Regular readers will know my fascination with True Detective. It’s not just that it’s a great television show; it’s great content, period. I think it stacks up against the best films in the genre that I’ve seen.1 And, in fact, in some ways it’s better because it’s essentially a seven hour film, broken up into more easily digestible pieces.
That last part is the key. True Detective as a seven hour film would be just as amazing as the television show is, but it would be very hard to watch. Attention spans aside, it’s hard to sit through anything for seven hours straight. The genius of True Detective is using the traditional television format of “episodes” to break up the content into easier-to-consume pieces. The sum of those parts is equal to — or perhaps even greater than — the whole if it were one continuous entity.
Of course, none of this is particularly new. But the difference in my mind is that the television content is now equalling — or even surpassing — that of film. House of Cards. Game of Thrones. Etc.2 These are like great films, cut up, and extended. The format isn’t new. But the end result is.