Any number of factors went into the critical decline of True Detective Season 2, whether the absence of its first cast’s particular magic, or its attempts to recreate the same flavor with often-laughable results. Series creator Nic Pizzolatto has been notoriously reclusive since the flop, but HBO is stepping up to take the blame for Season 2’s rushed feeling.

While Pizzolatto himself remains largely out of reach, HBO boss Mike Lombardo admitted in interviews with The Frame that True Detective Season 2 lacked the years-long gestation of its predecessor, thereby softening creator Nic Pizzolatto’s approach. The revered network boss instead believes that Season 1’s success went to his own head, placing too much pressure on the second:

I’ll tell you something. 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. 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. He’s a soulful writer. I think what we did was go, “Great.” And I take the blame. I became too much of a network executive at that point. We had huge success. “Gee, I’d love to repeat that next year.”

Well, you know what? I set him up. To deliver, in a very short time frame, something that became very challenging to deliver. That’s not what that show is. He had to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. Find his muse. And so I think that’s what I learned from it. Don’t do that anymore.

And while True Detective Season 3 remains somewhat in limbo, that hasn’t stopped Lombardo from re-enrolling Pizzolatto with HBO for additional projects, thereby keeping the option open. Even if Pizzolatto only remains aboard in an executive producer capacity, at least Season 1 director Cary Fukunaga, has himself ruled out returning for a third year.

We’ll likely hear more of True Detective’s future from the coming TCA press tour, but does HBO have a point about pushing too hard for Season 2? Might Pizzolatto had delivered a better product with more time?

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