Hail to the Eight

Of all the talk generated by the HBO Go-crashing finale of True Detective, the comments I most agreed with had to do with its episode number.


Not in any flat circle, spectral kind of way, but because eight was the right number of chapters for the first season of that drama series.

Eight episodes, with new entries spread a week apart, except for the Super Bowl Sunday they skipped. (Fortunately Showtime aired a new Shameless that night, to plug another of my faves.)

Even critics who found the show uneven, who maybe disliked the treatment of female characters or found the Matthew McConaughey character’s philosophical musings unpersuasive, could agree that it was an entertaining return on a modest investment of viewing time.

Especially for a series, or at least a season, that’s selfcontained, with a fully wrapped ending, eight hours makes for a satisfying cycle.

And it’s a story you could binge in a single day. One comment I saw under Alan Sepinwall’s Hitfix.com review of the finale was from someone who said he (or she) was more likely to keep and rewatch True Detective than to keep and rewatch all 62 episodes of Breaking Bad. I love Breaking Bad and received the Blu-ray set as a gift, and can report it makes for fine occasional viewing, and no one has to watch all 62 in sequence to enjoy it, but I still like that observation.

BBC America’s drama Broadchurch, another of 2013’s best, most buzzed-about series, also went with the eight-hour motif. British series have long gone with six- or eight-episode seasons, and that’s caught on here as well.

I also like longer seasons, say 13 episodes, and applaud the variety of formats available now in TV’s Golden Age.

But for True Detective, eight was great.

Kent Gibbons

Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Nexttv.com. Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.