The anthology series “True Detective” (8 p.m. and 9 p.m., HBO, TV-MA) returns for a third season. Creator Nic Pizzolatto also serves as co-writer on every episode. The first season of “True” was a revelation, profoundly literary, blending elements of pulp fiction and deeper, darker themes that had this critic comparing it to Dostoyevsky. The second season was so forgettable that cheeky promoters for FX’s “Fargo,” another novelistic series from a single writer, promised that their show would not suffer a “sophomore slump.”
Much like the first season, this “Detective” plays with our sense of time, linear storytelling and memory. Detectives Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”) and Roland West (Stephen Dorff, “Somewhere”) investigate the disappearance of two children from a broken home in a hardscrabble corner of the Ozarks. The story ricochets around the decades, from 1980, when the children go missing, to 1990, when new evidence prompts a fresh investigation, to the present day, when a documentary filmmaker probes unanswered questions involving the case.
Not to give too much away, but the case brings Wayne close to a local schoolteacher, Amelia Reardon (Carmen Ejogo), with close ties to the missing children. By 1990, they are married and have children of their own, and Amelia has become somewhat celebrated for the book she has written about the case. By present day, she has departed, and so have some of Wayne’s memory and mental faculties.
Like the best of the first season, this “Detective” asks us to think about the different natures of reporting, remembering and recollecting facts and memories from the recent and distant past. Not unlike the first two seasons of “Fargo,” this series also explores the unspoken impact of war on veterans.
Wayne’s prowess as a sleuth is based at least in part on his experience as a tracker during the Vietnam War, a soldier sent out on his own to hunt down and kill enemy forces, often alone for days and weeks at time. The havoc that such experiences have played on Wayne’s conscious and subconscious life is among the more harrowing aspects of this series.
Clearly part of the prestige television revolution of the post-”Sopranos” era (now in its 20th year), “True Detective” also reflects some of the shortcomings of the long form. Not every story is worthy of eight hours of your time.
- Exploring a bygone, vanished epoch that is only 25 years in our past, the six-part miniseries “Valley of the Boom” (8 p.m. and 9 p.m., National Geographic, TV-14) profiles some of the visionaries behind the development of the internet.
Blending scripted elements and documentary-style talking-head observations from some of its surviving subjects, “Boom” looks back at Marc Andreessen (John Karna), one of the coders behind the Netscape browser; Stephan Paternot (Dakota Shapiro) and Todd Krizelman (Oliver Cooper), whose TheGlobe.com chat room presaged social media giants like Facebook; and Michael Fenne (Steve Zahn), a stranger-than-fiction character who dreamed of a world where folks streamed video on the web
- Scheduled on “60 Minutes” (6 p.m., CBS): An interview with Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.); an architect who turned his blindness into a professional advantage; China’s bet on artificial intelligence.
- Daniel Radcliffe stars in the 2001 adaptation of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (6 p.m., NBC).
- Taye Diggs hosts the 24th Annual Critics Choice Awards (6 p.m., CW)
- Fashion proprietors envision a charitable payoff on “Shark Tank” (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
- “Victoria” on “Masterpiece” (8 p.m., PBS) enters its third season, followed by a documentary look at “Victoria & Albert: The Wedding” (9 p.m., PBS)
Kids’ culinary mishaps on “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (7 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) ... Too many requests on “God Friended Me” (7 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) ... Matchmaking on “Bob’s Burgers” (7:30 p.m., Fox, TV-PG)
© 2019 United Feature Synd.