Judge David Johnson shoots first and asks questions later. Then shoots again, just to be sure.
The best new show on TV last year.
FX continues to impress with its original programming and this adaptation of an Elmore Leonard short story may be its most entertaining hourlong yet. Read on if you like, but the short of it: buy this set and watch this show.
Facts of the Case
U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant, Live Free or Die Hard) finds himself shipped back to his hometown of Harlan, Kentucky following a shooting incident in Miami. He's not thrilled with the prospect.
Almost immediately, old wounds are torn open as Raylan clashes with his boyhood-friend-turned-white-supremacist-criminal Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins, Predators), reconnects with his estranged ex-wife (Natalie Zea), confronts his lawless father, and single-handedly takes on the entire Crowder criminal empire. In his downtime, he does Marshal-y stuff.
I love this show. It is precisely up my alley. It's funny, stocked with quirky characters, features a badass Alpha dog in Timothy Olyphant, and co-stars Walton Goggins—one of the most underrated and screwed-out-of-award-season-TV actors we have working today.
Olyphant is perfectly suited for the Givens character. Laid back and imposing when need be, his wry line delivery is a great match for the wit woven into the script. Givens is very much a classic hero; flawed, yes (women are his blindside), but unrelenting in his duties and wholly committed to a code of honor, namely, "If you draw your gun, I will shoot you in the face until you die."
Givens' conflict with the Crowder clan is the driving narrative for the season. At first, it appears his primary antagonist will be Boyd, but the writers made the right decision in giving Boyd a juicier arc than simply the "heavy." As Givens tangles with Boyd's dirtbag father and his criminal empire, Boyd appears to undergo a repentant transformation. His sincerity is at question throughout and doesn't get resolved until a hugely satisfying finale.
Meanwhile, there are one-off adventures along the way, featuring U.S. Marshal stuff like defusing hostage situations and tracking down dangerous fugitives, which typically ends with gunfire exchange. There isn't a clunker episode in the bunch and, like any good series, the blending of one-and-done stories with a season-long arc offers something for everyone.
Justified is a mix of humor, action, and excellent storytelling. Track down this DVD set and blast through it like the champ you are!
On DVD, the show looks great in its 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, the sights of the dust-ragged south rendered with gusto and its Dolby 5.1 surround mix is clean and enveloping. Extras: cast and crew commentaries on four episodes; featurettes on Elmore Leonard, the characters, the story, the shooting location and the U.S. Marshals; a preview of Season 2; and a music video.
Part Western, part procedural, part family drama, Justified does not easily claim a genre, but it's my pick for 2010 TV's best. Get these DVDs.
Not Guilty. Don't pull on me, boy.
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Scales of Justice
• Episode Commentaries
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