True Detective


Sundays, 9 p.m.

This new eight-part series from HBO is an extended murder mystery with a familiar trope: a pair of mismatched detectives on the trail of a murderer. What makes it stand out is the casting of two iconic actors, Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, in the lead roles as Louisiana State Police homicide detectives. Harrelson’s Det. Martin Hart is a good-ol’-boy family man addicted to his job and the power it gives him, to the detriment of his wife and daughters, and McConaughey’s his opposite: a whip-smart, intuitive loner whose brooding pessimism masks his ability to suss out others’ secrets. They’re terrific together, and the rest of the cast is first-rate, too. Add in sharp dialogue, a rich evocation of rural south Louisiana (where the series was filmed) and an intriguing mystery involving a serial killer who creates ritualistic tableaux with the bodies of the women he kills, and you’ve got a winner. Told in flashback via separate interviews with the no-longer-partnered detectives, it’s as much a portrait of two wounded but fascinating men as it is a murder mystery, and Harrelson and McConaughey make the story sing.