TRUE DETECTIVE SEASON 2: FINALE ‘OMEGA STATION’ REVIEW

TRUE DETECTIVE SEASON 2: FINALE ‘THREE SHOOT OUTS AND A BABY’ REVIEW – So the 90 minute show  finally slopes off to a half-baked demise, trudging toward a horizon it has no hope of reaching and taking some consolation in the wonderful geographical diversity of California.

‘I can hear you, I just don’t find you convincing,’ says  Jordan, Vince Vaughn’s girlfriend. She’s already told him he’s a bad actor and I was applauding this meta-moment of honesty when I realized she was writing my review. I get it Nic Pizzolatto. I can see all the ambitions of the series; I can hear the pitch that must have had HBO bosses so excited. ‘It’ll be LA Confidential meets Chinatown, meets the Long Goodbye,’ he said. ‘Red woods, salt flats, Michael Mann inspired action shoot outs, snappy dialogue, career redefining roles!’ The boldness of putting John Carter, a Mean Girl, Alexander the Great and the guy from Hall Pass together must have been breathtaking. Exhilarating almost.

So what went wrong?

First off, in this kind of series the crime has to be a character. It has to be well defined and have a shape. That doesn’t have to be at the forefront. In Chinatown the real crime is revealed only very late, but for a show like this – 8 and a half hours of it – we need to know what is making all these car rides necessary. Here we had land deals, a guy with burnt eyes, a bit of aimless spook and ultimately nothing. The resolution revealed nothing we didn’t already know from the pilot episode.

Secondly, the career redefining didn’t happen. Rachel McAdams was AWFUL. She just look constipated and miserable. There was no humor and though I know humorless people do exist, I don’t believe in them. Colin Farrell’s accent actually changed in the finale into something cowboy-ish when he donned a Cowboy hat, as if the accent was so random it would be swayed by his headgear. Vince Vaughn brought a melancholy. Faltering delivery. That rivaled William Shatner when he was pondering. Something philosophical. In Star Trek.  Taylor Kitsch was basically gay Rachel McAdams and made me long for the old fashioned definition of gay, which Webster’s defines as ‘men having joyous sex with men’.

But to blame them would be unfair as they were lumbered with the worst dialogue, asinine characterization,  and dumb scenes. Daniel Day Lewis would have struggled to make Ray Velcro’s relationship with his fat ginger-haired asshole of a son, Chad, interesting or moving.

These characters didn’t do anything because that’s what the character would have done; they did it all because that’s what Nic Pizzolatto had written. Just like they all spoke the same way. When Velcro gets together with Benzedrine, I was sure he should at least have said ‘Sorry about that sucking a robot’s dick line’, but he actually wasn’t the same person as the person who said that in … what? … episode 2? The jumping into bed was to give his death emotional weight. Just as the goodbye with Jordan was supposed to ‘tragically foreshadow’ Frank’s demise. But hey, at least they got out of the city for the day! The beauty of those final scenes – especially Vince Vaughn’s trek through the Tree of Life desert – were fatally undermined by the stupidity that put them there. Velcro’s salute to his son was so unnecessary it literally showed a signpost when they signposted it. Frank gets to stumble around and it was nice but I never cared for Frank and I never saw him do anything particularly smart. Even the heist he pulled off with Velcro was as uneventful a shoot out as I’ve ever seen.

And the epilogue, hinting at a new family was rendered ridiculous by the presence of Nails (first name Nine Inch), the goofy hard man who seems happy to hang around Venezuela indefinitely.

Okay, I did it. I got to the end. Of reviewed shows which have disappointed. Game of Thrones irritates me almost the same amount that it impresses, but it is never dull. True Detective was a severe disappointment but I got to the end because of you, dear reader. It was you. Feel free to use the comment box to sling flowers or shuriken.

TRUE DETECTIVE 2: ‘WESTERN BOOK OF THE DEAD’ REVIEW

TRUE DETECTIVE 2: EPISODE 1 REVIEW – John Carter from Mars and a Mean Girl look moody with Alexander the Great and  Jennifer Aniston’s boyfriend.

I used to be a big fan of James Ellory. I loved the LA Quartet and American Tabloid. But The Cold Three Thousand. Spoiled it for me. There’s a point when you hard boil something that everything evaporates and all of a sudden all you have is the smell of burning. In that book there was nary a sentence longer than four words. Everything was clipped and succinct to the point it suc.t.

The Western Book of the Dead – the first episode of the second season of Nic Pizzolatto’s HBO anthology series True Detective is geographically and tonally in prime James Ellroy territory, a dark noir set in the underworld of Los Angeles and environs. It features a set of characters, none of whom ever go to supermarkets or laugh at reruns of The Simpsons (the first five seasons). None of them have even heard of Game of Thrones. Colin Farrell plays Ray, a corrupt cop who drinks, does drugs and who has a fat dopey ginger haired son who is probably the son of his wife’s rapist. Rachel McAdam is Ani, a police officer whose day’s work seems to be going around the county arresting her own backstory – sister’s a prostitute, dad’s a mystic. Taylor Kitsch is officer Woodrugh, a traffic cop and war veteran who is so troubled that he can’t even have a blow job without a haunted facial expression. And Vince Vaughn is the local mobster with the Corleone urge to get into some legitimate business and leave it to his yet to be conceived heir.

I’m not sure if this anxiety over paternity that goes through the first episode is directly related to the shadow cast by the success of True Detective Season 1, and I do have to remember that I couldn’t stand the first show for at least the first three episodes. However, the incessant soundtrack, clipped dialogue and the constant moodiness feel like they’re covering up something superficial and wrong: ‘I wanted to be an astronaut,’ Ray complains into a voice recorder. ‘But astronauts don’t even go to the moon anymore.’ Well, boo-f*cking-hoo.

The body turns up at the end, giving the impression that this was all prologue and there’s hope this might find its groove, as the characters finally swoop on the story, but the familiarity and Justin Linn’s full immersion in True Detective style is not a good omen. And some of the writing is awful. Police detectives approach the mansion of a local big wig who has gone missing: ‘This is a big house for one man’, which is political commentary + exposition – anything anyone would actually say. The guy lives in Los Angeles and he hasn’t noticed that rich politicians live in big houses? Maybe I’m being harsh but Ray did say ‘I welcome judgement’.

Oh and finally…

[SPOILER PREDICTION: If it turns out that Vince Vaughn set up Colin Farrell’s wife’s rape as a way of compromising a cop and putting him in his debt, and then Colin Farrell finds out in episode 7, I will be very displeased.]