Posts Tagged ‘true detective’

In Defense of True Detective Season Two

May 25, 2016

Indeed, there’s something tactile, sticky, greasy about the whole affair. We first glimpse Rachel McAdams’s Detective Ani Bezzerides seconds after she cuts off sex with another cop, who freaked out after an apparently unorthodox request on her part; she never quite shakes the unwashed and somewhat slightly dazed look of someone interrupted during an afternoon delight gone sour. For his debut, Taylor Kitsch’s CHiPS Officer Paul Woodrugh pulls over a parole-violating actress for speeding, who wrongfully accuses him of soliciting a sexual favor; he runs home to his randy girlfriend and insists on showering before they have sex. This is primarily an excuse to chug back Viagra and let chemistry take its course, since he’s secretly gay, but this scene too conveys the notion that there’s something dirty about Woodrugh he’s desperate to wash off. As for Velcoro, the stench of failure and frustration clings to this guy like the smell of Modelo and American Spirits; it’s hard to look at him, especially in the first half of the season, without your eyes watering. In other words, characters get under your skin in large part because of the emphasis placed on theirs.

I reconsidered the second, and apparently final, season of True Detective for Vulture.

What Went Wrong with True Detective Season 2?

August 11, 2015

For all that, the season still exerted a strange sort of magnetism. The endless overhead shots gliding over L.A.’s knotted freeways, the many quiet closeups of its main characters as they did nothing but sit and smolder, the sinister thrum of the electronic score overseen by T Bone Burnett – put it together and you get a rhythm and vibe unlike much else on TV right now. Even at its most frustrating, TD often felt like a show smoking a slow-burning cigarette under a streetlight at 3 a.m., a momentary oasis of chemical calm with nothing but trouble and turmoil on either side. Many series that are much better in every other respect would kill for that kind of palpable atmosphere.

But atmosphere alone isn’t enough to save a show; it can just as easily smother it like smog. Many of the season’s visual and sonic strong points gave off an air of impending doom, but when doomsday arrived the payoff couldn’t justify all that time spent sitting around waiting for it. So you’re left with flyover glimpses of roads that didn’t lead anywhere, or portraits of people so visibly exhausted and immiserated by their lives that the feeling becomes contagious. When you’re dealing with a mystery as murky as this one was, that’s just not enough fuel to power you through.

What Went Wrong With ‘True Detective’ Season 2? I tried to answer the question in a postmortem analysis for Rolling Stone.

“True Detective” thoughts, Season Two, Episode Eight: “Omega Station”

August 10, 2015

The moment the phrase “90-minute season finale” flashed on screen last week, it was all over for True Detective but the shooting. A shoddy second season had by then partially redeemed itself with a pair of tight, tense episodes that made up in muscle what they lacked in depth. But just when it seemed like the series was putting together the pieces and cranking up the pace after weeks of floundering, boom — a movie-length meditation on failure. “Omega Station,” the eighth and final installment of TD 2.0, could not have more effectively shut down the show’s progress if it dressed up like a cholo, drove it out to the desert, stabbed it, and left if for dead.

I reviewed the disappointing True Detective season finale for Rolling Stone.

“True Detective” thoughts, Season Two, Episode Seven: “Black Maps and Motel Rooms”

August 3, 2015

So why wasn’t it this tightly wound all along? Most murder mysteries operate along a linear progression of false starts, red herrings, leads, revelations, and the final whodunit. The approach that True Detective took was a revisionist one in a way, and perfectly valid in theory. Instead of piecing together clues one after another, Ray, Ani, Paul, and Frank just kinda kept pouring more and more info into a big swirling morass that remained incomprehensible until the moment it all became clear, like a cloudy pool of water finally settling down enough for you to see your reflection in the surface. That daring Metal Gear Solid action sequence aside, it’s probably a little bit closer to how solving major crimes works in real life.

The problem is that the show offered so little firm ground to walk on as it traveled through the murk. Compelling dialogue? Not so much; the pitch-black noir aphorisms that sounded magical in the mouth of Matthew McConaughey last season gave us a bad case of blueballs of the ear this go-round. Engaging characters? Not until they hit their respective rock bottoms over the past two episodes did the Drab Four feel like people you could empathize with, much less enjoy as reasons to tune in week to week. Intimidating antagonists? With the possible exception of creepy-ass Dr. Rick Springfield, no one in the semi-anonymous gaggle of corrupt police, politicians, land barons, and ethnically diverse gangsters giving our heroes trouble will be joining Reggie LeDoux or the Yellow King in the annals of memorable villainy anytime soon. Before this week, it’s unlikely much of the audience even knew their names. If you’re gonna make the mystery a mess until just before the end, fine, but there has to be something to make getting there at least half the fun.

I reviewed last night’s True Detective for Rolling Stone. I thought it was solid, which helped me understand why until last week, the rest of the season was not.

“True Detective” thoughts, Season Two, Episode Six: “Church in Ruins”

July 27, 2015

Even weirder, the big orgy that ends the episode is also a move forward for the series’ handling of women, sex, and nudity. When Ani Bezzerides goes undercover to get the inside scoop on the prostitution ring’s high-powered clientele, she’s dosed with Molly that’s potent enough to trigger post-traumatic flashbacks to her molestation as a child; cue visually distorted nightmare. So instead of the sleazy parade of pay-cable hardbodies you might have expected, everything you see is blurry, shaky, and decidedly un-sexy — as it should be at a party in which leering old men buy their way into sex with women who are prohibited from saying no.

The sequence’s most striking break from the norm, though, was aural rather than visual. The show’s usual score, an ominous, electronic throb, is suddenly replaced by an orchestra of swirling strings. It makes Bezzerides’ journey into the party mansion feel like the heroine of a dark fairy tale getting trapped inside the evil queen’s castle, lending a sense of urgency, even adventure, to her attempt to rescue the woman she spots from her old missing person’s case. When Ani, Velcoro and Paul Woodrugh crested the hill in the dark as they ran away, you half-expected the Ringwraiths to be chasing them instead of gun-toting goons. Tossing the series’ usual tonal palette out the window worked beautifully. When was the last time True Detective made you say that? Fingers crossed that the final two installments make us say it again.

I reviewed last night’s True Detective, far and away the best episode of the season, for Rolling Stone.

“True Detective” thoughts, Season Two, Episode Five: “Other Lives”

July 20, 2015

Tonight’s episode was absolutely stuffed with plot points, pretzel-like twists and some seriously overripe, laugh-out-loud lines. More often than not, it felt like a parody of prestige drama rather than the real thing. No character got away clean: Not Ani, who suffers her way from the most one-dimensionally grotesque sex-harassment workshop ever before revving her fellow offenders’ engines with (presumably) sarcastic talk about big dicks. Not Paul and his ridiculous cliché of a mother, who scream and weep their lungs out when he finds out she stole his hidden loot from Afghanistan like they were in a bad telenovela. (Apparently someone in the writers’ room thinks “poisoned cooze” is an insult a human being would use in the year of our Lord 2015.) Not Ray, who records a monologue about suffering for his son — “Pain is inexhaustible. It’s only people that get exhausted” — like he’s auditioning for the role of Rust Cohle in the school play. (Runner up: his big cliffhanger-ending “You and me need to talk.” No shit!) Not Frank and his wife Jordan, who stammer their way through a fight about his return to the gangster lifestyle and her inability to have children centered on sentences like “Crime exists contingent on human desire.”

The pièce de résistance, of course, is Frank’s grand declaration of frustration to Ray. “The enemy won’t reveal itself, Raymond,” he says, like a summer-stock Pacino in Godfather III. “Stymies my retribution. It’s like, uh, blue balls in your heart.” Blue balls in your heart, people. Blue. Balls. In. Your. Heart. Look, a simile makes connections in order to uncover meaning, not overwhelm it; “blue balls in your heart” does nothing to explain the unique rage of delayed revenge except bury it under a mountain of “Wait…what the hell did he just say?” It’s enough to give you, uh, jock itch in your brain.

I don’t even know what to say, folks. I reviewed tonight’s True Detective for Rolling Stone.

“True Detective” thoughts, Season Two, Episode Four: “Down Will Come”

July 12, 2015

Structurally, tonight’s big bang comes at the exact same end-of-Episode-Four point as the single-take shootout from Season One. But that was a deep-cover diversion, a consequence of Rust Cohle getting dragged along for a drug heist while posing as a white-supremacist biker. This week’s rampage, by contrast, took place as part of the search for the actual suspect in Ben Caspere’s killing, a figure in the Mexican mob whose prints were on the dead man’s pawned watch.

As such, it potentially corresponds not to the aforementioned seven-minute sequence, but to Marty and Rust’s raid on Reggie Ledoux’s compound in the following episode. That was when the original Detective duo murdered numerous shady men while the real killer went free for another decade. This time around, Ray knows for sure that the Vinci P.D. wants the case closed, and he suspects the state is in for the opportunity to shake down his crooked town for extra cash. With that in mind, it’s likely there will be pressure to act like they’ve gotten their man, however improbably that may be. Only ganglord Frank, who knows better than to believe that a guy hard up enough to pawn jewelry could be behind all his ruined plans, will want to keep up the hunt until the actual culprit is found. In other words, the criminal has been the true detective all along. Congrats if you had him in your office pool!

I reviewed tonight’s bullet-ridden True Detective for Rolling Stone.

“True Detective” thoughts, Season Two, Episode Three: “Maybe Tomorrow”

July 5, 2015

…this isn’t the first time True Detective has lacked the courage of its convictions. Rust Cohle spent the first season spouting the bleakest arguments about life and death ever advanced by a primetime drama, only to see the light and put his pessimism aside in its final minutes. The show could have broken important ground, depicting a person who believes the worst about the world yet still does good in it, with neither feature canceling out the other. (Faith in humanity is not required to be a decent human being.) Instead, Rust played the hero and got a hero’s reward, psychologically anyway.

Reviving Ray leaves similarly challenging and exciting territory unexplored. The idea of a good-cop/bad-cop narrative forced to live on past the death of its bad cop is an intriguing one indeed. For starters, it would have shaken up the story’s seen-it-all-before structure. It could also have been an opportunity for Pizzolatto and company to examine the toxic masculinity the show alternately (and perhaps unwittingly) critiques and embodies. Dodging an entire seasons’ worth of comparisons between the Harrelson/McConaughey and Farrell/Vaughn stunt castings wouldn’t have hurt, either.

And while we’re playing the What If game: If Velcoro were gone, maybe there’d be room to signify the psychological hang-ups of the other characters outside of bedroom-related problems. Take the trio that rounds out the core cast: Ani Bezzerides’ sexual assertiveness, Frank Semyon’s failure to perform at the fertility clinic, and Paul Woodrugh’s physical rejection of a romantic overture are used to advertise their overall dysfunction like a neon sign. Pimps and prostitutes are everywhere, each one a more leering stereotype than the last. Hollywood types talk about risqué parties like middle-schoolers who just looked up the word “orgy” on for the first time. The evil mayor has a house full of hustlers and harlots, including his son and wife. The murder victim himself is a garden-variety perv. Factor in Marty Hart’s philandering, his teen daughter’s promiscuity, and his wife’s weaponized seduction of Rust back in Season One, and it’s as if True Detective believes anything short of having seamless, zipless sexual experiences is a signal that your life is about to fall apart.

“Death is not the end,” but maybe it should be? I reviewed tonight’s kind of baffling True Detective for Rolling Stone.

“True Detective” thoughts, Season Two, Episode Two: “Night Finds You”

June 28, 2015

Let’s get a little Rust Cohle-ish for a second: There’s a theory among physicists that any event with multiple possible outcomes is essentially a root from which parallel universes grow. If you’re reading this recap, for example, you probably decided to watch True Detective tonight — instead of, say, playing World of Warcraft, or writing to your congressional representative about the cancellation of Hannibal. But according to the “many-worlds interpretation” of quantum mechanics, the timelines in which you leveled up your orc mage or explained the twisted relationship between Dr. Lecter and Special Agent Will Graham to a member of the House Ways and Means Committee are just as real as this one.

Tonight, True Detective 2.0 itself reached a multiversal branch point. Either it killed off its top-billed main character in its second episode, thus crafting the quickest course correction in TV history, or it didn’t, creating one of the most obnoxious bait-and-switch cliffhangers ever. This makes Colin Farrell the TV-antihero version of Schrödinger’s cat — simultaneously alive and dead, at least until next week. Time may be a flat circle, but it’s sure-as-shit better to be on one side of the interdimensional disc than the other.

Did True Detective just do what it looked like it did? And does it matter? I tried to answer these questions for Rolling Stone.

“True Detective” thoughts, Season Two, Episode One: “The Western Book of the Dead”

June 21, 2015

Vince Vaughn hands in some of the episode’s best work; watch his eyes, which radiate genuine unspoken concern over Velcoro’s sorry state when the two of them meet up near the end of the episode. Yet he’s also asked to deliver gangster dialogue that sounds cribbed from a video game cut scene: It’d take a Brando to make clunkers like “This filth hurt your woman” or “This place is based on a codependency of interests” or “A good woman mitigates our baser tendencies” sound halfway passable.

As two of those three examples indicate, True Detective’s woman trouble has hardly improved. McAdams’ character is introduced in her underwear, storming out of the bedroom after freaking out her boyfriend by apparently requesting something a bit too wild. Both she and Kitsch’s character experience sexual dysfunction as a shorthand for their psychological issues, but in his case he can’t get it up without Viagra; it’s telling how the worst problem a man can have in the series’ world is failure to perform, while for a woman it’s performing too aggressively.

Certainly that’s reflected in the women Woodrugh encounters: a speeding starlet who gets him suspended with false accusations of soliciting sexual favors, and a girlfriend (also introduced in her underwear) who we’ve barely seen for 30 seconds before she says “It’s been a week, Mr. Policeman — get that dick over here.” Can’t she see he’s suffering?! Well, no, because he saves that for his long solo night rides on his bike, the wind against his face making for the hour’s most unintentionally hilarious visual.

Worse still is the emotional contract the show asks us to sign regarding Velcoro and Semyon. A flashback shows the pair first connecting when the latter provides the former with information about the suspect in his wife’s rape — hence the “this filth hurt your woman” bit. Given what we’ve seen of Velcoro’s subsequent behavior, it’s easy to imagine what he did with this knowledge. It’s much harder to know how the actual victim felt, given that we never see his wife, hear her, or even learn her name in the episode. The show asks us to believe that a rape is fundamentally the story of the abusive man who avenges her (when he’s not menacing children himself), a repeat of Season One’s unfortunate white-knight theme. Why must we accept stories about violence in which its perpetrators are its heroes? Unless and until it answers that question, True Detective risks simply being a one-season wonder.

I reviewed the True Detective season premiere for Rolling Stone. It was not good.

Living dead girl: “Dead Girl Shows,” “True Detective,” and a defense of “Twin Peaks”

May 1, 2014

There’s a lot to think about in Alice Bolin’s essay “The Oldest Story: Toward a Theory of a Dead Girl Show” in the Los Angeles Review of Books. What starts as an insightful and often bleakly witty look at the strengths and weaknesses of Nic Pizzolatto’s True Detective falters when it unfairly conflates that entertaining but very deeply flawed show with David Lynch & Mark Frost’s vastly superior Twin Peaks.

“Just as for the murderers,” Bolin writes, “for the detectives in True Detective and Twin Peaks, the victim’s body is a neutral arena on which to work out male problems.” For True Detective this is, well, true. For all the show’s gestures in the direction of excoriating predation upon the less powerful by the more powerful, usually meaning upon girls by men, it’s ultimately a show that erased the very victims it purported to care for. The emotions of the male cops were our only window on their personhood and suffering.

By contrast, Twin Peaks brought us where Laura Palmer lived and forced us to keep looking at how she felt there. Indeed, Lynch made an entire prequel film for precisely that purpose (one that gives lie to the Bolin’s claim elsewhere in the essay that death prevents the Dead Girl from claiming the redemption available to the living males who investigate her death, but that’s neither here nor there). Unlike True Detective, where we as viewers are never separated from the focalizing influence of Marty, Rust, the two cops investigating them, and eventually the killer, the experiences of Laura, Maddy, and Donna were central to Twin Peaks, allowed to stand on their own, and devastating as such. Asseriting that “in Twin Peaks…the central characters are male authority figures” participates in the precise erasure the essay is decrying.

Moreover, the show worked rigorously to de-glamourize its presentation of rape and abuse. Even in the more explicit prequel film Fire Walk With Me, the sexual activities Laura initiates, though shown to be in some way sexy to her, are so because they represent crude and damaged attempts to reassert sexual agency in the face of years of horrific rape and abuse. Our glimpses of the actual rapes and assaults that take place are heartbreaking, soundtracked by screaming and sobs. The fallout for Laura, for her female classmates, for her mother — these are all chronicled unsparingly. This, and the unique and unforgivable violation represented by the identity of the killer, are what the show is about; the uncanny imagery and stunning filmmaking are intended to charge those elements, not the other way around.

Bolin also badly misreads the role of the supernatural on Twin Peaks — not just the Black Lodge and its murderous entities specifically but, I think, the nature and function of monsters in horror fiction generally. Citing the role of the demonic Bob in Laura’s murder, Bolin writes, “Externalizing the impulse to prey on young woman cleverly depicts it as both inevitable and beyond the control of men.” As evidence she cites a statement Agent Cooper makes to Sheriff Truman that the existence of supernatural evil beggars belief no more than the existence of the very human evil it helped enable. But in context, that line is intended to drive home the horror of wholly human abuse, not dismiss it. For one thing, countless male characters in Twin Peaks — Bobby, Leo, Ben Horne, the Renault brothers, Dr. Jacoby, the faraway editors of Flesh World — required no supernatural intervention whatsoever to commit their exploitative and misogynistic actions.

For another, monsters have since the dawn of time represented not just external but internal fears, our terror not just of the outside and unknown but of the impulses and excesses of mind and body we know all too well, because those minds and bodies are our own. I believe the idea that the killer bears no complicity for the killings because of the role of the supernatural isn’t even borne out by the text, but even if it were, the supernatural is not there to let male viewers off the hook in terms of their contemplation of the simultaneously universal and individualized nature of misogyny. It’s there to embody it.

The essay concludes by unfavorably comparing TD and TP to the more recent “Dead Girl show” Pretty Little Liars. It concludes:

What would seem to be Pretty Little Liars’s worst faults — its unwieldy plot, its lack of consistency, the culpability of so many characters — are actually instructive. Its creators have made a Dead Girl Show that is not about a journey instigated by a Dead Girl body toward existential knowledge, but the mess, the calamity, and the obscurity that are the consequences of misogyny.

This, of course, is an excellent description of Twin Peaks.

The Shocking 16: TV’s Most Heartstopping Moments

April 2, 2014

I wrote up 16 of the New Golden Age of TV’s most surprising and suspenseful scenes and sequences for Rolling Stone (with a little help from my fabulous editor David Fear). Battlestar Galactica, Breaking Bad, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Deadwood, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Lost, Mad Men, Orange Is the New Black, The Shield, The Sopranos, True Detective, Twin Peaks, The Walking Dead, The Wire. Read, then vote in our neat bracket tournament thing!

“True Detective” thoughts, Season One, Episode Eight: “Form and Void”

March 18, 2014

Just realized I never linked to my review of the True Detective season finale. Fittingly it was a mix of “gripping” and “a mess,” like the whole season.

Your Grand Unified “True Detective” Theory Is Missing the Goddamn Point

March 7, 2014

My own wild speculation is that clue-hunting and twist-anticipating entered the hive mind via cinemas in 1999 with the one-two twist-ending punch of The Sixth Sense and Fight Club. Sure, The Crying Game was still a recent memory, but not for the fanboys who flocked to Shyamalan and Fincher’s films and whose tastes were about to become post-millennial mainstream culture’s bread and butter. On the small screen, the phenomenon had its precursors — “Who killed Laura Palmer?”, The X-Files’ sprawling and eventually suffocating mythology — but the blame-slash-credit must be laid at the four-toed feet of Lost. Fueled by decades of pulp-fiction tropes and pop-philosophy mindbenders, structured as a Russian nesting doll of mysteries within mysteries, and riddled with more Easter eggs than the White House lawn, ABC’s sci-fi smash knowingly worked fans into a frenzy of message-board theory-mongering. Turns out it was more or less a shaggy dog story the creators were making up as they went along, but this didn’t stop viewers from applying this mode of audience speculation-cum-participation to virtually every big series since.

Which is fair play, when the show in question invites it. For example, Lost’s big nerd-culture contemporary, the cult-classic critics’ darling Battlestar Galactica reboot, teased its big mysteries in the opening-credit text of every episode, and thus had nothing but itself to blame when viewers gave the whole series a thumbs-up or thumbs-down based on those mysteries’ solutions. But even relatively realistic shows, based not around unraveling enigmas but on studying the complexities of human relationships, are now treated like glorified Sudoku puzzles by vocal viewers. The Sopranos’ David Chase worked overtime to design a series finale that would actively defy this kind of clue-hunting closure, but that didn’t stop a host of amateur sleuths out to close the book on that infamously open ending. More recently, the ostensibly sophisticated audience of Mad Men treats everything from promo art to costume choices the way medieval soothsayers treated goat entrails. In this light, the decision of Game of Thrones to largely drop its epic-fantasy source material’s host of cryptic prophecies and hidden truths (google “R+L=J” if you want to see how deep the rabbit hole goes) in favor of character work and realpolitik seems like the smartest act of adaptation since Francis Ford Coppola dropped Johnny Fontane as a main character in The Godfather.

Over at Esquire, I wrote a piece on the fan fervor for theory-mongering that surrounds True Detective which wound up being kind of an historical overview of the practice’s slow takeover of pop culture. It was fun to do — and commissioned by a loyal All Leather Must Be Boiled reader! See kids, tumblr dreams come true!

“They’re real men.”

March 2, 2014

Where do you think Cohle and Hart fit within the world of HBO’s antiheroes?

I don’t think either of these guys are antiheroes. I see that term used a lot in the media but I don’t think they know what they means. Tony Soprano wasn’t an antihero, he was just a very bad man. He’s just somebody you’re fascinated with watching. I think both of these men are straight up heroes — they’re flawed men but they’re not corrupt. They’re kind of throwbacks, for better or worse, to a different kind of masculinity. They’re real men.

True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto


“True Detective” thoughts, Season One, Episode Five: “The Secret Fate of All Life”

February 23, 2014

I reviewed last weekend’s True Detective for Rolling Stone. I thought it was the best episode yet, comfortably so.

“True Detective” thoughts, Season One, Episode Three: “The Locked Room”

January 26, 2014

You know, gang, the dialogue on this show is…less than good. A lot of it is just lame hardboiled cop-show clichés: “Nothin’ is ever over,” “The world needs bad men — we keep the other bad men from the door,” I mean, jesus. The interpersonal stuff is weak too: “Why is there all this space between us, Marty?” Ohhhhh, brother. (That was almost made up for by Marty’s Oscar-worthy performance with his Wile E. Coyote metaphor, but then rapidly undone by a deeply unimaginative sex scene.) It feels like the role of dialogue on formative Great-TV shows The Wire and Deadwood — the way David Simon and David Milch developed their own rhythm and syntax and idioms to have their characters communicate their complicated ideas about and reactions to the dissolution and formation of communities respectively, Simon with simplicity and Milch with filigrees — has been forgotten. Shows that do self-consciously formal, even purple dialogue well, like Boardwalk Empire and Downton Abbey…that just doesn’t get acknowledged as best I can tell. But this thing, with lines like “I don’t think a man can love” or the college-dorm-room exchange about the impact of religious faith on morality or that whole let’s-repeat-the-double-entendre-twelve-times-just-in-case “I just don’t ever want you mowin’ my lawn” argument, is some weird critical cause célèbre. I have nothing but contempt for writing wherein I set myself up in opposition to other critics, but, like…what the heck, man.

That softness seeps into other aspects of the writing, too. When Marty revealed that Rust, on top of his entire library card-catalog of baleful backstory and character traits, also has synesthesia, I actually laughed out loud. Perhaps it’s supposed to feel ridiculous? And when Rust outlined his findings about their killer’s past crime to Marty, why would he save “the victims had the same spiral mark on their back” for last? Wouldn’t that be the first thing you showed, if you weren’t a character in a cop show building to a dramatic reveal? Even Rust’s nihilism, which is so extravagant it retains a certain vim and vigor even at its silliest, is undercut in this episode by the heavy-handed and shopworn decision to juxtapose his grim proclamations about how murder victims are ultimately happy to die with line-dancing flashbacks. (Which is a damn shame, because the idea of a person becoming a homicide detective out of curiosity as to the precise nature of the cessation of consciousness’ link to the physical body is novel and compelling.)

So how best to enjoy this thing? The final shot — that genuinely frightening slow-motion monstrosity — is the answer. True Detective is best approached and appreciated as a creepy potboiler, with some fun performances. (Give it up for Eli from Boardwalk Empire! Remus, too, by the way — he was the guy on the riding mower.) It’s got a fancier pedigree, but in this regard it’s not a world away from another not-quite-sure-I-get-the-buzz show, The Americans. A great show? Don’t get it twisted. A fun show, if you don’t mind staring at it in wry bemusement, Marty-to-Rust-style? Sure, why not.