Justified is One of the Best TV Crime Shows of All Time

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.


Crossposted from Klavan on the Culture