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detectiveAn unscientific survey of recent media reports found that sheer verbiage about the finale of the second season of HBO’s “True Detective” outnumbered clear-headed analyses of the proposed Iran nuclear treaty by a factor of 1,000-to-1.

I expect that any day there will be an open letter from three dozen retired generals and eminent nuclear physicists explaining why they feel, like so many, that the noir crime-corruption series sucked at an extremely high decibel level.

There were few kind notices about the convoluted Southern Californian tale that required 50-inch explainers each week to decode the twists and turns of an overwrought plot built around everything from screwed-up family relations and sex trafficking to high-speed rail and screwed-up hippie communes.

Nevertheless, I don’t understand the tsunami of rotten tomatoes flung at the show. I admit Vince Vaughn wasn’t the best casting decision for an up-from-the-streets crime boss. He delivered most of his lines with the passion of a hungover clown performing his fifth kids’ party on a single Saturday afternoon.

But I was entertained — or immobilized after the Leonard Cohen cement mixer of a song that opened each episode  — while I watched week after week. Still, I hope no other auteur-director will employ multiple scenes of the most depressing folk singer in the world performing dirges in the background over important lines mumbled by main characters. Banjos and accordions — shudder — would have been better, especially at drowning out those important mumbles.

A fall from critical grace was inevitable for TD 2.0 after the much-heralded first season.

I was late to the hallowed first season after somehow getting HBO on demand in a cable TV package far more confusing than the second season’s sprawling plot. All I’d wanted was to add SF Giants games and to discontinue Showtime because the third season of “Homeland” was so wretched, for reasons I won’t elaborate. 

Somehow, I ended up with Showtime still, and a few other premium channels on a monthly Comcast package that would require the attention of a true detective to explain. Consequently, I binge-watched the first season of TD in another one of my periodic and hapless attempts to catch up with current pop culture.

Truth be told, 1.0’s plot was just as complicated as 2.0’s, and all the bayou scenery got on your nerves as much as all the overhead freeway shots in the second season.

Much of the appeal for 1.0 was the dime-store philosophy mumbled by the Matthew McConaughey detective as he drove down many hot roads with his window rolled down with the Woody Harrelson detective. I can’t remember any of these cosmic cogitations. Nor can I remember the brand of car McConaughey hawked  in a series of commercials tied to the success of TD 1.0. My inner Sherlock deduces he’s not a good pitchman for either pessimistic world views or new Chryslers.

One thing certain: Colin Farrell will not be aping his TD 2.0 detective in any car commercials. On the other hand, I would certainly watch Rachel McAdams reprise her 2.0 role in late-night ads for amazing sets of cutlery.

I do have one gripe about TD 2.0 that I believe has gone unremarked upon by the thousands of professional and amateur critics who buried the show in a toxic landfill of negativity. In his lurch-across-the-desert death scene, Vince Vaughn’s character encounters many ghosts from his formative years. The salt-flat setting was reminiscent of many car ads. I think it would have made perfect sense for Matthew McConaughey to glide up in one of those luxury cars he’s been selling, roll down the window and tell Vaughn one of the secrets of the universe.

Vaughn, of course, would have flung several blood-smeared blue diamonds at the car and gasped, “You’re mumbling. I don’t understand!” TD 2.0 really face-planted by failing to include this scene. It could have meant easy critical redemption for the whole thing. Or not.

BONUS LOCAL ANGLE: There was talk that some of TD 2.0 was shot in Monterey County, either in Big Sur or on the Peninsula. I didn’t notice any local scenery, but there was a passing reference to Monterey itself in the script.One character said a huge orgy with a bunch of fat-cat businessmen, corrupt politicians and drugged prostitutes took place at one businessman’s home in Monterey. This struck me as patently ridiculous, if not downright insulting to the good people of Monterey.

Everyone knows that Monterey’s tight zoning laws and neighborhood parking regulations effectively proscribe huge orgies. I should think the current City Council will be seeking an immediate apology from HBO.


If you watched “The Jinx,” you know this is Robert Durst. If you didn’t, you shouldn’t be reading this

I try to avoid getting sucked into “what everybody’s watching” because then I am compelled to offer my opinions on the latest buzz-generating shows.

Then I can’t help but feel like my father, who with the wisdom of older age, would go toe-to-toe with anyone who doubted “The Beverley Hillbillies” was the finest, funniest TV show ever created.

Devotees of the much-yammered-about, HBO true-crime documentary “The Jinx” will notice I misspelled Beverly in the preceding sentence. It’s my way of showing that I failed this time around and got sucked into watching.

I watched five of the six installments of “The Jinx” and filled in the rest by reading copious news stories about Sunday’s final one, with its startling ending, that appeared online before the show was broadcast in the Pacific Time Zone.

Now I am forced to share a few thoughts about it here by the Monterey Bay Partisan water cooler.

  • Robert Durst, the eccentric billionaire and triple murderer (convicted easily by my peers in “The Jinx” viewership, is certainly a reprehensible piece of work. Duplicitous killer of estranged wife, female confidant and meanest housemate ever in Galveston, Texas.

I wearied quickly of seeing snippets of the exclusive interviews with this self-entitled piece of human garbage and wished the filmmakers could have shortened the whole thing to, say, 90 minutes.

  • The repetitive reenactments — train car closing, woman friend falling dead in her Los Angeles apartment, mystery person dropping “cadaver” letter in mailbox — were cheesy and should have been left on the editing floor during the 10 years — TEN YEARS — it took to make the documentary.
  • The producers, who will win a bunch of awards for “The Jinx,” obtained two pieces of presumably new evidence against the homicidal black sheep of his powerful New York real estate family. They were a letter apparently sent by Durst to his murdered friend with the same writing and misspelling of “Beverley” as an anonymous letter sent by the killer; and a leaked private investigator’s report that shattered Durst’s alibi for the night his wife disappeared first given to police by a New York City doorman.
  • Two things were bothersome about this new evidence.

First, the incriminating “Beverley” letter apparently sat in a bank safety deposit box for at least two years while the film makers wrapped up the series and its heart-stopping (not really, but it was a fine ending) conclusion in the final episode.

That’s a lot of time to allow an apparent killer to roam free, doing God knows what, because viewers are never shown how Durst lived with his estimated $100 million fortune.

Instead, we see him wandering around like a confused old man in various New York City locations and twitching his eyes in close-up shots of at least three interview sessions for which dates are never given.

Second, if the private investigator working for the Durst empire (presumably to control the embarrassing fact that a body-chopping killer was loose on the family tree) got the alibi-smashing information from the doorman, you’d think the NYC cops could have, too, with a follow-up interview or two. But the detective who originally caught the missing-wife case is hung out to dry, looking like a fool.

By the way, if the family hired the private eye to contain the story, their strategy didn’t work very well, given all the slices of tabloid headlines and TV news stories that help pad the six-episode documentary.

  • If someone puts a microphone on you during an interview, take the darn thing off before you start babbling to yourself while taking a bathroom break.

Durst’s defense team will have plenty to play with when it comes to attacking the troubling, apparent confession to killing “them all” that the doddering Durst mutters to himself amid the sounds of relieving himself in the show’s big finale.

That it took the producers two years — from when to when? — to locate this incriminating audio amid the interviews with Durst goes again to the basic ethical question: Should we tell the cops what we found about this triple killer walking the streets, or wait until we finish this boffo documentary?

  • Interviews with two third-generation members of Durst’s family — a niece and nephew troubled to learn about this skeleton in the family closet — added nothing but more footage to the over-long exposition.

A guitar behind the nephew in his interview scenes made me wish he would use it to sing an original song like “The Ballad of My Crazy Uncle,” but no such luck.

  • The ensuing coverage of Durst’s case after his arrest in New Orleans the day before the final episode aired — he was said to have cash, fake passport and other requisite items to go on the lam — should provide fodder for another fine documentary.

I know I can wait 10 years.