There are many great shows that have transcended or elevated the television artform, that have been compared favorably to cinema or to great novels. Some of them I’ve seen, some I’ll catch up with some day. But Justified was my kind of show. It was full of badass bravado, dry humor, a love of language and personality. Like the Elmore Leonard books that inspired it it was accessible and unpretentious, but also smart and original. I like to think it could be enjoyed by snooty book lovers as much as by people who liked Walker, Texas Ranger.
I came to it as an enjoyer of Leonard. I remember hearing there was gonna be another show based on one of his characters, starring Timothy Olyphant, and I was curious to check it out in case it might be decent. Then I happened to see an extended preview, a clip of the scene from the pilot where Raylan meets Dewey Crowe and bangs his head against a steering wheel. And I thought oh shit, this actually looks seriously good. I’m gonna have to make an effort to actually watch a TV show from the beginning. And come to think of it I watched the entire series as it aired each week, that’s pretty rare for me.
Leonard has not had a good track record on television. I don’t mean in quality of adaptation, but in survival. There was that show of Maximum Bob with Beau Bridges. It got good reviews and was cancelled before I ever caught an episode. Years later there was Karen Sisco. I thought, now how do you make a TV version of a character that was so perfectly portrayed by Jennifer Lopez in the best Elmore Leonard adaptation ever? And then Carla Gugino came and changed my idea of who that character is. And that one I did manage to watch most of the episodes but again, cancelled before the season even finished. And neither show has ever been released on the home video.
So it’s surprising and great that not only was Justified so good, but it had the chance to last for six seasons, continue to grow in popularity, and go out on a high note. And on purpose – I’m sure FX would’ve let them make two or three or four more seasons if they’d wanted to. (read the rest of this shit…)
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.