The Big Mac Blog

Second season of True Detective a case of a show just needing time

Rachel McAdams stars as Ani Bezzerides, a tough cop in the second season of “True Detective.”
Rachel McAdams stars as Ani Bezzerides, a tough cop in the second season of “True Detective.” HBO/TNS

Season 2 of the HBO original series True Detective was never going to be as good as Season 1 because it was simply impossible. That series was so original, riveting and well done that a follow was always a giant loss waiting to happen.

After three episodes of Season 2 of True Detective, it is trailing Season 1 by a wide margin but this is still a quality show. It is better than most shows on TV.

The third episode aired on Sunday night, and all of the story lines and characters are beginning to take shape into an eclectic band of weirdos operating in a scummy underworld of crime and corruption. This should only get better, and Vinci, California should only get considerably worse.

This third show should serve as a lesson to the big four major “free networks” that are routinely getting slaughtered by HBO and Netflix. Shows must have time to grow up, and to grow on, an audience.

It is ironic that in an era of quality TV programming, virtually none of it is on the Big Four. A reason is none of these shows are given enough time to figure their identity.

Veteran actor Dustin Hoffman recently told Variety that the state of TV has never been better in terms of quality programming while the state of film has never been worse.

The creation of original shows by the likes of Fox, ABC, CBS and NBC have all taken a deliberate hit in recent years with the advent and success of “reality TV”, and live game shows such as “American Idol” or “Big Brother.” Those are cheaper series to produce, and they generate ratings.

The original shows those networks do produce, however, are given absolutely no time to establish themselves, stretch their legs and find an audience. In today’s climate on “free TV”, shows are somtimes given as little as one episode to land an audience or they are cut. TV shows on the big free networks have always operated under the fear of the quick hook, but now it’s far worse than ever before.

When “Survivor” became wildly popular at the turn of the century, the fears of the death of original programming have been unfounded. TV is loaded with quality, on wide array of networks. All of these good shows share one commonality: They had time.

Shows such as “Breaking Bad”, “Downton Abbey”, “The Walking Dead”, “Mad Men” and on and on were all on networks that did not put a gun to the show’s proverbial head to score a massive rating in two weeks. The shows grew, matured and they all developed large, loyal followings of critics and fans.

On Netflix, the critically acclaimed drama “Bloodline”, starring Kyle Chandler and Sissy Spacek, would never have made it past the third episode on CBS or NBC. By the eighth episode of season one, the show had found its footing, and was a captivating drama worthy of binge watching, and another season.

Some of the Big Four’s reactionary attitude towards programming is reflective of a more intense, impatient society and media market that demands a fast return on an investment. But as we have seen with so much quality programming on other networks, it is possible to create a show worth watching and following. They just need time.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @macengelprof