8.10.2015

the twisted geography of #truedetective


True Detective Season 2 was an unmitigated disaster. A riveting one, but still, a disaster. With the benefit of hindsight, I tried to recap the season for Wifey. I got two sentences in before I confused myself and had to abort mission. I've been told  by the internet that it reached the "so-bad-it's-good" threshold, but I maintain it motored right past that marker and did a full 360 back to simply bad. It did have some redeeming qualities, primarily the unintentionally (maybe?) hilarious dialogue (the unanimous winner = “It’s like blue balls, in your heart.”

But the main problem I had, the thing that had me shouting at my TV, was not the ludicrous, unintelligible plot. It was Nic Pizzolatto's weird geography of the West Coast.

1. The story acts like it's totally no big deal to travel from Ventura County to southern Los Angeles. It's an hour fifteen from Oxnard to Vernon with Google painting the route blue. With traffic? You're looking at at least two hours. If you want to argue they were working from closer in Ventura County, fine, but I distinctly remember there being coastline involved, and the distance from there is virtually identical. But the show acts like these places are just down the road from each other.



2. At one point during the whole "environmentally damaged properties near the high speed rail route" storyline, they visit Fresno. Now aside from the fact that Fresno is a good three hours from Fresno on a good day, the picture they paint of Fresno is some bucolic mountainside farming area.

This is not what Fresno County farmland looks like:


This is what Fresno County farmland looks like:


Are there areas of Fresno county out in the foothills that could look like the first picture? Sure. But that's not where any proposed high speed rail line would go.

3. One of the crimes in the story takes place in the hippy enclave of Guerneville. Officers show up there immediately. Except Guerneville is 7 hours away by car and 2 hours by plane (plus renting a car and driving a few more hours). The show doesn't necessarily need to mention all this travel, but someone from the east coast must be assuming this is all in the same area, since travel is not mentioned at all.


4. There's also a lot of casual mentions of heading to Oregon. Sounds nice. Except that's an 11 hour drive. If you want to get out of the state quick, head east! You can make Nevada and Arizona in a few hours.


5. Possibly the most baffling case of geographical confusion occurred in the finale. Velcoro finds a tracker on his car, in Los Angeles. He drives to plan his confrontation, and ends up in a grove of what look to me to be redwoods, where he meets his ultimate demise. The news reports of his death indicate Porterville. Well, there are no redwoods in Porterville. But if you head east into the mountains, there are. From Los Angeles to the Trail of 100 Giants in Kern County, it's 3.5 hours. Am I supposed to assume Velcoro just so happened to have a full tank of gas (though the Dodge Charger does get pretty good freeway mileage) and they just yada yada yada's a three and a half hour drive? Well they yada yada yada'd longer drives, so I guess I answered my own question.



All in all, the show treated the enormous state of California like it was Rhode Island. Geography - the most ridiculous aspect of a ridiculous show.
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