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by
Andrew Klavan

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April 16, 2014 - 11:00 am
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I’ve entered one of those periods when I’m so busy, I can only watch one TV show at a time. Pitiful, I know. Fortunately, for the last thirteen weeks, there’s been no difficulty deciding which show it would be. Graham Yost’s Justified remains one of the best crime shows ever, even in this era of unbelievably great crime shows like The Wire and The Shield.

I think the last two seasons have been the two best. As always, it’s the characters, dialogue and tough Elmore Leonardian attitudes that make the thing pop the way it does. But I do like a good story, and the plotting has grown better over the seasons and in these last two seasons, the stories were really superlative.

The actors are all great. Timothy Olyphant, Nick Searcy, Walton Goggins, Joelle Carter, the whole cast. The fact that none of them has won an Emmy for this show is a miscarriage of Emmy justice but (watch the funny Conan interview with Olyphant above) they seem to be surviving. Olyphant, I think, gets underrated because he’s a good-looking hero type who’s paid his dues in some second rate films, but you can tell he constructs his performances from the ground up. He even moves differently in different roles. I still haven’t forgotten Goggins’ performance in the last season of The Shield — the best acting I ever saw on a TV screen — and he continues excellent here. And this season, Joelle Carter finally got a really interesting storyline all to herself and pulled off a major character shift so subtle that the final jolt seemed unexpected and completely natural at the same time.

And, of course, this site can’t let the season pass without singing the praises of the mighty Nick Searcy, who expertly portrays the moral center of the show, Chief Deputy U.S. Marshall Art Mullen. Searcy should win some kind of award just for the fact that Mullen — the show’s one unabashedly decent and lovable character — was heard listening to Rush Limbaugh during a stake out! That’s no surprise to those of us who follow @yesnicksearcy on Twitter, the guy no loud mouthed lefty wants to meet in a dark Twitter alley (see his brilliant musical performance below.).

I understand next year will be Justified’s final season and I’ll miss it. But that’s all right. I think shows should end while they’re still terrific. This one is still as terrific as it can be. A crime show joy to behold.

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Crossposted from Klavan on the Culture

Andrew Klavan’s newest novel is Nightmare City.

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All Comments   (6)
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No banality of evil on Justified. The villains are all bigger than life, but also unambiguously bad. Jeremy Davies is great as Dickie Bennett. Jere Burns as Wynn Duffy. Michael Rappaport as Darryl Crowe. Dewey Crowe is a great character. Hope they hang on for another year.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Personally while good I found this season a little weaker than the others. Still the best show on TV.

Sometimes watching Olyphant is spooky one time you think you are watching a young Clint Eastwood and then he walks away with the John Wayne gate.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh, good! Better bread! Livelier circuses!

31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
It’s had a few Emmy nominations for acting and a couple of wins in supporting and guest roles…which, considering the caliber of acting talent on the TV screen the past few years, is nothing to sneeze at (woe to the actors who have had to stand before the mighty Cranston during his reign).

I love this show. Although I’d respectfully disagree with the wise Master Klavan - it was seasons 2 and 4 that were the best. Season 2 for the magnificent acting; season 4 for the truly labyrinthine, yet fascinating, plot.

It’s nice to have a show where the hero is a hero, not an anti-hero. He’s a little rough around the edges, kind of douchebag, and doesn’t always make the right choices, but he’s still comfortably in hero territory. It’s a conservative-ish show, but not overt and bludgeoning…which is what we conservatives should want in art. Our complaints about liberalism in television and movies isn’t so much that it is there, but rather than we are bludgeoned with it. We shouldn’t lower our art to their standards.

Mr. Klavan, thanks for this post. It’s a great show that doesn’t get noticed by the “taste makers” (e.g., Girls, Mad Men, Scandal)…so it’s nice to hear proper praise…and from a real crime writer, no less.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
I agree, wholeheartedly, Andrew. A joy to watch, a true entertainment.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm not sure if you know this, Andrew, but Graham Yost, the creator of Justified, is Canadian. I'm quite proud to have another one of our people make another major contribution to entertainment. Not that he's the first, of course. (That would be Mary Pickford, who was born Gladys Smith in Toronto.)
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
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