True Detective: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews the second season of the hit HBO series that returns with a new case and a new cast. A bizarre murder brings together three law-enment officers and a career criminal, each of whom must navigate a web of conspiracy and betrayal in the scorched landscapes of California.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

88

Details:

Studio and Year: HBO – 2015
MPAA Rating: TV-MA
Feature running time: 503 minutes
Genre: TV Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French DTS 5.1, Spanish DTS Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams, Taylor Kitsch, David Morse, Kelly Reilly, Michael Irby, Timothy V. Murphy
Directed by: Various
Music by: T Bone Burnett
Written by: Nick Pizzolatto
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: January 5, 2016

“We Get the World We Deserve”

My Take:

A bizarre murder brings together three law-enforcement officers and a career criminal, each of whom must navigate a web of conspiracy and betrayal in the scorched landscapes of California. Colin Farrell is Ray Velcoro, a compromised detective in the all-industrial City of Vinci, LA County. Vince Vaughn plays Frank Semyon, a criminal and entrepreneur in danger of losing his life’s work, while his wife and closest ally (Kelly Reilly), struggles with his choices and her own. Rachel McAdams is Ani Bezzerides, a Ventura County Sheriff’s detective often at odds with the system she serves, while Taylor Kitsch plays Paul Woodrugh, a war veteran and motorcycle cop for the California Highway Patrol who discovers a crime scene which triggers an investigation involving three law enforcement groups, multiple criminal collusions, and billions of dollars.

I really enjoyed season one of True Detective and eagerly awaited the arrival of season two, especially after seeing the cast and trailer. As the season began I couldn’t escape the feeling that it wasn’t going to live up expectations and unfortunately it didn’t. The narrative really never takes fulfilling shape as the first three or so episodes suffer from muddled plot points and poorly defined subtexts. As the focus becomes clearer there is almost a feeling of indifference as the overreaching and scattered nature of the story’s elements leaves you with little to grasp. The characters are a mess, with nearly a likeable one (on either side of the equation) to be found. Some are poorly developed while others are decently drawn but their subplots aren’t integrated well enough to be thematically meaningful.

This adversely impacts the season’s biggest moments playing right through to the finale. I really like the concept of True Detective and while season two showed excellent promise it simply failed to deliver the palpable characters, tangible storytelling and superb tension of season one. As for the cast, there is superb talent across the board, but the poor writing and noticeable lack of chemistry left them floundering. If I had to sum up True Detective Season Two in one word I would call it overwritten. It most assuredly had its moments but failed to deliver a thoroughly compelling and gratifying miniseries experience.

True Detective: The Complete Second Season’s eight episodes are spread over three BD-50 Blu-ray Discs with the bulk of the bonus material found on Disc 3. The set is housed in a cardboard foldout with a spot for each disc and a matching slipcover which is fairly sturdy.

Parental Guide:

The series contains violence, nudity, sexual content, pervasive language and thematic material.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 86
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialog Reproduction:
  • Low frequency extension * (non-rated element): NA
  • DSU Rating * (non-rated element):

Video: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:

True Detective: The Complete Second Season comes to Blu-ray Disc from HBO Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 32 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.7 Mbps.

This a solid video presentation that offers excellent refinement during close ups and discernibly crisp definition within objects during mid-level camera pans. The color range perfectly sets the series’ somber tone and has a reserved aesthetic that rarely offers bright, eye catching hues. Rendering is clean and depth is appropriate. Fleshtones keep pace with the look of the show and have a balmy but natural texture. Spot on contrast yielded crisp, bright whites and blacks are stable, with excellent dynamic range. This is a pristine encoding that showed no obvious signs of video related artifacts or anomalies.

The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio sound keeps pace with the video and is quite good. Dynamics are robust and highs are crisp without being strident or edgy. Dialogue is rendered with defining tonal expression and room penetrating depth through the center channel. The front soundstage is diffused with excellent separation and clearly articulated detail. The presentation makes ample use of the entire surround platform. At times it opens up quite nicely to create an involving surround mix containing a mix of directional and ambient sounds. Bass response doesn’t reach subterranean levels however it appropriately supports the source elements and provides an appreciably tight, and punchy low end.

Bonus Features:

  • (HD) Making the Vinci Massacre
  • (HD) A Look Inside True Detective
  • (HD) True Detective’s California
  • Audio Commentaries with Cast/Crew
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

True Detective: The Complete Second Season showed excellent promise but ultimately failed to capture the essence of its inaugural season, suffering from overly ambitious writing and hit or miss direction that left its talented cast with little to work with. It comes to Blu-ray from HBO Entertainment featuring excellent high definition audio/video and a fair supplemental package that offers insights from the show’s cast and crew. While I was disappointed with True Detective’ssecond season I would recommend it on Blu-ray for fans that enjoyed it.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

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Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (With Darbee video processing)
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