Monday, March 15, 2010


This was sent to me by fellow writer, Carl Brush, who spotted it after reading my post on the upcoming TV series "Justified" based on the Elmore Leonard character.
The original article can be found on here:
Monday, March 15, 2010 (SF Chronicle)
'Justified' scores with hot star, smart scripts
Tim Goodman

Justified: Drama. 10 p.m. Tuesdays on FX.

Timothy Olyphant's acting in "Justified" is so great that it strips away the notion that maybe he's so damn likable because of his all-too-short stint on HBO's classic Western series "Deadwood." As Seth Bullock, the sheriff in Deadwood, Olyphant's steely gaze, Zen interior and matinee looks called to mind a younger Clint Eastwood. That "Deadwood" was one of television's best series at the time - then ended abruptly at the end of three seasons - made a lot of people hungry to see him in something like that again.

In the second season of FX's "Damages," he was also a gun-toting killer, but more of the unstable variety. But now he's back as the lead in the cable channel's latest drama, "Justified," as Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, born in eastern Kentucky and working in Miami wearing a Stetson
and cowboy boots.

Givens is based on the character created by Elmore Leonard, who serves as executive producer on "Justified." All you need is one look at Olyphant dressed for the role to know creator Graham Yost ("The Pacific," "Boomtown," "Band of Brothers") got the ideal actor. And it didn't take FX long to start an ad campaign that makes Olyphant look downright iconic. The best news of all is that Olyphant backs it up with an incredibly riveting performance. Better yet, "Justified" as a whole really delivers, from the explosive pilot to a couple of other, less adrenaline-filled but no less superb episodes that add humor and nuanced storytelling to the mix.

Getting the genius of Leonard just right has been a difficult thing for the big and small screen. (Italics mine--he's saying the same thing I did.) But in "Justified," the elements are in place for an exceptional television series. Raylan Givens left Kentucky to be a marshal at age 19. He's deadly accurate with a gun but, later in his career, became a bit too enamored with the old-school marshal mantra of "You've got 24 hours to leave town or the next time I see you, I shoot you on sight." He puts that into effect in Miami and, as a disciplinary measure, gets sent to - you guessed it - Kentucky.

Back home, he's got all kinds of ghosts to deal with. But his boss, Chief Deputy Art Mullen (Nick Searcy), is an old friend from the marshals. In Lexington, he teams up with Deputy Marshal Tim Gutterson (Jacob Pitts), a sniper in the Rangers while stationed in Afghanistan, and Rachel Brooks(Erica Tazel), who is small, fierce and no-nonsense.

As the episodes unroll, we start to learn slightly more about the latter two. No doubt Yost will let "Justified" breathe a little bit - and the Givens character really fills up a scene - and flesh out those characters even more. Almost immediately, Searcy gives gravitas to Mullen, who is happy but leery that Givens has fallen in his lap.

Those who have seen a trailer for this series have had their pulse jump at the thought of Olyphant squaring off with "Shield" alum Walton Goggins, who plays Givens' childhood friend from Kentucky, Boyd Crowder. The U.S. attorney wants Crowder for bank robbery charges (among the many other things he's done), and it's clear he and Givens are on an inescapable path that should meet like two trains on the same track.

But for all the firepower in the pilot - Crowder has a rocket launcher that he's not afraid to use - "Justified" settles down to tell other, slightly less incendiary stories that weave in the familiar Leonard-style humor. Although it may be hard to top what amounts to an instant-classic line Givens delivers to Crowder - "You make me pull, I'll put you down" - "Justified" does just fine with humor. "Outlaw life's hard, ain't it?" Givens says, after smashing the butt of a rifle into a neo-Nazi.

In the fourth episode, guest star Alan Ruck is wonderful as a fugitive wanted by the marshals and also by a drug cartel, who gets into a jam at the Mexican border. "Looks like we've got a sniper on the Mexican side," Givens yells out as Ruck's character is pinned down. The response: "Well, that's not going to help tourism."

But the overriding thought watching "Justified" is that FX has just created an intriguing American hero. Olyphant's iconic look and portrayal of Raylan Givens recalls every badass good guy in Western lore, and you find yourself liking him more every time he pulls the trigger. That alone would be enough to make "Justified" appointment television, but it's clear there's a lot more depth yet to be mined as Yost and his writers (who had bracelets made that say WWED - "What would Elmore do?") reinvent the modern-day lawman.

E-mail Tim Goodman at You can read his TV blog,
the Bastard Machine, at Follow him at ----------------------------------------------------------------------
Copyright 2010 SF Chronicle

Thanks, Carl, for sending me this! It's funny--the instant I saw the very first frame of the promo, I knew this was an Elmore Leonard story. This is the first time I've seen anyone in film or TV "get" Leonard, and it was evident from the very first frame.

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