My Opinion, is it Justified?

I have just finished watching Season 1 of FX’s modern day western series “Justified”. I know what you must be thinking, “Ann needs another TV show to watch like a hole in the head.” I blame my husband.

He decided to take advantage of Netflix’s free streaming one month trial offer. I admit my initial thoughts were “You have got to be kidding???” We subscribe to a pretty ridiculously priced premium cable package that allows for commercial-free on demand viewing (TV and Movies) on our TV’s, computers and portable devices. Why did we need another service? Of course the answer is – because it is free – for a month – but they want your credit card number – so you have to remember to cancel. What choice did I have? I had to check it out, LOL!

Netflix’s movie selection left me underwhelmed, certainly compared to what I already had access to. There was not much in the way of current releases. I did watch a few movies that never made it to my cable service. While I browsed Netflix’s TV titles, I landed upon Justified.

Justified has currently completed airing its 2nd season and I had heard some pretty good buzz about it. There were compelling reasons for me to see for myself. Was I was missing out on something special? The pedigree was solid. Based on an Elmore Leonard short story, it was developed for the small screen by Graham Yost. Six degrees of loyalty forced me to recognize a considerable debt of gratitude to Yost’s late father Elwy (beloved host of TVO’s Saturday Night at the Movies). Elwy Yost introduced me to the wonders of classic cinema. So the price was right and I managed to watch Season 1 (13 episodes) in a few days.

Justified is set in Kentucky and tells the story of Rayland Givens (played so very well by Timothy Olyphant). Givens is a deputy U.S. Marshall who – against his wishes – is transferred from Miami back home to Kentucky. He is quick to use his gun in situations he feels is “Justified”. Others may disagree. He is forced to face his demons (past and present) as he works through each episode’s crime of the week. The story threads that become the season arc are a minor presence until the final episodes. However, watching the episodes in order makes for a better coherent viewing experience (I wish Netflix had labeled the episodes properly, thank goodness for the “previously on Justified” segment at the beginning, that helped clue me in that something was amiss). The acting is great, the scripts are good, not great. The tone is dark with only rare comedic elements. There is a lot of testosterone in this show and this is perhaps why I am not as immersed as I hoped to be. The main character is flawed – I usually do not have a problem with that (Hello, Film Noir Fan here). But, when Givens jeopardizes a case by cavorting with a person of interest, I couldn’t help rolling my eyes and gagging. I expect that when the stakes are so high, that enough exposition and character development has occurred, enough empathy has been built toward the lead character, that such a bone-headed move could be “forgiven” or at least “understood”. This is where it failed for me (In the same way that “the English Patient” failed me, despite it being a beautifully made film). The lady in question is a cliché – damsel in distress. SPOILER ALERT. When we first meet her she has been arrested for shooting her abusive husband in cold blood. She gets a slap on the wrist and throws herself at Givens. Sure she is pretty and has been crushing on Givens since she was 12 years old and no one deserves to be beaten by a spouse. However, her solution to her domestic problem seems a bit drastic and her involvement in another investigation that places Givens in jeapordy makes me just shake my head. I wish they had made her a more compelling character to justify his bone-headed decision to sleep with her. I guess every other woman in town must be an ugly moron. Sigh! Really, most of the female characters are poorly developed. His ex-wife, for whom he still carries a torch, is fleshed out a bit better than the other women on the show. Still, she is mostly another damsel in distress. She does call Givens out on his BS and I have to give her credit for that. However the notion that these women simply throw themselves at Givens, and that he simply can’t resist, leaves me a bit cold. I would like to see some more interaction with his colleague Rachel. She sees right through him and isn’t afraid to tell him so. She is a woman I can respect. That I continued watching is a testament to how good the acting is. To be fair, Olyphant is easy on the eyes as well. The other problem I have, when it comes to relating to the story, is all the guns. I know, I know, it is set in the southern U.S.A. However, It is just so foreign to my existence. It is still a bit shocking and sad to realize that such powerfully destructive tools are perhaps necessary in some cultures.

I enjoyed the show but prefer my dramas to have a bit more comedy tossed in or a few more clever plot twists. So I won’t be adding it to my DVD collection. I can certainly wait for the 2nd season to stream on Netflix. The buzz surrounding Season 2 indicates that the show gets even better. They introduce a matriarch baddie. This offers me hope of something beyond the damsels in distress that I have encountered so far. But I can wait. There is too much to watch already and too little time. As for Netflix, beyond 1 month, at $8/month, the debate is ongoing.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: 2011- 2012 TV Season Wrap Up – part 1 « What is Ann Watching?

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