Ok…I know I am a movie reviewer–but stay with me here… because the latest series on TV may offer this review as…JUSTIFIED. Justified is the latest series from the FX Network. If you are a fan of the many hits they have had in the past–great series like The Shield and Sons of Anarchy–then you are already likely tuning in to this new series. If you have missed these great shows…first–go rent them on DVD, and second–tune in to the latest action/western hybrid: Justified.
Justified stars Timothy Olyphant as U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens. Marshall Givens is a character inspired from a couple of Elmore Leonard novels and short stories. Givens is an old western motif trapped in a modern day marshall’s body. Banished to his old stomping grounds for bad behavior, including shooting criminals on site, Givens runs across some new crimes in his old haunts–and some of the ghosts of the past are still hanging around as well. Olyphant has a great history of action films and westerns–including the most recent The Crazies, Live Free or Die Hard, Hitman, and another western series: the great but short lived Deadwood on HBO. Equally great is Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder, a pseudo “white power” criminal from the south–out to create chaos and make money. Goggins had a great run in the previously mentioned The Shield as Shane Vendrell and looks to bring some of the same smarmy, slimy evil to this series.
The series opener that aired this past week was called “Fire in the Hole” and was specifically lifted from a novella by Leonard by the same name. In it, we see the angry Marshall Givens struggling with his lawman psyche–and seeking to find his own place in the world. It is apparent already that Givens has a clear code he lives by, and we get some hints of his past, including a criminal father and some military experience as well. Goggins also works well as the villain Crowder. Embracing the Aryan movement just to feed his own destructive habits, we see a complexity to his evil that his far more conniving than most of the typical stereotype southern boy criminals.
And that, likely, is really what makes this show great–and so many others that FX have created. It is the willingness to create an over-arching long range story, well developed characters created by great actors, and high production values. This series, then offers a “movie” level experience each week on television. I still say that The Shield is the longest film I ever watched–clocking in at well over 100 hours in six seasons. As a new modern western, including some shootouts, hilarious one-liners, and tense action, this series finds its place among the great work previously by FX. Here’s hoping that Justified has a long life.
Justified airs Tuesday nights at 10pm, 9 central–and reruns through the week on the FX network.