Long Takes: Not Only Reserved for the Silver Screen.



There is a very serious, and albeit under-researched medical condition known as ‘post-finale depression‘. This condition is identified in those who feel saddened or depressed following the finale of a favourite TV series, and must bounce back from the mourning period with another TV series to consume. It was at this point in my post Breaking Bad-finale depression that a friend pointed me in the direction of HBO’s True Detective.

As a person of seriously limited time, I don’t like to waste it on just any TV show. So I decided to have a look on YouTube for a trailer of the series, however, one of the top videos to come up was this:

This media text is an excerpt of True Detective‘s fourth episode, “Who Goes There?”. As the video’s title suggests, it is a “6 minute tracking shot” featuring “no edits, no cuts“. Personally, I found that the media text draws similarities from Alfonso Cuaron’s “Children of Men”, which features similar long takes (which can be viewed here and here). Nevertheless, True Detective director Cary Joji Fukunaga has masterfully displayed the art of direction and action choreography whilst producing a suspenseful modern suburban war zone. After watching this spectacular, yet very ambigious and out-of-context long take, I immediately jumped into what is now one of my favourite TV series. The text itself was the catalyst as to why I decided to start watching the series, so I wonder whether the text may have had such a similar effect on other viewers.

True Detective‘s creator, the American television network HBO, is both the home to high quality and highly exclusive drama series. As the HBO network limits it’s audience exclusively to Pay-TV, I was surprised that such a lengthy scene was available on YouTube. The text currently has close to half a million views in a month, yet was uploaded by YouTube user “Axhol3Rose”, who I assume is not at all affiliated with HBO. This can be compared to the official trailer (which can be viewed here) of the series which was uploaded by HBO to YouTube. The trailer has received just over 1 million views in 5 months.

MTV's article

MTV’s article


Furthermore, as the text was uploaded by a random YouTube user rather than HBO officially, the text addresses the ‘produsage’ element to the show’s popularity. In addition to the 600 or so comments on the YouTube clip, the 6-minute scene has been subject to numerous web articles; including those from MTV (see left), The Guardian (see below), and Vulture.



The Guardian's coverage.

The Guardian’s coverage.

Many of these articles include interviews with Fukunaga and the technical crew behind the text. These articles and comments provide insight not only into the manufacturing of the scene, but also its meaning and context.

I originally assumed the show’s intended audience to primarily be amongst Western nations. However, what I did not know was that HBO does have an Asian network where True Detective was aired. Considering the detective genre has a huge market amongst Asian audiences, it would be interesting to track the shows reception within Asia. I would also like to know whether piracy or other illegal means of viewing the show have had a significant impact on its popularity, considering the media text uploaded on YouTube does breach copyright law. Episode 4 of True Detective garnered close to 2 million viewers on HBO, whereas close to 200,000 people have illegally downloaded the episode. Similarly, HBO’s other massive hit Game of Throne Season 3 finale had more illegal downloads then US viewers.

With True detective now at an end, I am again slumped with the feeling of post-finale depression until Game of Thrones starts back up in 9 days…


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