TV Character Madness – The Sweet 16

<< Previously on TV Madness

After 4 days of voting, we have some GREAT characters in the Sweet 16, and a few who have teamed up in the past…

Walter and Saul

 

Matchup #49 (Sidekicks)

(6) Daryl Dixon – The Walking Dead

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vs.

(2) Josh Lyman – The West Wing

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Matchup #50 (Antiheroes)

(1) Tony Soprano – The Sopranos

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vs.

(13) Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman – Better Call Saul

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Matchup #51 (Heroes)

(6) Buffy – Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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vs.

(2) Gregory House – House M.D. 

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Matchup #52 (Comedy)

(9) Leslie Knope – Parks and Recreation

vs.

(4) Ron Swanson – Parks and Recreation

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Matchup #53 (Sidekicks)

(1) Dwight Schrute – The Office

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vs.

(4) Marshall Eriksen – How I Met Your Mother

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Matchup #54 (Antiheroes)

(3) Dexter Morgan – Dexter

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vs.

(2) Walter White – Breaking Bad

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Matchup #55 (Heroes)

(1) Tyrion Lannister – Game of Thrones

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vs.

(12) Jessica Jones – Jessica Jones

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Matchup #56 (Comedy)

(3) Liz Lemon – 30 Rock

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vs.

(2) Michael Scott – The Office

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Elite 8 voting begins Tuesday, April 22nd. Follow along for more on Facebook and Twitter

 

Next on TV Madness >>

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TV Character Madness: Round 2 – Part II

<< Previously on TV Madness

We said goodbye to our first #1 seed.

Sad Homer

Don’t worry. He’ll be fine, eventually.

Still Sad Homer

Now it’s time to vote on who else is going to the Sweet 16.

Matchup #41 (Antiheroes)

(5) Don Draper – Mad Men

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vs.

(13) Saul Goodman – Better Call Saul

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Matchup #42 (Sidekicks)

(7) Jack Donaghy – 30 Rock

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vs.

(2) Josh Lyman – The West Wing

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Matchup #43 (Comedy)

(12) Gob Bluth – Arrested Development

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vs.

(4) Ron Swanson – Parks and Recreation

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Matchup #44 (Heroes)

(1) Tyrion Lannister – Game of Thrones

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vs.

(8) Rust Cohle – True Detective

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Matchup #45 (Antiheroes)

(6) Frank Underwood – House of Cards

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vs.

(3) Dexter Morgan – Dexter

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Matchup #46 (Sidekicks)

(1) Dwight Schrute – The Office

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vs.

(8) Ari Gold – Entourage

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Matchup #47 (Comedy)

(11) Sheldon Cooper – The Big Bang Theory

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vs.

(3) Liz Lemon – 30 Rock

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Matchup #48 (Heroes)

(7) Jimmy McNulty – The Wire

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vs.

(2) Gregory House – House M.D.

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Sweet 16 voting begins Monday, April 21st.

Follow along for more on Facebook or Twitter.

 

Next on TV Madness >>

TV Character Madness: Round 1 – Part II

<< Previously on TV Madness

Some close calls, upsets, and absolute dominance. 

Now for the second half of the Round 1 showdowns.

PiffBracketTV-02 (1)

Matchup #17 (Antiheroes)

(4) Omar Little – The Wire

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vs.

(13) Saul Goodman/Jimmy McGill – Better Call Saul

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Matchup #18 (Comedy)

(8) Barney Stinson – How I Met Your Mother

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vs.

(9) Leslie Knope – Parks and Recreation

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Matchup #19 (Sidekicks)

(7) Jack Donaghy – 30 Rock

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vs.

(10) Crazy Eyes – Orange is the New Black

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Matchup #20 (Heroes)

(2) Dr. Gregory House – House M.D.

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vs.

(15) Coach Eric Taylor – Friday Night Lights

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Matchup #21 (Antiheroes)

(6) Frank Underwood – House of Cards

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vs.

(11) Ray Donovan – Ray Donovan

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Matchup #22 (Comedy)

(3) Liz Lemon – 30 Rock

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vs.

(14) Selina Meyer – Veep

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Matchup #23 (Sidekicks)

(1) Dwight Schrute – The Office

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vs.

(16) Gary Walsh – Veep

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Matchup #24 (Heroes)

(5) Jack Bauer – 24

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vs.

(12) Jessica Jones – Jessica Jones

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Matchup #25 (Comedy)

(4) Ron Swanson – Parks and Recreation

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vs.

(13) Tina Belcher – Bob’s Burgers

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Matchup #26 (Antiheroes)

(8) Hannibal Lecter – Hannibal

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vs.

(9) Vic Mackey – The Shield

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Matchup #27 (Heroes)

(7) Jimmy McNulty – The Wire

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vs.

(10) The Doctor – Doctor Who

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Matchup #28 (Sidekicks)

(2) Josh Lyman – The West Wing

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vs.

(15) John Watson – Sherlock

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Matchup #29 (Comedy)

(6) Dr. Frasier Crane

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vs.

(11) Sheldon Cooper – The Big Bang Theory

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Matchup #30 (Antiheroes)

(3) Dexter Morgan – Dexter

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vs.

(14) Thomas Shelby – Peaky Blinders

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Matchup #31 (Heroes)

(1) Tyrion Lannister – Game of Thrones

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vs.

(16) Mal Reynolds – Firefly

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Matchup #32 (Sidekicks)

(5) Joey Tribbiani – Friends

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vs.

(12) Saul Berenson – Homeland

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Round 2 begins Saturday, March 19th. Hear our breakdown of the bracket on the latest Piffcast.

Follow along for more on Facebook or Twitter.

 

Next on TV Madness >>

One Day Till TV Character Madness…

As the NCAA Tourney tips off tomorrow, voting will be underway for our TV Character Madness bracket…

PiffBracketTV (1) (1)

Before your favorite characters duel for TV supremacy Thursday morning, YOU can submit your own filled out bracket by posting it to the Michael Piff Facebook Page or by Tweeting it to @Mike_PiFF03 for a chance at a Piffcast Prize Pack. 

Piffcast producer TJ Martin has already submitted his and has Ron Swanson going pretty far. 

Ron Swanson computer gif

You can see TJ’s bracket here and grab your own copy as well to complete. Each matchup will be posted in the TV section on MichaelPiff.com and voting will stay open for each matchup until 10 pm central time.

Take a listen to the latest Piffcast as we breakdown all 32 matchups.

Follow along for more on Facebook or Twitter.

Piffcast: TV Character Madness Bracket – Selection Show

UPDATE: VOTING HAS BEGUN FOR THE 2016 TV CHARACTER MADNESS TOURNAMENT! 

Just a day after the NCAA Tournament’s Selection Sunday show, The Piffcast announces its own bracket for TV and sports fans alike…

TJ and I reveal the participants of our new TV Character Madness tournament. Voting will begin here on MichaelPiff.com Thursday morning (3/17), as the NCAA Tourney tips off, and YOU will decide who advances toward Television Supremacy.

Also, take a listen for how you can enter our TV Madness Contest and win a Piffcast Prize Pack (Trust us. It’s worth it). Below is the full bracket and you can get copies of your own to fill out on Facebook and Twitter

(Before you freak out about some of your favorites being left out, the bracket goes back to 2000.)

PiffBracketTV (1) (1)

For a closer look at each region…

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Subscribe to The Piffcast on iTunes here. Again, voting begins Thursday morning, March 17th. Have a favorite character you want to win? Let your friends know, and follow along on Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

Exhale Part II: True Detective Season 2 Doesn’t Suck…as bad.

Many of you probably thought about quitting on True Detective Season 2 after the first 3 episodes. There were valid reasons for you to do so, but I also told you that Episode 4 was going to make or break the season…

(This is where I warn you that there are spoilers ahead, but you already knew that.)

TD Gun chase

Thankfully, Season 2 got better. 

We found parallels to Season 1, they cut some of the bullshit that muddied the story, and 3 out of the 4 major characters have developed into people worth investing in (Taylor Kitsch still sucks). There are still slow points and plot detours that will make you pull your hair out, but it’s hard to say the past 3 episodes haven’t redeemed the season at all.

Ray Velcoro and Rust Cohle Would Be Great Partners

There are common trends between Seasons 1 & 2. State government corruption is the overwhelming issue. The detectives have epic falls from from grace, or whatever resembles such a thing for them. There are also mid-season baddies who don’t go out quietly who serve as the “fall guy”, but then set our detectives on the right path.

Reggie Ledoux was the Season 1 “Yellow King”. Rust and Marty’s evidence led them to the meth cook’s compound for an insane confrontation, similar to the one we saw in episode 4 of Season 2 but with far fewer casualties.

Time is a flat cirlce

Of course they DID do it again. The tip that Ani, Paul, and Ray got from Mayor McCheese led them to Ledo Amarilla’s version of Ledoux’s compound, and was likely meant to be a trap for the trio. In Nic Pizzolatto’s own way, he makes Amarilla into the Season 2 Yellow King. “Amarilla” is Spanish for “Yellow” and “Ledo” is 4/6 the spelling of “Ledoux”.

…And explosions.

TD Boom

After Amarilla’s case is closed, there are still 4 more episodes and a bunch of orgy-loving powerful people who need to be taken down. You wonder if Rust’s interrogation skills combined with Ray’s willingness to get dirty would have wrapped this mystery up much sooner. At least Ray is cynical enough to handle Rust’s bleak philosophical soliloquies…and Rust wouldn’t judge Ray’s demons either.

The Story is Better Simplified

One of the things that dragged Season 2 down was the show’s commitment to 4 major characters and trying to unravel them layer by layer. As I mentioned reviewing the first 3 episodes, the multiple subplots associated with too many character were deterring viewers away from what was actually a good mystery. Ray is no longer beating up his kid’s bullies and their bystander dads. Ani isn’t sleeping with other officers in her department, for the time being. Frank is done harkening back to his childhood. And thankfully Paul and his drama have taken a backseat to the team’s investigation.

The simplicity was most evident in Episode 6 “Church in Ruins”. The opening scene between Ray and Frank was as good it gets for this season. They didn’t beat around the bush. Everything was laid out on the table with pistols cocked underneath. Then they walked away with their separate businesses to take care of and nothing to distract them.

The focus on Ani’s preparation to go undercover for the anticipated “party” built up solid suspense for the mess that was bound to happen.

Ani knifing

Who else gave an involuntary fist-pump when she was actually able to apply her knife-fighting practice? That was awesome.

Paul stayed out of everybody’s way and was actually effective when it came to getting the evidence and helping Ani out of the orgy. His redeeming quality is being a good soldier and completing the mission at hand.

With two episodes left, it’s the trio of detectives (and probably Frank) against California’s so-called elite, including Governor candidate Masuka from Dexter. Some of the subplots will likely arise again, especially Paul’s sexuality vs. marrying his baby’s momma, but the focus should be on closing this case.

“We could watch Friends.”

Watching Friends

Ray’s kid is such a Ross. A very ginger pizza-loving Ross.

Ray's stare

Going along the lines of simplicity, Ray cutting the cord from his son and ex-wife puts an end to one of the multiple distracting subplots. What’s interesting about that is the fact he agreed to join the “off the books” squad based on an agreement he could retain custody of his son. Ray seems focused on the task at hand after doing so, but maybe he has sealed his fate as well after doing so. Regardless, the best character on the show only got better because of it.

While in a drug induced trippy state, we learned more about Ani as she recalled a man who abused her in the past. The man looked like someone from her father’s photos and you wonder if he is more connected to the corruption than we already knew. Rescuing her missing person and getting a firsthand look at the kind of evil they are dealing with will probably have Ani sharpening her blade for more in Sunday’s episode.

Then there’s Frank…

Frank Gun

Frank’s story hasn’t felt all that necessary, outside his influence on Ray, up to this point. The more he evolves into being a gangster again, the more entertaining he is…but do you really care what happens to him?

He is, however, acting as much like a detective as Ray, Ani, and Paul while trying to find out who killed Caspere and Stan. Frank has to tie into this thing significantly at some point, and his findings may be the thing that breaks the case wide open. You also anticipate some well deserved revenge on Frank’s 2nd in command, who is obviously undermining him with the trafficking of women.

Most importantly, there’s finally MOMENTUM. The final sequence was exhilarating and gave the viewer something to look forward. You feel better about there being just 8 episodes instead of the typical HBO 10, and that there will be closure to this story sooner than later.

True Detective next episode

I’d like to hear what you think! Do you like Season 2 better now, or does it still suck?

Let me know on Facebook or Twitter and we can talk about it further. 

Time To Exhale: True Detective Season 2 Does and Doesn’t Suck, So Far…

We are three episodes into Nic Pizollato’s followup to the incredible first season story that made the brothers from ‘Edtv’, Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, our favorite detective tag team of all-time. Some viewers have jumped off the ledge, some are looking for a reason to hang on, and others aren’t that phased by True Detective Season 2…You can count me in the latter because I’ve suffered through much worse television.

Here’s the part where I warn you that the rest of this is riddled with SPOILERS. Continue at your own risk, if you aren’t caught up on the season. 

shh gif

As I’ve already mentioned, I don’t hate this new season of True Detective. There’s an actual mystery that I find compelling and some performances that I can appreciate. However, there are things worth hating and I understand the frustration and annoyance by fans. Pizzollato told us this would be a completely different story, but I don’t think viewers expected it to be THIS much different. If the first season wasn’t on such a high pedestal, would we care as much?

Trying to separate Season 2 from it’s predecessor, while also analyzing what the first season got right, there are reasons to indeed hate this season and reasons not to.

Why Season 2 Sucks

1. Taylor Kitsch! 

When the cast was finally confirmed, after what seemed like an eternity of speculation, I was actually excited about it. Colin Farrell was the most talented of the bunch. Vince Vaughn could finally get back to being the dark and twisted character actor that he started out as. Rachel McAdams is swell. The only wild card, to me, was Taylor Kitsch…TAYLOR KITSCH HAS BEEN EXCRUTIATING AND PAINFUL.

In 3 episodes, his only meaningful contribution to the story is finding the murder victim that kicked this whole thing off, Ben Caspere. Outside of that, Kitsch’s character has been an awful stereotype of a self-loathing war veteran with some messed up mommy issues and sexuality denial. Every curse word he tries using sounds as forced as when preteens discover swearing.

I don’t know if we’re supposed to feel bad for Officer Paul Woodrugh because of what he’s dealing with, but I have zero investment in him. If Paul doesn’t get interesting soon, I’m going to go back to referring to him as John Carter (not a compliment).

John Carter gif

2. Too Many Moving Pieces

This isn’t Game of Thrones. With twice as many main characters as the first season, we’re getting 4 times as many storylines. Part of Season 1’s charm was its simplicity. The main focus was finding the “Yellow King”, and how the development of the dysfunctional, yet charming, partnership between Rust Cohle and Marty Hart made that happen.

Instead, we’re not only worried about who’s killing off associations to Frank Seymon, but also an investigation into Ray Velcoro and the Vinci police department, Ray’s custody battle for his son, Paul’s stupid drama (which we eluded to earlier), and Ani’s family “cult” connections/porn addiction. Because of the multiple separate storylines, there’s very little chemistry between the characters (besides Ray and Ani) and the plot just drags…

It was episode 4 of Season 1,  “Who Goes There”, where the series set itself apart from everything else.

Will they pull something like the “6 straight minutes of one continuous shot” off again to make all the storylines worthwhile?

3. Cut the Bullshit, Frank.

I thought Vaughn with an organized crime background would be much more interesting than it has been so far. I understand Frank is trying to “go legit” and it’s not the signs of fading or weakness that bother me…It’s the soliloquies in bed and “attempts to speak with a blank stare” that do.

Frank push

I’m convinced, though, that Frank has turned a corner following his reawakening as a violent man. I loved him tearing the nasty gold teeth out of Danny Santos’s mouth and saying “Why would you greet the world like that?”

Frank’s wife, Jordan (played by Kelly Reilly), is a different dynamic and I don’t know what to make of her. Her consistent glares from a distance make you wonder if she has something else at play, besides what’s in Frank’s best interest, or if there really isn’t anything going on up there. I know everyone can’t be Claire Underwood, but that’s the kind of character I wish Jordan was. Frank has appeared needy of a backbone at times. I hope Jordan can be someone who can reinforce it….or completely break it.

4. Hitting 1/3 on Cliffhangers Isn’t a Good Batting Average.

Season 1 was masterful when it came to making you want more after the duration ran out each week…Rust telling investigators to “Ask the right fucking questions” after the first episode. “The Monster at the end of your dream”, Reggie Ledoux, entering the picture before everything goes black…

We’ve only had one of those instances in Season 2, and it was nearly a killer (literally).

Ray shotgunned

I found that ending to be brilliant. People were already swearing off the show because they thought Ray was dead. The speculation was as heated as the ending to Game of Thrones this past season. The follow up episode had kept the vigor going, an excellent chase scene, but they couldn’t end it with momentum. A weird awkward scene between Frank and Jordan to close the episode was as effective as Russell Wilson not handing the ball off to Marshawn Lynch at the goal line in the Super Bowl.

5. NO MORE MUSICAL NUMBERS!!!

The “Conway Twitty Impersonator in Limbo” bit was weird, right?

Conway Twitty TD

I allowed it because it matched with Ray’s bolo tie and I was excited to see Fred Ward as his father. Maybe it’s a theme with the bar, that Ray is in limbo whenever he’s seated in his booth, but I don’t need this show to turn out like American Horror Story has. My biggest complaint (among many) is that AHS turned into Glee for their “Freak Show” season, and that’s not why I tune in. For 3 episodes in a row, a performer has gotten too much screen time on the same stage in the same bar and I hope that changes in Episode 4.

Why Season 2 Doesn’t Suck

1. Ray Velcoro

Ray’s bolo tie puts Philip Rivers to shame, He’s also the most compelling character on the entire show.

Ray Fucks shit up

Ray has a little bit of both Rust and Marty in him. The baggage is evident and clear, as is the cynicism. He also prides himself on being a good detective, despite being morally and legally compromised. It’s hard to not get excited when he turned down a drink in Episode 3, saying “…it takes the edge off. I want to stay angry.”

2. Ray and Ani’s Chemistry

Ani is closest to Ray’s level as a cop, she’s not in anybody’s pocket, and there’s definitely a mutual respect between the two. On a show that LOVES asking unanswered questions, they are forthright with each other and don’t let bullshit get in the way. You would think two cops from different departments with different agendas would have unnecessary drama…That doesn’t seem to be the case yet.

I think most fans are glad Ray is alive so that they don’t have to deal with more Paul than they have to. Looking forward to some Marty & Rust-like banter going forward.

…and hopefully Ray heals up in time to actually catch someone.

3. Nic Pizzolatto’s Writing

None of the characters are made for Rust Cohle’s philosophy lessons (even as much as Frank tries telling dumb rat stories). They don’t have to be. As slow as the show has progressed so far, the dialogue has still been fantastic. Whether it was malicious or not, Pizzolatto’s shots at his former award winning director, Cary Fukunaga, in the scene on-set of a post apocalyptic film were hilarious…and completely passive aggressive.

I also know that everything on the show is deliberate, and everything has a purpose. Like creepy Rick Springfield…

If we go by some of the Season 1 playbook, there’s a lot riding on episode 4 this week. It’s the midway point, and you have to think Pizzolatto has something up his sleeve.

4. Who Doesn’t Love a Good Mystery?

Caspere’s murder has taken the detectives down one hell of a rabbit hole…Sex trade, corruption, weirdos in animal masks…And with one of Frank’s soldiers having a similar fate, one wonders if we’ve already met the killer (sorry, Stan)….It’s tough to jump ship if you were already invested in the mystery itself. Whether you like or dislike each of the characters, everyone is a suspect in this case.

5. The Sprinkling of Classic HBO TV Alums

One of my favorite aspects to Season 1 was seeing some of my favorite actors from my favorite shows make appearances. The Wire’s Clark Peters aka Lester Freeman and Shea Whigham from Boardwalk Empire are a few notable ones, and this season of True Detective hasn’t been any different. Another Wire alum, Michael Hyatt (Brianna Barksdale) has made waves as Ani’s commanding officer. Deadwood fans should recognize Ray’s teammate, W. Earl Brown, who played Dan Dority on the classic western series…now stalking Paul, for some kind of leverage.

But probably THE BIGGEST REASON True Detective Season 2 doesn’t suck…

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Masuka from Dexter aka C.S. Lee has made his presence known! And that goes a long way in my book…no matter how brief it’s been so far.

Love the show or hate it? Let’s talk about it on Twitter @Mike_PiFF03.