I was recently scouting around online trying to find out when Season 3 of Justified was starting on TV here in the UK. To my utter dismay I found that the previous owner 5 US hasn’t picked the 3rd season up and neither has anyone else. Now before you all dig out your Stetsons, load your Colt 45s and march on 5′s headquarters I better mention that they have said that they may pick it up.
It would be completely unjustified (heh) if season 3 didn’t make it on to the tube in the UK. Before watching the pilot I can remember not holding out much hope for the show. I tend to naturally gravitate to shows which are a bit more fantastical, sci-fi and supernatural dramas tend to be among my favourites. So a show about a rootin-tootin US Marshal set in the Deep South didn’t have me waiting with baited breath. Couple that with Timothy Olyphant playing the main character and I nearly gave it a miss. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve nothing against him as an actor, I just couldn’t help seeing a mental image of an oily elephant every time I heard his name.
Anyway, what a fool I was. From the first scene of the first episode this show grabbed me by the unmentionables and refused to let go. Raylan Givens (Olyphant) is one of the best leads I’ve seen in years, in fact the only current character I can think of who’s on a par with Raylan is everyone’s favourite serial killer, Dexter Morgan.
Givens is a throwback to the kind of hero Clint Eastwood used to play; he’s an old fashioned quick-draw gun-slinger with ice in his veins. He’s the type of guy that Johnny Cash might have described as having gravel in his guts and spit in his eye. And Olyphant plays him perfectly. With his gun still holstered he delivers lines like “You think you can load that before I put a hole in you”, with such a relaxed, easy cockiness that villains just wilt under his gaze.
While Givens is tremendous, two of the fantastic supporting cast stand head and shoulders above the rest: Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) and Mags Bennett (Margo Martindale). Goggins deserves immense credit for bringing his charismatic villain to life in all his well-spoken wild-eyed glory. In fact Crowder was only supposed to be a short lived part, but the character worked so well he’s become an integral part of the show. Talking about immense credit brings us nicely on to Martindale, who won the 2011 Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Emmy for her portrayal of Big Mags Bennett; a heinous villain made all the more terrifying by the incredible ease with which she could slip from being a kindly, jolly mother figure to a black hearted treacherous killer.
Now, I think we might have established that the show has some good performers, but that’s not to take away from the writing. The stories are intense, dramatic and believable, while the dialogue is filled with acerbic dry wit and compelling little verbal jousts. The action scenes work really well too; they’re sharp, tense, believable and well-paced.
Hmm… maybe I was a little hasty in calling for calm, maybe we should give Channel 5 a little incentive to get Justified ordered quick sharp. We march on their headquarters at dawn.
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