True Detective 1, Top of the Lake 2, Y Gwyll/Hinterland 2

The title of this post may look a bit like a line of football scores, but as you’ve probably guessed, the numbers denote the seasons of the crime series being discussed…

So…I know I’m late to the party, but I’ve *finally* managed to watch the box set of True Detective 1 (HBO 2014) that’s been sitting on my shelf for over a year. And what a treat it turned out to be – grown-up, complex crime drama at its absolute best.


There was so much to like: the complex characterisation of Louisiana state police detectives Marty Hart and Rust Cohle, the absorbing interview/flashback structure, the stunning cinematography, the Deep South gothic-noir mood, and of course, that iconic title sequence featuring The Handsome Family’s ‘Far From Any Road’.

I watched the series with my son, and we were both impressed with the consistently high standard of the eight episodes. We ended up rationing them to one an evening, because each was such a rich viewing experience that we wanted to dissect them afterwards. While the investigation – into the ritualistic murder of a woman and the earlier disappearance of a child – was extremely compelling, what lingered in my mind was the story of Marty and Rust’s own development and the evolution of their relationship over a period of twenty years. Their characters were very different, with individual complexities and flaws, and were brilliantly brought to life by actors Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.

I particularly loved Rust’s tenacity (bordering on worrying obsessiveness) in refusing to let the case die. Here he is scouting a site for clues with his ‘taxman’ notebook.


I hear that True Detective 2 hasn’t (ahem) quite lived up to expectations, so if you haven’t yet seen True Detective 1, now could be the moment to check it out. It will stand the test of time as a standalone series, I’m sure.

Some very good news: a second series of Top of the Lake has been commissioned by BBC2, with Elizabeth Moss reprising her role as Detective Robin Griffin.


There’s a major change of location, though: season 2 will be shot and set in Sydney, Australia and Hong Kong rather than New Zealand. I admit to having slightly mixed feelings about this, as the New Zealand setting was one of the big strengths of the first series for me. On the other hand, Jane Campion and Gerard Lee are once again co-writing, with Jane also set to co-direct, so I’ll be watching come what may. Production begins in December.

There’s further information about season 2 at indiewire and My earlier post on the first series of Top of the Lake (2013) and its wonderful female protagonists is available here.

And finally… The second series of Welsh crime drama Y Gwyll/Hinterland will air on British screens in mid-September:


WalesOnline reports: >>The ground-breaking crime drama, starring Richard Harrington as DCI Tom Mathias, will premiere in Welsh, with optional English subtitles, on S4C in the prime drama slot of 9pm on Sunday nights. The first episode of the eight-part series starts on September 13 and Mathias’ wife Meg turns up, hopefully revealing some of the moody detective’s shady past <<.

And here’s a nice little article by Kathryn Williams on ‘5 Things to Expect from Y Gwyll / Hinterland Series 2′. It looks like we’ll be finding out a lot more about both Mathias and Mared Rhys, which is a welcome development. While series 1 was great, a few people (myself included) thought a bit more backstory on the key investigators would have been good (see my earlier post here).

The English-language version will be shown on BBC Cymru Wales and BBC4 at a later date. Riches galore.

17 thoughts on “True Detective 1, Top of the Lake 2, Y Gwyll/Hinterland 2

  1. How exciting, Mrs P! I loved True Detective when I also finally got round to watching it and for many of the reasons you said. I stumbled across Top of The Lake and what an unexpected surprise: quirky and beautiful with lots of strong female characters – yahoo! i also stumbled across Hinterland, what a gem: so dark and broody and gripping in an unassuming way. What I also like about these three series in particular is the way the places they are set impacts on the story – for me, their settings are almost as vital to the story as the characters. And I so love a sense of place in my drama. Maybe, for that reason, Top of The Lake series 2 may lack some of the pull of series one. Whatever, I too will be watching. Bring them on!

    • That’s an excellent point, Marianne, and I totally agree with you: the setting/place as a character in its own right is definitely a strong feature of these three series (and mainly rural).

      I loved the landscapes of True Detective, and the use of the iconic tree (where the first murder victim was found) as a place that Rust returned to repeatedly, surrounded by those acres of fields.

      Looking forward very much to seeing what series 2 of Top of the Lake and Hinterland bring 🙂

  2. That’s some great television, Mrs. P., and I am glad you mentioned Top of the Lake. I must see that! I so much enjoyed Hinterland Series 1 that I’m delighted to learn there will be a second series. As soon as it’s available over here, I’ll be tuning in!

    • Thanks, Margot. There were some differing views of Top of the Lake. I really loved it, but know that others were not so enamored. But I really hope you like it!

  3. I’m so glad you and J finally got to see True Detective – what an amazing mother-son activity! Even though many people didn’t like season 1, I share your enthusiasm for it. I loved Cole, and I thought the series was more about character development than the crime itself.

    I am currently watching season 2, and I have to say that I am enjoying it as well, for the mere reason that one of the leads is played by Rachel McAdams, and she is doing a marvellous job (and totally unrelated to my love for her… Well, not really). I would recommend it to you for the gender stereotypes/women in crime fiction analysis. Can’t wait to hear what you think!

    • Hi Elena – I’m really pleased I got round to seeing it too…finally! It’d been on my list for months. Completely agree with you that the heart of the series was character development – and it was brilliantly done.

      I didn’t realise that there had been criticism of series 1. Will take a look around as I would be interested to know what aspects viewers disliked. Season 2 seems to have had more negative press (but then again, that impression could just be what I’m seeing from a couple of people on social media!). TD1 was very much about masculinity, so it would be good to see how TD2 grows in that respect by having a proper female lead. Hope you enjoy the remaining episodes 🙂

  4. Thanks for giving the ‘heads up’ about Top of the Lake and Hinterland Mrs P! Something to look forward to. Can’t wait!!!😁😁

  5. Hi Mrs P. Glad you enjoyed TD 1, there was a lot of criticism of the portrayal of women in series 1, which he addresses in series 2, & the ending is far stronger than 1. Vince Vaughn what a revelation, considering he’s been in some of the worst films made, he just steals it for me. Do watch.
    I think most people just wanted TD 1 part 2! I think that’s reflected in a remarkable new Spanish film ‘Marshlands’ made the same time as TD 1 which makes the similarities with TD remarkable.
    Substitute the Guadalquivir Marshlands, some astonishing aerial shots, for Louisiana, the 2 detectives, one pre Franco, one post. The brutal murders of young girls, the corruption, etc. No
    wonder they are advertising it as the Spanish True Detective! It seems to be working, when I booked Thursday morning it was in Screen 4, when I went to see it in the evening it had been moved to Screen 2 & was full, which I think proves the point I was making. An American remake?
    I wouldn’t be at all surprised! Do try & catch it though.
    While watching Fox TV the other night the trailer for guess who popped up, ‘Backstrom’ the American version, starts here Sept 2nd. He seemed suitably sleazy! Just hope he’s not going
    to turn out a loveable sleazball because he’s not, he’s obnoxious. Wonder if any of your American readers have seen it yet?

    • OK, Brian – you’ve convinced me. I’ll give TD2 a good go! As both you and Elena (above) suggest, the gender angle is a good way in, and it’ll be interesting to compare the two. The finale of TD2 seemed to go down very well from what I saw on Twitter too. Am studiously avoiding full reviews at the moment as I don’t want to see spoilers.

      Thanks very much for letting me know about Marshlands. It sounds excellent and I will try to track it down.

      Ah, Backstrom. Like you, I hope they keep him as gloriously obnoxious as in the books. I wonder if Egon the goldfish will be making an appearance too?

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