on June 19, 2013
While the Raylan Givens character makes the Justified world go round, I have to comment on Boyd Crowder. This has been a brilliantly played role from the beginning. As the childhood friend and shadow to Givens, Crowder absolutely holds his own and then some. The second son of a local criminal Boss, he is riveting. The episodes in which the born-again Crowder loses his faith were some of the best TV ever. Crowder has courage and, yes, decency, that plays off Givens role brilliantly. Now, firmly ensconced as the local criminal boss, when Crowder tells the rich criminal elite in his neighborhood that their lives might make them criminals, it doesn't make them outlaws--Crowder is the Outlaw--he takes his place alongside Clyde Barrow, Bonnie Parker, and the Sundance Kid as one of the best, most fascinating, most well written outlaw characters in movie/TV history.
Over the last several years, FX has been the preeminent basic cable station for original programming. Shows like NIP/TUCK, THE SHIELD, RESCUE ME, LOUIE, TERRIERS and newer shows like THE AMERICANS have been showcasing some of the best that television has to offer as far as more mature storytelling and shows that don't treat you like you're not an intelligent carbon-based life form (of course, there is the occasional ANGER MANAGEMENT, but no channel is perfect). Then there's JUSTIFIED, resting at the top of the heap, swaggering confidently like U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (the brilliant Timothy Olyphant), taking no crap from anyone or anything and defying other shows to knock it down. And with the show completing its fourth season, it still proves that it's the show to beat.
The fourth season begins with Givens, knowing that he and his ex-wife Winona (Natalie Zea) have a baby on the way, is looking to supplement his income by doing what he does best: catching fugitives. Unfortunately, this is very much frowned upon by the Marshal Service, particularly Raylan's superior Art (the always amazing Nick Searcy). Meanwhile, the eternally-scheming Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) and his lady-love Ava (Joelle Carter) are looking to get in deeper with the Dixie Mafia, represented in Harlan County by uber-weasel Wynn Duffy (Jere Burns), but their working girl Ellen May (Abby Miller) has fallen in with a good crowd, led by traveling revivalist Billy St. Cyr (Joseph Mazzello) and his more pragmatic sister Cassie (Lindsay Pulsipher), leading them to believe that Ellen May might start confessing some of her sins that could incriminate Ava. Thusly, Boyd brings in fellow Iraq War vet Colt Rhodes (Ron Eldard), who makes quite a few mistakes of his own as he acts as enforcer for Boyd's mini-mob. But some of these events are window dressing (or are they?) for the real mystery of the season. Many years before, a man named Drew Thompson stole a whole bunch of cocaine from Theo Tonin, the mystery mob boss in Detroit, that paved the way for organized crime to surface in Harlan. A frantic search that involves just about every character in the show begins for just who Drew Thompson really is. If Raylan can answer that question first, his career will be on the fast track; if Boyd can answer that question first, the Tonin family will be indebted to him, solidifying him as the local crime lord. On the side of law and order (or maybe just law), there's Raylan and his fellow marshals Rachel (Erica Tazel) and Tim (Jacob Pitts), and some assistance from the slightly-crooked sheriff Shelby Parlow (Jim Beaver), as well as the rotund wannabe lawman Constable Bob (Patton Oswalt). On the side of crime, there's Boyd, Ava, Colt, Wynn, the duplicitous Cousin Johnny (David Meunier), Raylan's imprisoned father Arlo (Raymond J. Barry), the Tonin family's enforcer Nicky Augustine (Mike O'Malley), and returning as a wild card here is Elstin Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson). Rest assured that when it all comes down to the wire and once the identity of Drew Thompson is revealed, all of these players are on the table, and only a few will walk away from the conflict.
Showrunner Graham Yost and this world's creator, the great crime novelist Elmore Leonard, have expanded the universe for these characters to exist in during the course of this season, and have continued to craft astounding entertainment episode after episode. The drama, the intensity, the comedy, the characters, the interaction... all of these things coalesce in a way in this season than they have before. The whole show rests solidly on the shoulders of Olyphant, and those shoulders are broad. His performance never ever hits a false note, and Raylan Givens is a wholly unique character in the annals of crime television. He's actually not a very good person at all (evidenced several times throughout this season with Winona, with Art, with his co-workers, with really just about everyone on the show). He has no inclination toward nor concern for the bureaucracy of the service he's in; he's rude, arrogant, impulsive, and just really kind of a jerk. Strangely, it's all these things that make him so incredibly good at his job and such a rich character. Don't get me wrong; Raylan is incredibly likable, but when you pull back some of that cowboy veneer, he really just ends up doing whatever the hell he wants most of the time, which is something that does actually catch up with him in this season. The cast of the show is also pitch-perfect as Goggins and Carter are the Lord and Lady MacBeth of this program, with endless machinations that have them reaching higher than ever before, but that only gives them the opportunity to fall farther than ever before. Searcy is pure gold as Art continues as one of the great supporting characters currently on television. Tazel is perfect as the eternally put-upon Rachel, and Pitts puts in his best work on this show this season as he has his own personal arc that pits him directly against Colt. Speaking of Colt, Eldard is certainly one of the standouts of this season as he plays Colt with a deadly intelligence mixed with a junkie's desperation. Another standout is Jim Beaver as Shelby. He was one of the standouts on HBO's DEADWOOD (where he also worked alongside Olyphant), and this season proves that his performance there was no fluke. But the golden guest star award of this year of television is Patton Oswalt as Constable Bob. Not only is Oswalt one of the best and smartest comedians around today, he's also proving to be quite the excellent actor. He brings heart, levity, and a surprising amount of courage to this role, and will hopefully be recognized in some way for it.
Not only are all the performances great, but the writing and directing for each episode is better than ever. The momentum of this season never lets up for a moment, even when there's a bit of a one-off which showcases Raylan getting revenge for a friend's murder, because while there are things going on in the periphery, they all end up tying together, and that sort of intensity is a very difficult thing to maintain over a thirteen-episode season. However, the staff of this show pull it off and bring the season to a fever pitch exactly as it needed to in some of the most exciting climaxes of a season of TV in recent memory.
Let's face it; JUSTIFIED, which has been thankfully renewed for a fifth season, is likely pound-for-pound the best-written, best-acted, most interesting and most entertaining shows on basic cable right now, and this fourth season was the best this show has offered yet.
on July 18, 2013
Timothy Olyphant has had a slow starting career, but it is absolutely incredible how he has grown, and just looks so comfortable in this role as Raylan Givens. He appears to just personify every aspect of the character effortlessly. The women on the show are fantastic actresses and so incredibly beautiful. But Walter Boggins as Boyd Crowder is Emmy worthy, each season. His Boyd is equal to Olyphant's Givens, and that is just a blessing for fans of professional acting and character depth! DO NOT MISS THIS PROGRAM! Thank you FX, and thank you to all involved in making this show so enjoyable! Nick is also to be mentioned for his Chief Deputy role. He is just brilliant. You don't see better acting on television than JUSTIFIED. OUTSTANDING! Tim is now perhaps the actor I am most dying to see more of on screen. He is very funny (often in a subdued fashion), smart, and Tim can deliver a line with such believable emotion and physical presence, you can't help but love him and recognize he is an all-around actor, a guys' guy, a ladies' man, and I am honestly just impressed with his humility in real life. He has not been given much by the business, but he has become one of the best around, and is still very much unnoticed (or so it seems) by Hollywood directors. I want to see M.S. direct this man, and officially put Tim on the map for everyone to witness. OLYPHANT IS GOING PLACES! THANK YOU TIM!!!
on June 30, 2013
Everything about this series is superb: the casting, storyline, cinematography, direction, acting, character development, settings. This series is not your typical, bland, predictable Hollywood mush; this is like a book you cannot put down or ever forget. Deep character development emerges gradually. Plot turns are surprising yet believable, not triggered by hokey, magical devices. I particularly like this show for its' intelligent, ironic, dry sense of humor. Action scenes are realistic and thrilling - not bombastic, over-the-top, virtual-reality fantasies. The cast speaks snappy, witty lines in a charming Appalachian dialect. In his role as the main character, Timothy Olyphant, a Federal Marshall, upstages Bruce Willis and Jason Statham as a soft-spoken icon of fearless masculine strength. His well-honed acting quietly conveys a complex, intense character whose career choice as a lawman unconsciously seeks to reconcile the sins of his psychopathic, predatory father. He's a ladies man who is emotionally immature, and avoids marital commitment and the normal family trappings of fatherhood. In his mind, and then convincingly in ours as well, his often unconventional actions to bring down career criminals are always "justified".
on May 29, 2013
I am a late comer to Justified. I never even heard of it until about two weeks ago. I joined Amazon Prime and had finished all 7 seasons of "The Closer," and was looking for something else to watch. I almost didn't pick Justified, because I normally don't like excess violence, and I just didn't think this one was my cup of tea. Boy, was I wrong. I watched the first three seasons "free," on Amazon Prime. Then, of course, I had to buy Season 4, and then I watched the entire 4 seasons over again. I am surprised I like this show so much. I think my favorite part is the language; the oh so formal phrases, which of course, is purely Appalachian.As Nicki Augustine says to Boyd, "Why do you use so many words when four would be enough?" That is so much of the charm of this series. Then there is Raylan "an emotional disaster," who keeps to himself, and yet Timothy is ever so able to portray the hurt that Raylan feels--often with the little tick in his chin. With all his toughness, he is vulnerable. I also find the relationship of Boyd and Raylan fascinating; so much alike with one taking the path of crime, and the other the path of a lawman. I can't wait for season 5; I only wish this series had more episodes. I was sorry to have finished it for the 2nd time. This is the only show I have ever watched FX series I have ever watched; I also had never read any Elmore Leonard, but have now just received "Raylan," to read.