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Ten reasons you should have watched True Detective

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Like critically-acclaimed crime dramas Breaking Bad and The Wire before it, unsettling cop show True Detective has quickly become one of the most hyped TV shows of recent times. If you’re still waiting to watch this modern day detective masterpiece then what’s stopping you? Series two is not long away this summer, and even more good news: fans of fictional crime-fighting cops can now watch series one on demand with Sky Box Sets.

© REX/c.HBO/Everett Still not convinced? Here are ten reasons why you need to sit back and enjoy one of 2014’s greatest shows:

1. The A-list cast

Oscar-winning Hollywood actor Matthew McConaughey is truly mesmerising as obsessive, intense Texan detective Rustin (Rust) Cohle, while Woody Harrelson is almost as compelling as affable ‘regular dude’ cop Marty Hart. McConaughey puts in one of the best performances of his life as Cohle, a brilliant misfit with a bleak outlook on life and an unhappy past. Harrelson’s character is also a lot more complex than he first appears to be – more ‘messed up dude’ than ‘regular dude’ – meaning that he also gets the opportunity to push his acting skills to their (impressive) limits.

2. The spooky theme

In True Detective’s opening scene, the camera pans to reveal the body of a young woman. Her killer has tied deer antlers to her head, daubed a pagan symbol on her back and surrounded the victim with creepy Blair Witch-style objects made from twigs – much to the surprise and consternation of the local police who aren’t used to dealing with such grisly murders. These hints of supernatural horror are constantly lurking in the background, leading some reviewers to compare True Detective to cult TV mysteries like Lost or Twin Peaks. It’s certainly not your average cop drama.

3. The fantastic setting

A lot of police series are set in big cities like New York, Baltimore or Chicago, but not True Detective. Series one was filmed in and around the misty, swamp-filled bayous of Louisiana, which ties in perfectly with the creepy feel of the show. The hauntingly beautiful landscape is also a broken one: children cycle past boarded up houses, seedy bars and trailer parks along half finished roads that seem to lead nowhere. This atmospheric scenery really is like nothing you’ve seen before.

4. The addictive, non-linear plot

True Detective takes its name from a series of lurid 1920s crime stories, so it’s not surprising that at times it feels more like a gripping novel than a TV show. The action is split between 1995 and the present day, a contrast that raises endless questions. Writer Nic Pizzolato constantly drops hints about confrontations that we haven’t seen and events that are yet to unfold, a tactic that leaves viewers feeling completely hooked and desperate to find out more.

5. It’s short and sweet

Worried that True Detective will take over your life? Don’t be. Unlike most US crime dramas, it’s only eight episodes long so it isn’t a huge commitment. What’s more, this means the series has a brisk pace that leaves audiences feeling much more satisfied: each episode is jam packed with gripping scenes, interesting clues and intriguing mysteries. Everything in the show feels important: even the long, panning shots and silences. It’s a tight, lean, pared down series without any unnecessary padding, like an extra long movie that’s been chopped up into handy bite sized portions.

6. The incredible action

Although the majority of True Detective’s appeal lies in its slow, unfolding procedural mystery, that doesn’t mean that fans of action packed sequences have to miss out. The fourth episode of series one boasts one of the most ambitious hostage scenes of all time: a six minute long tracking shot that was filmed in a single take with cameras looping and arcing over the action. It’s hard to put into words just how good this sequence is: you really just have to watch it!

7. It’s not all doom and gloom

Although the serial killer subject matter is a bit bleak, like all the best shows True Detective finds time for some funny scenes. These usually take the form of witty banter between unimaginative Louisiana cop Marty Hart (Harrelson) and peculiar fish out of water Rust Cohle (McConaughey). When Hart finally gets Cohle to open up, he’s subjected to an intense, annoying rant about the nature of humanity that ends with Hart begging his new partner to shut up. This personality mismatch leads to plenty of entertaining quips that definitely lighten the mood.

8. The fantastic soundtrack

A haunting, creepy drama needs a suitably atmospheric soundtrack, and True Detective certainly doesn’t disappoint on that score. Country music maestro T Bone Burnett offers up an incredible, evocative soundscape: twangy guitar riffs, eerie drums and dark tunes that perfectly complement the Louisiana scenery and occult themes. The title song ‘Far From Any Road’ by the Handsome Family is another perfect match – it’s a gothic country and western record that manages to be both toe-tappingly catchy and thoroughly creepy, just like the series itself.

9. Cary Fukunaga

Series one of True Detective just wouldn’t be the same without Cary Fukunaga. The acclaimed movie director directs the series in the same way he would shoot a film, with long shots that linger on weird and wonderful aspects of Louisiana’s landscape. He twists our perception of the countryside, leading to intriguing optical illusions that add to the surreal and cinematic feel of the show. Fukunaga has created a unique visual style that won’t disappoint.

10. It keeps you guessing right until the final scene

We won’t give away the ending, but this gripping show has so many twists and turns that you can’t help turning into an amateur detective whenever you tune in. Fan theories lit up the internet before the finale, with people trading facts and sleuthing their way through the clues in an attempt to get to the bottom of the mystery. So, just who did kill Dora Lange, what went wrong between Hart and Cohle, and who is the ‘Yellow King’?

The only way to find out is to head over to Sky Box Sets and start watching series one today.

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