This year, True Detective came out of the gates as one of HBO’s biggest hits since Boardwalk Empire and it’s not hard to see why. Despite being approximately the 99,999th model of “Two mismatched detectives solve grisly murder in small towns with potential occult implications,”* it’s clearly one of the better ones. Writer Nic Pizzolatto, who writes every single episode by himself (unheard of for TV writers) has a handle on the story he wants to tell, while Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey remind you precisely what makes them movie stars.
Still, for all that makes True Detective a traditional, albeit excellent, show there is one non-traditional aspect that continues an exciting trend for TV: each season will be a completely different story with a completely different cast. FX’s American Horror Story got this “new season, new story” anthology ball rolling but True Detective looks to be American television’s first anthology series that doesn’t, you know, suck (sorry AHS fans).
Every year of True Detective will still be called True Detective but will be an entirely different setting, plot and cast, all still under the True Detective banner. It’s like Pizzolatto has received “True Detective” as a prompt in a high school creative writing assignment and will just let his mind wander with it for as long as HBO lets him. Pizzolatto seems up to the task but a new story and new cast every year is a tall task for one person, so we thought we’d help him.
Here are some of our ideas for future seasons of True Detective. We’ve selected the setting, the crime and the cast. It’s up to Pizzolatto to actually write the scripts, unless HBO is willing to pay us to assist.
* — Whenever the 100,000th version of this show or movie comes out in the next couple of weeks, Nielsen will finally unleash all the “100,000” balloons and confetti into our living rooms.
True Detective: Hollywood
Setting: Los Angeles, California, 1951
Similar To: The Black Dahlia, L.A. Confidential
The Actors: Edward Norton, Ewan McGregor, Evan Rachel Wood, Mickey Rourke
The Crime: It’s the height of independent Hollywood in the 1950’s and someone is murdering young starlets. Edward Norton** plays an LAPD Detective and teams up with an entertainment beat reporter at the L.A. Times (Ewan McGregor) to solve the mystery that is captivating a newly-celebrity obsessed nation. Evan Rachel Wood plays the most famous actress in the industry who survived an attack and may be the key to solving the mystery. Mickey Rourke is an L.A. mob boss, who could be Norton and McGregor’s greatest ally…or enemy.
** — I’m predicting this now: Edward Norton WILL appear on a season of True Detective.
True Detective: Frozen
Setting: A small town in Saskatchewan, present day
Similar To: Insomnia, The Shining
The Actors: Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, Dakota Fanning, Cillian Murphy
The Crime: Using an occult element, this setting will be similar to the current True Detective’s small town Louisiana except much, much colder. It’s a tiny village in northern Saskatchewan where Viggo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender are the only police officers. Slowly someone starts to tear down the infrastructure of the village – livestock is murdered brutally, the water supply and electricity are routinely tampered with. Even more mysteriously, many of the crimes have a supernatural bent to them.
No one has turned up dead…yet, but if Viggo and Fassbender don’t find the saboteur soon, the whole town, will freeze to death. Dakota Fanning is Viggo Mortensen’s teenaged daughter, desperate to escape this small town. Cillian Murphy is a mysterious stranger who arrived in town right around the time mysteries began.
True Detective: Diplomacy
Setting: Washington DC, present day
Similar To: State of Play, House of Cards
The Actors: Samuel L. Jackson, Christian Bale, Ben Affleck, Sigourney Weaver
The Crime: A environmental lobbyist is found dead, covered in oil on the steps of Congress. Police are baffled as security tapes reveal absolutely nothing of the event. Samuel L. Jackson and Christian Bale of the FBI are dispatched to get to the bottom of this conspiracy that naturally ends up going all the way to the top of the federal government. Ben Affleck plays an upstart Democratic congressman from New Hampshire. Sigourney Weaver is the Vice President.
True Detective: Pathogen
Stetting: Center for Disease Control, Atlanta – present day
Similar To: World War Z, Contagion
The Actors: Mark Wahlberg, Sandra Bullock, Dustin Hoffman, Terrence Howard
The Crime: There are no actual detectives in this version of True Detective. Instead Mark Wahlberg and Sandra Bullock are scientists who are visited by an extremely sick man (Terrence Howard) who believes he is patient zero for a disease that could cause a global pandemic. Wahlberg and Bullock race against the clock to find a cure for Howard’s ailment and investigate the mysterious pharmaceutical company run by Dustin Hoffman that may be developing weaponized viruses.
True Detective: Murdaland
Settting: West Baltimore, early 2000s
Similar To: The Wire
The Actors: Dominic West, Wendell Pierce, Idris Elba, Michael K. Williams
The Crime: A lieutenant in a West Baltimore crime family is acquitted of murder, prompting a young Irish-American detective (West) to seek wire surveillance from a judge. The detective and his partner (Pierce) begin a special crimes unit dedicated to bringing only the biggest and most violent gangs of Baltimore down, one of which is run by Idris Elba. This incarnation of True Detective will go on for five seasons with each season covering a different institution of Baltimore such as the government and the media. Michael K. Williams also stars as a gay stick up boy who only robs drug dealers.