For a show which was almost universally disliked, mocked or considered disappointing, a hell of a lot has been written about season 2 of True Detective. As one of the seemingly few people who truly enjoyed it (and not in an ironic sense - or not just in an ironic sense) I've written a lot too, like True Detective season 2: The Good, The Bad and the Bizarre.
My point being this: the sustained level of interest in discussing this show - it's firmly a part of pop culture now, with season 2 parodies (some great) stacking up fast - clearly demonstrates that there's an appetite for more.
Recently Steve Golin, the head of Anonymous Content (who produce TD), spoke with surprising honesty about the failures of the second season:
Look, I think that the scripts weren't as good, and Nic (Pizzolatto) felt like he really didn't want to go with the one-director plan, which was something that I think really added an extra value to it... sometimes you have a good [season], sometimes you don't. But Nic is wildly talented, but I think that this one just wasn't as good ... Now we're gonna do season 3 and I think that one will be better.
There's quite a lot to digest in Golin's words, particularly in regards to the question of one or multiple directors. We've seen shows like House of Cards and Fargo do well with a revolving door of directors, but Cary Fukunaga's steady hand was such a big influence in season 1 that the decision to go with a new director in each episode in the season inevitably could be felt in what played out screen.
There was a lack of cohesion, ideas and story strands coming and going without resolution. Reading between the lines, it sounds as if the guys at Anonymous are keen to go back to the one-director model. And of course, the confirmation that a third series is in the works - something that was until recently up in the air despite HBO renewing their deal with Pizzolatto - is great news for fans, and for those salivating at the prospect of more "hate-viewing". You can watch Golin's interview in full right here.
A Question of Character
If True Detective needs a little guidance when it returns next, it could do worse than looking over its shoulder at FX's Fargo.
The two shows aren't that dissimilar. Both are anthologies, and both strike a tone quite different to anything else on television, although their approach to death is quite different - Fargo finding a lot of comedy in its rising bodycount, and all of True Detective's comedy being entirely unintentional.
But where Fargo excels - season 2 has been rapturously received by critics (boasting an unbelievable 96 on Metacritic), and in my opinion is by far the best TV series of 2015, even accounting for Jessica Jones' late arrival on the scene - is in the incredible way it draws its characters. The storyline isn't particularly original, and not especially believable either, but it's a joy to spend time with these characters. They feel like people who you might really encounter if you ever went to the Godforsaken titular town for some misguided reason.
The characterisation of True Detective just can't compete. Ani was by and large well-drawn, and by the end we came to believe in Ray (in my opinion, he was season 2's greatest asset) - but Frank was a preposterous disaster who spoke like somebody who'd spent far too much time with his head in a thesaurus, and did not in any way resemble a real-life gangster or shady business mogul. Sure, he was fun, and in the final episode we got a glimpse of the character he could and should have been all along, but it was all too late. Little point in even paying lip service to Paul Woodrugh, whose purpose in season two proved to be a far greater mystery than the question of who killed Ben Caspere.
It's been said numerous times already that True Detective is not beyond repair. Season 2 contained plenty of brilliance, in its own, ridiculous way. But season 3 needs streamlining. One director, a greater vision, and half an eye on the competition. Whatever happens before then, people we keep on talking about this show - and that can only be a good thing.
Should Pizzolatto be given free reign again with season 3, or would HBO be wise to reign him in a little? Is the one-director model essential to a comeback? Share your thoughts in the comments.