True Detective

Few shows have experienced as many ups and downs as True Detective, whose Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson-starring first season was one of the most acclaimed programs of the decade, but whose Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn-starring second season … was not.

The show took more than three years off between season two and season three, as creator Nic Pizzolatto worked to find a story he was passionate about telling (rather than season two’s confusing morass), and it’s resulted in a straightforward, down-to-Earth rural noir, set in Arkansas, spanning 35 years, and grounded by a great performance from Oscar winner Mahershala Ali. There’s probably no way the series can recapture the huge buzz its first season garnered — for one thing, big movie stars doing TV shows is now somewhat common — but the rich and evocative third season does resurrect some of season one’s melancholic magic.

“The new season has some of this same incomprehensibility [of season 1 and 2], but a relatively small amount. Everything about it is toned down.” Willa Paskin, Slate

Metacritic score: 70 out of 100

Where to watch: New episodes of True Detective air Sundays at 9 pm Eastern on HBO, with previous episodes and seasons available on HBO’s streaming platforms.