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).

A promotional still from FX Channel's series "Justified," which is in its third season.

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).

About danahaynes

Dana Haynes is the author of ICE COLD KILL (2013), BREAKING POINT (2011) and CRASHERS (2010) from Minotaur and St. Martin's Press.

Posted on January 26, 2012, in Blog and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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