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HBO gets into anthology game with tonight’s ‘True Detective’ premiere

HBO has always been a cable trendsetter, but the present day idea of an ever-changing anthology series actually can be credited back to FX, who’s “American Horror Story” is a smash hit. Tonight though HBO will take what they’ve learned from “AHS” and merge it with their own creative touch to create “True Detective,” which promises to giver “Horror” a run for its money.

"True Detective" airs on HBO

The first one through the wall is always the bloodiest. And that’s exactly what happened (sometimes literally) with FX when they launched “Horror.” This was a unique experiment and nobody could wrap their heads around the fact the show would literally be one-and-done. This was unique and to some “terrifying” concept in this sequel-obsessed pop culture landscape. Yet it also worked.

People may crave familiarity, but “Horror” showed just keeping something as simple as the title in tact was enough for audiences. Just tacking a simple tagline like “Asylum” or “Coven” was all viewers needed to relate to a franchise. HBO is banking on that same concept with “Detective” and based on the round of opening reviews all echo that it was a smart investment.

Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson don't just reach that bar, but sometimes seem to soar over it.” – USA Today

“It’s another worthy occupant for HBO’s 9 p.m. slot on Sunday nights.” – NY Daily News

“Detective” stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as two cops who in 1995 teamed up to solve a murder, but nearly 20 years later have been forced to re-open the investigation. Set in Louisiana (just like fellow HBO series “True Blood” and “Treme”), the series heavily relies on flashbacks to fill in the gaps for audiences and move the plot along.

Without a doubt landing McConaughey and Harrelson as leads was a big coup for HBO, but not surprisingly given the network’s track record. However what makes this different is that the pair are only expected to be around for the first self-contained season. Subsequent seasons are expected to center on other mysteries, as the show’s executive producer Nic Pizzolatto recently told reporters..

“There could be a season that’s much more of a wide-spread conspiracy thriller, a season that’s a small town murder mystery, a season where nobody is murdered and it’s a master criminal versus a master detective.”

Clearly the options are open and ever since “Luck” failed to take off, HBO has been hunting for a new winter anchor to carry them into “Game of Thrones.” However this also opens the door for HBO to continue its Emmy dominance as “Detective” would more than likely qualify under the mini-series category and not drama.

As a result, the network now could close the gap even further that FX has created in that category thanks to its strong casts. The move would also ensure it doesn’t cannibalize perianal drama nominees “Boardwalk Empire,” and “Game of Thrones.”

No matter how you look at it “Detective” is just the latest in a long line of shows HBO has championed as their next big thing and with both “Boardwalk Empire” and “True Blood” ending their runs this year, it looks like it couldn’t have come at a better time.

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