the second episode.... [Director Cary Joji Fukunaga] doesn’t show much ability here to animate Mr. Pizzolatto’s dialogue-heavy encounters.... There are some nice moments in the later episodes, and they’re the ones with the fewest words.
  40. Reviewed by: Hank Stuever
    Jan 10, 2014
    50
    It fixates on the familiar, sullen murkiness similar to recent procedurals (“The Killing” and “Broadchurch,” for example) and adds several more layers of its own artistic yet unfulfilling murk.
  41. Reviewed by: Emily Nussbaum
    Mar 27, 2014
    30
    Whatever the length of the show’s much admired tracking shot (six minutes, uncut!), it feels less hardboiled than softheaded. Which might be O.K. if True Detective were dumb fun, but, good God, it’s not: it’s got so much gravitas it could run for President.
User Score
9.2

Universal acclaim- based on 1001 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 21 out of 165
  1. Jan 13, 2014
    10
    Just another lover of "True Detective". Yes, it does remind me of several other detective/procedural series on TV but it is so much more subtle, so much better acted. Harrelson and McConneghy are far from being among my favorite actors but on "True Detective", they simply show how it is done. Excellent! Full Review »
  2. JJJ
    Feb 27, 2014
    1
    Could be a good show; unfortunately it pitifully degrades the subject matter by hacking better writers and taking itself way too seriously. The women (including a dead woman) are propped around as decor and are solely defined by what they do with their 'girl parts'. People think that makes the show 'deep', 'dark' ,' grim' and profound. Nothing profound or fun about male brutality and female victimization except writer and director indulged a little too much in their own porn, fetish and power fantasies. Full Review »
  3. Feb 24, 2014
    4
    I wanted to like this show, but as the episodes went on I became extremely disappointed. There is nothing particularly original about it. Two macho detectives who drink and have sex with women are on the hunt for a serial killer with weird fetishes. That's it. Besides the two main characters, everyone else are film noir clichés. Moreover, the women in the show are paper-thin characters who are mainly there for the obligatory boob shot. The pacing of the show is a problem as well. I don't mind slow-moving story lines, but True Detective really pushes it. I guess I will be one of those few people who will go to my grave trying to understand why this show is getting high praises. Full Review »