I just finished reading Nic Pizzolatto’s very well crafted script for the crime drama True Detective S1E1, and man o man was it good!
Broken down, the episode 1 script is a character drama sitting inside a cop show that follows a 3-Act structure that’s framed around two protagonists, or, you could say, one protagonist and a very well developed ally. The semantics in that regard don’t really matter, instead it’s more how Pizzolatto wrote it.
It’s a crime show, so it’s plot driven, but smartly spends its time introducing and opening up Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson). And it escalates! The whole way, thank Christ.
It has this back and forth motion going on that’s split between two different time periods and pushed along by any new information in the Dora Lange case, the plot. So, in between waiting or acting upon new information to come up, the story tackles the complex relationship between Cohle and Hart. No spoilers here, you’ll need to watch it to find out the hows.
It also does this cool little thing where it unravels more of Cohle and Hart’s character threads by having something develop at a turning point for a plot driven scene, which sets up Pizzolatto to then be able to go into more stuff concerning either Cohle or Hart.
It’s a great trick that I’ll have to keep in mind and one that reminds me of the script for The Exorcist, another favourite. See, The Exorcist is also a twin protagonist story that interlaces each protagonists journey through the plot. And fuck it’s tight! Great script. True Detective has some of that going on too.
That said, I must admit, sometimes I could hear Pizzolatto’s voice coming through instead of the characters’ but that doesn’t matter when you got gold in your hands.