Nic Pizzolatto's anthology crime series True Detective is back for a third series, with Mahershala Ali and Stephen Dorff heading up a brand new cast.


Here's everything you need to know about it...

When is True Detective series three on TV and how can I watch?

True Detective series three starts on Sky Atlantic on Monday 14th January with a double bill of episodes one and two starting at 9pm

Is there a trailer for True Detective series three?

There sure is...

Who is in the cast of True Detective series three?

The new story is set in three overlapping time periods in 1980, 1990 and 2015. It stars Mahershala Ali and Stephen Dorff as lead detectives, Wayne Hays and Roland West, investigating the disappearance of two young children in rural Arkansas. Carmen Ejogo plays schoolteacher Amelia Reardon (below) who becomes Hays’ wife in later time periods. Other stars include Mamie Gummer as Lucy Purcell, the mother of the missing children, with Scoot McNairy playing their forlorn father Tom. Ray Fisher plays Henry Hays, the grown-up son of Wayne in the 2015 timelines.

What is True Detective about?

This is the third instalment of Nic Pizzolatto’s’s time-layered anthology crime saga. Series one starred Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, while the second (completely different story) starred Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams and Vince Vaughn. The less said about series two the better...

All three series are told over different periods and series three concerns a child abduction case set in the beautiful but impoverished Ozarks region of Arkansas in the southern United States.

We first encounter Ali’s Wayne Hays and Dorff’s Roland West in 1980 as boozy cops roused to action by the disappearance of a young brother and sister from a broken home. They are Will and Julie Purcell, the children of feuding parents Tom and Lucy Purcell, who have gone missing near woods after riding out to play on their bikes a week after Halloween (below) – a date which, we are told, happens to be the same day that actor Steve McQueen died (November 7, 1980).

In cleverly overlapping scenes, the policemen revisit the case in 1990 when there is a shocking new lead in the disappearance and then in 2015 when Hays’ mind is going due to creeping dementia but the story’s mysteries still haunt him. By 2015 Hays is also shown giving a series of interviews to a real crime-style TV show which opens old wounds. Even at this late stage, 35 years on, the abductions seem unsolved.

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Hays is also a veteran of the Vietnam War – he served as a reconnaissance tracker in the jungle, sometimes spending weeks alone looking for the Viet Cong enemy. He brings his tracking skills to bear in the plotting of this story, but very clearly carries the scars of his soldiering days. By contrast, West seems more stable (a little like the contrast between the two leads in series one where McConaughey's character was smart but wilder and more unpredictable than Harrelson's).

Is True Detective series three any good? REVIEW

After a disappointingly disjointed second series in 2015 exploring murder and corruption in California, the new run represents a welcome return to form (and basics) for Pizzolatto and his team. It also returns to the deep south of the US – a setting which earned the first series the fetching description Southern Gothic.

Our leads (Oscar winner Ali in particular) are first rate; it’s also sublimely written, rewardingly slow and vividly evocative of its world.

The look and feel is also extraordinary, and some wonderful cinematography showcases the beauty and harsh poverty of rural Arkansas. The huge interlinking time jumps work well each episode thanks to some stunning prosthetics (Ali ages particularly well over the 35-year span of the drama). Also, the script deals subtly with the changing nature of racism in this Deep South community, particularly where it affects Ali’s Hays.

The 1980 scenes are particularly good at evoking a sense of place and brutality and menace. It’s the year of the disappearances and here, for example, we meet solitary Vietnam veteran and trash collector Brett Woodard (Michael Greyeyes) living a subsistence existence; he has Native American ancestry and begins attracting the suspicious attentions of the poor, racially bigoted locals. “I miss the time when 'don’t get killed' was not on my to-do list,” he tells our cops in one of the show’s many stark and darkly poetic one liners.

This is quality TV: eerie, tense, gripping, dark and compelling, it's destined to be a small screen highlight of 2019.


True Detective series three starts on Sky Atlantic on Monday 14th January at 9pm