Arts

TV Critic’s Corner

HBO’s ‘True Detective’ returns after three-year hiatus

“True Detective” is moving on from season 2, which starred Rachel McAdams and Colin Farrell.
Lacey Terrell/HBO
“True Detective” is moving on from season 2, which starred Rachel McAdams and Colin Farrell.

HBO has finally announced the premiere date for season 3 of “True Detective”: It’s Jan.13. The cable channel’s advertising line for the eight-episode season ought to be something like, “It HAS to be better than season 2,” that muddy effort at noir atmosphere that ended three years ago.

This time around, the anthology series stars Mahershala Ali, who won an Oscar for “Moonlight,” and Stephen Dorff. Ali plays Wayne Hays, a state cop from Arkansas haunted by something in his past, and Dorff plays Roland West, an Arkansas state investigator. The cast also includes Josh Hopkins, Sarah Gadon, Jon Tenney, Mamie Gummer, Scoot McNairy, Carmen Ejogo, and Deborah Ayorinde.

Creator Nic Pizzolatto wrote all the episodes of the season, including one, episode 4, co-written by “Deadwood” guy David Milch. There’s a trailer out there that doesn’t give up much solid information about the story line, but it makes it clear that the action will be set in three separate time periods. It also makes it look like the season will indeed better than season 2. Fingers crossed.

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Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.