In a year when several sophomore TV seasons exceeded expectations (The Leftovers, Transparent, The Affair), True Detective Season 2 stands out as a low point in an otherwise pretty good year of television. But according to HBO President of Programming Michael Lombardo, showrunner Nic Pizzolatto is not to blame for True Detective's inferior second season: Lombardo took the fall himself.
"Our biggest failures — and I don’t know if I would consider True Detective 2 — but when we tell somebody to hit an air date as opposed to allowing the writing to find its own natural resting place, when it’s ready, when it’s baked — we’ve failed," Lombardo said. "And I think in this particular case, the first season of True Detective was something that Nic Pizzolatto had been thinking about, gestating, for a long period of time."
"I take the blame," Lombardo said, after indicating that he didn't want to skip a year before delivering another season of True Detective, given the premiere season's success. "I became too much of a network executive at that point."
To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time Lombardo has publicly conceded that True Detective Season 2 might have been a disappointment. At the Television Critics Association press tour in July, when True Detective was mid-season, Lombardo insisted that Pizzolatto was “one of the best writers working in film or television who takes big swings," and urged the audience to keep an open mind and prepare for a fantastic season finale. “I think you need to watch the entirety of it,” he said. “I think the season’s ending is as satisfying as any series we’ve done.” (We'll refrain from comment on that claim.)
HBO's mystifying love affair with Pizzolatto notwithstanding, it's still unclear if and when we are going to get a third season of True Detective. In November, HBO signed an overall deal with Pizzolatto that extends through 2018. According to sources who spoke to Variety, a third season of True Detective was under consideration within the deal, but HBO is leaving it up to Pizzolatto if he wants to go it alone, bring in a new showrunner, or expand his writer's room. That doesn't sound like anyone is being "too much of a network executive" to us.