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Rachel McAdams was the best part of Season 2 of HBO’s True Detective.
Rachel McAdams was the best part of Season 2 of HBO’s True Detective.

A theory exists among screen writers that if an orgy makes it onto the page the writer is out of ideas. In the case of Season 2 of True Detective, the more orgys, the better.

The highly anticipated follow up to the massively successful original True Detective on HBO was just a bit outside. Alas, even if Season 2 of True Detective didn’t work, that is no reason for HBO to junk this compelling series. There was no way Season 2 was ever going to match the brilliance of Season 1.

Season 2 did occasionally land some serious scores with shootouts, surprise killings, orgys and one performance worthy of a statue. Rachel McAdams deserves an Emmy for her performance. My first wife solidified herself as one of the most versatile performers today. She was completely convincing as a damaged, twisted but well meaning soul. She stole every scene.

Season 2 concluded on Sunday night, and it wrapped up the 456 story lines, about three of which made any sense. The show was mostly uneven, miscast, and it simply tried too hard. When it was simple, it was pretty good. When the show tried to involve an adoption, crooked politicians, mobsters, single parenting, Russians, pimps, hookers, drugs, closet homosexuality, divorce, rape, incest it all quickly became too much to follow. There were so many last names kicked around that distinguishing one from the other required a cast list on the couch.

The brilliance of the first season was the intimacy of its performers, and the relative simplicity of the story lines. When that show grabbed you, it knocked you over. Season 2 maybe had two such moments. The problem was none of the performers, with the exception of McAdams and to a lesser degree Taylor Kitsch, evoked much sympathy or emotion.

Vince Vaughn physically looked the part of a double-crossed scumbag who was a quiet menace at work, while he was a semi- agreeable scumbag at home. It was hard to buy him as a bad guy after his long run in comedy; the writing didn’t help.

Colin Farrell had his moments, and he did his best with the heavy-handed dialogue that was forced down his throat. Some of the things he had to say just sounded ridiculous.

The show had its moments, and it looked as if about half way through it had found its footing and the rest would be pretty good. Instead, it was uneven, difficult to follow and mostly a miss.

Judging Season 2 of True Detective against itself, it was OK. Judging Season 2 of True Detective against Season 1 of True Detective, it was a disaster.

The overall premise of a bizarre police case investigated by damaged, anti-hero types is still solid. HBO should not give up on this outline, and just go with a few story lines rather than a few hundred.

And, if Rachel McAdams can come back that wouldn’t hurt.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @macengelprof