'True Detective' season 2: How new episodes compare to season one

The second season of 'Detective' stars Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams, Vince Vaughn, and Taylor Kitsch, among other actors. 

Lacey Terrell/HBO/AP
'True Detective' stars Colin Farrell.

The second season of the HBO drama “True Detective” premiered on June 21, with cast members including Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams, Vince Vaughn, and Taylor Kitsch.

The show’s first season, which aired in 2014, took place in Louisiana and starred actors Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as police detectives Rust Cohle (McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Harrelson), who are drawn into a bizarre conspiracy. Both actors were nominated for Emmy awards for Best Actor in a Drama Series for their roles. 

The second season features an all-new setting and characters and takes place in California. Farrell stars as a crooked police detective named Ray Velcoro; McAdams is troubled police detective Ani Bezzerides; Kitsch’s character Paul Woodrugh is a highway patrolman; and Vaughn plays a white-collar criminal attempting to siphon federal funds from a transportation project. Like the first season, the second will consist of eight episodes.

While opinions of the first season varied as it went on, one aspect of the first season of "Detective" that received much praise was the pairing of McConaughey and Harrelson. As for the second season, Associated Press critic Frazier Moore, for one, found Farrell and Vaughn to be "excellent ... Even darker than last year, this season sets out on one very black journey, both visually and tonally."

Farrell, McAdams, Kitsch, and Vaughn would be an impressive lineup for a movie, never mind a TV show, which might be due to the relative ease of casting a show with an anthology format. So far, actors have only needed to sign on for one season, and the creators have managed to draw a higher caliber of star to the show in its first two seasons.

Another current show with an anthology format, FX's "Fargo," has managed to cast Hollywood stars Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton for its first season, which aired in 2014. The show will feature a new cast for its next season, according to the Associated Press

"True Detective's" format has had other networks crying foul when it comes to awards season, however. During the last Emmys season, many were baffled by the categories in which some shows were placed for nominations – for example, “Detective” was nominated for Best Drama but “Fargo” received a nod for Best Miniseries. FX Networks CEO John Landgraf said he believes networks like HBO have an advantage in a Best Drama category because they can lure stars with one-season contracts. “My own personal point of view is that a miniseries is a story that ends, a series is a story that continues,” he said, according to TheWrap. “To tell you the truth, I think it’s actually unfair for HBO to put ‘True Detective’ in the drama series category because essentially you can get certain actors to do a closed-ended series … who you can’t get to sign on for a seven-year deal.”

If the second season of “Detective” is a success, HBO may bring on even more big names for future seasons of the drama.

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