As it is the time of year when series are either renewed or cancelled, fans of the popular HBO crime drama will be excited to learn that HBO has renewed the contract for the crime anthology True Detective, through 2018. HBO has locked producer Nic Pizollato in for this and several other projects, including The Magnificent Seven, which premieres in September of this year. While this is great news for the series and the fans, season 3’s premiere date has not still not been announced with certainty.
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What we Know
Despite the fact that there was quite a lot of disappointment in season 2 of the series in comparison to season 1, TD fans are screaming for a third season and now that we all know there will be a new cast each season, a lot of speculation is going on about the possibilities of the new ensemble. Other speculation goes on about whether Pizollato will work alone as he did in season 2 or with the influence of another director/writer/producer as in season 1.
Michael Lombardo of HBO told the Television Critics Association that “Pizollato is one of the best writers working in television and motion pictures today.” He also stated that despite the fact that season 2 became a social media punching bag, it still generated over 12 million viewers per episode, 1 million up from season 1.
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The Season 2 Curse
So what went wrong with season 2 and how could season 3 benefit from the many comparisons with season 1? While season 2 received the approval of critics from the likes of The Hollywood Reporter and Rolling Stone, the common thread line was that a lack of character development and too much action combined with uneven storytelling all affected season 2, especially when compared with the brilliance of the first season. It could be that trying to follow the lives of four main characters left the audience feeling the shallowness of those characters as they stumbled through the action-packed weekly dramas.
The pace of plot development with Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey allowed for real character development down to the very still moments where the audience could actually sense the character thinking and figuring things out. Yes, people really do want to see just two cops riding around in a car talking, especiall when that comes with the brilliant acting these two brought in. Characteristics were far subtler and that is what we hope for season 3.
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Subtle Character Development
There are many indirect ways to develop a character that engross a watcher allow them to decide what it mean to the character. What a character drinks shows a lot about who or where he is. McConaughey drinks Jameson as the younger sharper detective but is drinking warm Lone Star beer by the end, showing how far downhill he has slid. Likewise, James Bond’s “shaken, not stirred” martinis shows a very different officer of the law than Raylan Givens’ (Justified) whiskey straight up or John McClane (Die Hard), who starts with something out of a decanter in DH 1 and ends up drinking anything he can put in a paper bag by DH 3 and 4.
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Another great tool for developing characters could be what casino game he prefers. What a person chooses to play at a casino can show you a lot about who they are – and in true literary fashion, it’s showing rather than telling. Wyatt Earp played poker, which is a strategic every-man-for-himself game of skill. It requires instinct, calculation of risk and nerves of steel. while Agent Cooper from Twin Peaks prefers blackjack, a typical game for someone who likes everything to be in order and all of it to make sense. Cooper’s calm and collected. Wyatt Earp is passionate and likes to take risks.
In True Detective season 2, it was odd that while Vince Vaughn ran the gaming house in Vinci, he never played. His game of choice may have shown us something about his character we hadn’t seen before. Or perhaps it was the fact that he never played that hints at his character. That’s brilliant, but why not bring that to the foreground and juxtapose it with other characters’ choices? The casino was a major theme in the series, but it was never used for character development, just as a set.
Fewer main characters and more character development would go a long way towards re-engaging fan loyalty for season 3. Recently Olive Munn posted a photo on Instagram with the caption “True Detective Season 3” leading to even more speculation on the cast. The photo also featured Jason Bateman and TJ Miller, which would certainly be an odd ensemble for a drama. But then again, choosing Vince Vaughn for season 2 wasn’t expected either. Idris Elba is another contender, according to industry speculation. HBO hasn’t confirmed or denied at all.
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Other fan sites are calling for a real bad guy this next time. Both seasons really only racked up one mysterious corpse each, although season 1 hinted at a serial killer. Why not explore his side of the story? There are also many wanting to go back to a dark, desolate location. The pace of the California locations took away from the story instead of enhancing it, according to some. The Deep South just felt so dirty and real. It’s also vastly unexplored compared to LA.
Lombardo has stated that season 3 must evolve in its own time. He takes blame for any of season 2 failings in that he pushed Pizollato into a time crunch over and over, not “allowing the writing to find its own natural resting place.” Season 1 began production in 2010 and the crew had three full years to complete its stellar achievement. Season 2 had to be complete in just 14 months, without the assistance of fellow director Cary Fukunaga.
Steve Golin of Anonymous Content, had said in one of his interviews that the scripts for season 2 were just not as good. He also stated that Nic did “not want to go with the stand alone director plan,” as he believed much of the success of season 1 rested in the partnership with Fukunaga. So an obvious answer for season three would be to bring the team back together with Pizollato at the helm.
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What does all of this mean for True Detective season 3? It means we will not be seeing it in 2016. Pizzollato has been given full authority for the upcoming season, which means he can get a team of writers, get a show runner or go it alone again. With the support of Lombardo and HBO, Pizollato could put together an epic production team, and fans can be enjoying the show by 2017. So we’re going to be patient, and we hope we’re going to be handsomely rewarded.