Monday, August 24, 2015
Without a doubt, I consider JUSTIFIED the best television series I have ever watched. And I've seen a few. Although I might love FIREFLY the most, JUSTIFIED was actually the best-written, best-acted program I have experienced; surely there are fans of others, say OZ, THE SOPRANOS, THE WIRE, or DEADWOOD who might dispute my assertion, but for my money I support this drama, based upon short stories and novels by one of my favorite authors, Elmore Leonard. Timothy Olyphant absolutely nailed Raylan Givens, the wise-cracking, serious, fast-draw U.S. marshal sent back from a stint in Miami (in which he is cleared of a justified, but questioned, shooting of a local mobster) to clean up his home state of Kentucky (mostly Harlan County). He is forced to deal with many Appalachian ghosts and still-active criminals from his past, including his father Arlo (Raymond J. Barry), an ex wife, and many friends and acquaintances. Almost every actor in this show was wonderful. No long-running episodic show can do well without a witty, smart, sympathetic villain; in this case the role is the scheming Boyd Crowder, masterfully and delightfully played by Walton Goggins (simply excellent, and I loved his occasional turns as a transsexual on SONS OF ANARCHY too), with whom Raylan has a long-standing association going back to when they mined for coal as boys. They share a female interest in Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter), the ultimate survivor. I should note here that JUSTIFIED had probably the best roles for strong women top to bottom than any other series I can recall. My favorite character was Raylan's boss Art Mullen (Nick Searcy), but I also liked his coworkers, ex sniper Tim Gutterson (Jacob Pitts) and earnest Rachel Brooks (Erica Tazel). Another long-running adversary and survivor was the sun-tanning, trailer-living Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns). I can't simply list the parade of wonderful characters (good and bad) who graced the program, but I would be remiss if I didn't note the wonderful performance in season of Margo Martindale as Mags Bennett. Add the recurring performances of the hilarious wanna be deputy Constable Bob (Patton Oswald) who actually delivers. I simply can't do justice to the many actors who showed up for only a few episodes, but the casting director needs to get a huge bonus. I can't recall even a single bad performance or show; even the best shows usually have dead periods, but not so in this one. I will very much miss them all.