I’m Justified in Watching This Show
On television, I look for great writing first and foremost. That gets me long before a super-star actor or exotic locale.
I currently am madly in love with “Justified” on the FX channel (although I admit I watch it on Netflix and thus am a full season behind). The scripts, by Graham Yost, novelist Elmore Leonard, V.J. Boyd and others, are whip-smart, hilarious, shocking and subtle. The dialog is pitch perfect.
The series is based on a short story, “Fire In The Hole,” by Leonard and features hero U.S. Marshal Rayland Givens, who has returned to his roots in rural Kentucky and who has a tendency to shoot folks in the midst of his investigations. The cast includes the chameleon-like Timothy Olyphant (“Deadwood,” “Damages”) and Nick Searcy (the brilliant character actor whom you’ve seen in a thousand things, including the under-rated cult favorite “Seven Days,” 1998-2001).
The superb is dialog, delivered in deadpan and as dry as a played out coal mine Kentucky dialect. Examples:
Nick Searcy’s Chief Art Mullen, to Rayland: “I tell you to do one simple thing – refrain from screwin’ the witness in your own shooting (investigation) – and you can’t even do that!”
Rayland, when questioned by Internal Affairs about missing money. “Just ’cause I shoot the occasional person doesn’t make me a thief.”
That’s David-Mamet-level dialog. Wonderful.
Audience participation: What are your nominees for the best dialog in a television series (time is not a factor; go as far back into the television archives as you’d like).