Saturday, March 20, 2010


All I knew about Justified, a new series that recently premiered on FX, is what I saw in that promo poster to the left. At first I thought maybe it was a series based on that Justin Timberlake album, but then I saw the cowboy hat and the gun... and then I really hoped it was based on that album.

"Cry me a river, asshole... from hell!!" BLAM BLAM BLAM!!!

Actually, I assumed it was some western, since it had a guy in a cowboy hat, starred the actor from Deadwood, and was based on characters created by Elmore Leonard. I've never been a huge fan of Leonard's crime novels, but his Westerns are brilliant and underrated. Anyway, the pilot episode is available for free on the iTunes store, so I checked it out.

And it wasn't a Western, but it wasn't exactly not a western either. It's about a modern day marshal... I dunno... plays be his own rules? It's sort of a twist on McCloud, which was about a small town sheriff who moved to the big city, where as this is about a big city marshal who gets into trouble in Miami and has to go back to the small town from where he was from. And, I guess, they both wear cowboy hats. This guy is a lot more bad ass than McCloud. And, yes, this does probably mark the first time that show McCloud was mentioned on a blog in the 21st century... and three times no less! More people need to give props to my boy Dennis Weaver.

Anyway, this was a really good pilot all things considered, though it took a long time to really get going and hook me in, and it was a bit hokey and contrived in places. But it's a pilot, so awkward exposition and forced character/plot contrivances are to be expected in order to move things along and introduce ideas and concepts quickly. The main concept here is that Timothy Olyphant is a tough marshal who... is tough. That's about it. But that's enough, so long as the action is good and there are a lot of fun stand offs against seedy badguys that end with him ramming some guy's face into a steering wheel.

However, even though I would call myself a Timothy Olyphant fan (the fact that he's the star is the main reason I checked it out), I'm still unconvinced that he can carry a series on his own. Sure, he was fantastic as the lead on Deadwood, but that show had an amazing ensemble of characters with whom he could interact. This show has no such ensemble. All of the actors in the supporting roles were competent and likable, but I can't remember anybody's names, nor did the actors leave much of an impression. This is Olyphant's show to carry, and so the pressure on his performance is that much greater. But he acquitted himself well in the scenes where he had to act all badass, so that's really all that matters.

The best part of the show was Walton Goggins as the main villain. He wasn't quite up there with Ian McShane from Deadwood, but he pretty much stole every scene he was in and gave a pretty mesmerizing, scary performance. I've never seen this actor before, but he was pretty awesome. I'm not sure if he was just around for the pilot, but I hope they bring him back. He was good.

Oh, and this was only an hour long. Thank you! Why can't more pilots be the length of a normal episode? I don't have time to invest in two hours unless I already know your show is going to be good. If you can't sell me on your show in only one hour, then you've already lost me.

So... Justified. Not much more to say that what has already been said. I enjoyed it,  and I would definitely come back for the next episode, but I'm not so hooked that I need to set my Tivo just yet. That's a good thing because I don't have a Tivo anyway. But check it out. You might like it, if you liked McCloud. Or just watch McCloud, which is available to watch for free on Netflix!

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