Entertainment: True Detective, Project Blue Book, and Resident Evil 2

by Charles Gerian

Too much to cover, too little time!

In the landscape of film, not much has been happening as the industry and world at large quietly await the nominees for the 91st Annual Academy Awards on January 22. Otherwise, WB's spectacular and entertaining AQUAMAN passed $1 billion dollars this past weekend, and M. Night Shyamalan's GLASS will be opening this upcoming weekend which I plan to see and review.

On TV though, things are heating up. The new year always brings with it some high profile programming and this past weekend saw premium cable channel HBO's TRUE DETECTIVE return for it's third season after a two year hiatus where it recovered from a critically maligned but brilliant and often daring second season that didn't click with audiences the same way the Matthew McConaughey/Woody Harrelson season 1 had.

Modeled in the same vein as real life tragedies like the West Memphis Three or the Oklahoma Girl Scout Murders, TRUE DETECTIVE follows two detectives in West Finger, Arkansas deep within the Ozarks in late 1980, who are tasked with finding two children who have gone missing on a cold, quiet, October night. Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali and character actor Stephen Dorff play the two leads as the series takes place in 1980, 1990, and 2015 covering three very different and very tragic moments in time for Detective Hays (Ali) who is suffering from dementia and suffering perhaps more from the sins of his past.

HBO premiered the first two episodes of the 8-episode season and what was presented was something bold, dark, and methodical. The fact alone that the “hero” of the show is a conservative African-American detective and his disgruntled yet loyal white partner sets it apart from most law enforcement related TV series that are so focused on political identity they overshadow themselves, while TRUE DETECTIVE seems more focused on subverting them. Seeing children die or in danger is always pretty rough and macabre, and while Season 2 toned down the horror and dread from Season 1, it appears Season 3 might be doubling down on mysterious darkness with a firmly established cult, pedophile ring, secret rituals, and of course...murder. If you're into dramas and mystery shows, TRUE DETECTIVE is the best thing you can watch. If you're into damn good television, ditto on that too.

While a bit removed from death cults and stoic crime-fighters, another great series that kicked off last week was History Channel's PROJECT BLUE BOOK following nation-wide investigations by the U.S. Government from the late 1940's into the 1960's into sightings of UFOs and extra-terrestrial beings. The scripted drama is based on actual unclassified documents and the detailed accounts of it's real life subjects, UFOlogist and Astronomer J. Allen Hynek (portrayed by Game of Thrones alumni Aiden Gillen) and U.S. Air Force Captain Michael Quinn (Vampire Diaries star Michael Malarkey) who form an unlikely duo as they step into the unknown.

I never saw “Vikings” on History Channel so I went into Blue Book with no exposure to how History could handle a scripted drama series and I was blown away. The production value was top notch and the cinematography alone could put most premium channels (Showtime, I'm looking at you) to shame. The series itself is enthralling. It's creepy as Hell and looks like it'll only get more and more bizarre as it goes on. Flashes of the Men in Black, hints of real-life shadow organizations like The Majestic 12...this is “X-Files” by way of “Mad Men”.

Finally, in the world of electronics, Capcom released the “One Shot” demo for their hotly anticipated RESIDENT EVIL 2 reimagining over the weekend. This demo, timed for only 30-minutes of playtime, allows die hard fans to get a small taste of what's to come when the game releases next Friday, January 25. The player takes control of rookie cop Leon S. Kennedy and has to make their way through the Hellish nightmare that is the Raccoon City Police Department. For RE fans, this is shaping up to be a dream come true. Extremely gory, oftentimes frightening (I jumped out of my chair at one part), and with gameplay as smooth as silk, RESIDENT EVIL 2 is amplified by incredible sound design, a biting atmosphere, and some already convincing voice-acting. I played it on PlayStation 4 but the demo is available on Steam and X-Box One as well.