Sky and streaming service Now will debut a show this coming Monday, 15 January 2024, that I've eagerly-awaited for years, with HBO screening it in the US the night before. However, I've seen the first episode already (in gloriously suitable surroundings) and it's everything I'd hoped and more.
True Detective: Night Country is as dark and moody as the original first season, yet also something different – more like a spinoff than a true season 4. The first episode does complement previous seasons for sure, with a similarly intriguing, almost other-worldly murder plot, but it also has an essence of Twin Peaks and Sky's own Fortitude about it (which also features Christopher Eccleston, funny enough).
That's largely thanks to horror writer / director Issa López being at the helm this time around, taking over from series creator and writer, Nic Pizzolatto. She has given the franchise a much-needed second pair of eyes and an even darker tone. Literally.
Set in the town of Ennis, Alaska during its annual month of perpetual night, the show is foreboding and tense. Claustrophobic even. It's a trope shared with the comic book series (and less celebrated movie) 30 Days of Night, and we suspect that could have been an inspiration.
There are (likely) fewer vampires, of course, and the focus is more on the eponymous detectives, but the tone is similar. The lack of daytime makes everything feel far more sinister, and so the episode plays out as we get to know our protagonists and the situation in which they find themselves.
The lead is played by the always superb Jodie Foster, who is joined by former World Championship boxer, Kali Reis. She too is excellent in her first major role (from what I've seen so far, anyway). True Detective has always managed to attract some heavyweight names – but this time it's for real.
I won't spoil much more for you, as the mainstay of the show's allure is the gradual unveiling of the plot and purpose (including some grisly findings), but the first episode's runtime flew past and reassuringly left me wanting more.
I was also fortunate enough to see it in style, during a screening held by Sky and the Now streaming service at the Peter Harrison Planetarium in Greenwich, London. This meant myself and a bunch of celebrities watched the episode on the inner dome, surrounded by the night sky and Northern Lights. It was also freezing outside that evening, which coincidentally added to the effect.
In fact, UK fans can also get the same experience on 22 January, as Sky and Now combined have a limited number of free tickets available to watch episodes 1 and 2 in the same location. I cannot recommend it enough.
The same can be said of the show. I've only seen the debut episode for now, but am very eager to continue. It might not hit quite the same heights as the outstanding first season, but there are few other crime dramas like it.
Those in the States can watch it on HBO or Max from Sunday 14 January.