True Detective: Season One review

The biggest crime of all would be not treating yourself to this remarkable crime series on Blu-ray

Back in 1995 Louisiana detectives Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) and Rustin Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) solved the ritualistic murder of a former prostitute that was connected to a series of other missing person reports. Flash-forward to 2012 and it looks like the murders have started up again. So what exactly happened all those years ago and why did the now-retired cops' friendship come to such a bitter end?

This eight-part HBO drama is quite simply one of the most memorable and involving crime series of recent times, taking us on a stylish and compelling journey into the darkest parts of the human psyche. Eschewing the fast-paced style favoured by most of its contemporaries, the show's measured storytelling allows all its characters the room to breath, resulting in a number of tour de force performances – not least from its leads. TV drama at it's absolute best.

Picture: Shot on location in Louisiana, True Detective manages the remarkable feat of feeling even more cinematic than the rest of HBO's acclaimed TV output, courtesy of some startling cinematography. And by spreading the eight hour-long episodes across a trio of BD50 platters, the label has ensured that they look enthralling on Blu-ray.

Colour reproduction and fine detailing are both absolutely faultless. Blacks reveal impressive depth and contrast is perfectly handled. Also, the decision to shoot the show on 35mm film stock is replicated expertly on the digital format, with a fine patina of native grain evident throughout.
Picture rating: 5/5

Audio: True Detective's DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack doesn't make particularly widespread use of the entire soundstage, but there's still a lot to like here.The show's rich dialogue sounds incredibly natural and is prioritised in the mix, while Foley effects are delivered cleanly. However, it's the treatment of the show's dark and brooding music that impresses the most, helping to give the series its terrifyingly doom-leaden atmosphere.
Audio rating: 4.5/5

Extras: Following the usual HBO template, each episode is accompanied by optional previews and recaps, as well as brief Inside the Episode behind-the-scenes featurettes. Also included are a pair of fairly inconsequential deleted scenes.

Of far more interest are the set's two episode commentaries. Series creator Nic Pizzolatto and composer T. Bone Burnett do the honours on the fourth episode, while they're joined by executive producer Scott Stephens on episode five. Also well worth a look is a 14-minute chat with Pizzolatto and Burnett, which covers both the show's music and a fairly in-depth discussion of the themes it explores.

Sadly, the 15-minute Making of True Detective featurette is too short to give anything more than the briefest overview of the production process. Even more disappointing though is Up Close and Personal with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, which is little more than a collection of four extremely brief soundbite interview snippets from the superstar actors.
Extras rating: 2.5/5

We say: It's a mystery why there aren't more extras, but otherwise this is a superb set for a stunning TV show

True Detective: Season One, HBO Home Entertainment, All-region BD, £40 Approx