The first season of True Detective was a groundbreaking achievement in the renaissance of television storytelling. A third season might return the popular crime anthology to its glory days.
Is True Detective back on life support?
That seems to be the word in Hollywood, where Entertainment Weekly reports that Emmy-winning writer/producer David Milch (the acclaimed creator of NYPD Blue and the much-missed Deadwood) is joining the team to work closely with novelist and show creator Nic Pizzolatto.
Pizzolatto not only created the show but wrote every episode, taking a short break in 2016 to co-write the screenplay for The Magnificent Seven reboot starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt. Reportedly, the screenwriter already has two scripts in the can for a potential third season of True Detective.
The show was launched to enormous acclaim in the midst of the McConnaisance, culminating in Matthew McConaughey’s Oscar win for Dallas Buyer’s Club. The actor also snagged an Emmy for playing Rust Cohle on the first season of True Detective. A second season of the crime anthology starring Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughan and Rachel McAdams was largely panned by critics, including Rolling Stone, which dubbed it “the year’s most passionately disliked show.”
To shake up the creative vision for the show, HBO reportedly presented Pizzolatto with lots of different options, including a new writers’ room and/or a new showrunner. Even though the status of show is still up in the air, HBO nailed down a contract with Pizzolatto that keeps him at the network through 2018. Industry reports say that the writer is also developing a Perry Mason series at the network with Robert Downey Jr., although no new developments have been reported on that project.
The developments also open a couple of interesting questions.
The first is the return of David Milch to a network, HBO, that effectively canceled three of the producer’s series (Deadwood, John from Cincinnati, and Luck) midstream, without letting them play out the way the creator intended. The episodic, limited nature of True Detective might lend itself better to Milch’s influence on the show, while adding a level of experience to Pizzolatto’s creation, which was his first attempt at running a show.
And then there’s the McConaughey conundrum.
While the series is likely to continue in the fashion fans are accustomed to — stand-alone seasons — it’s not out of the question that Matthew McConaughey could return to his iconic Emmy-winning role.
Time will tell if a third season of True Detective can rise to the high bar set by the first season, or whether fans’ enthusiasm for the once-killer show has dimmed.