Thursday, March 18, 2010

Justiflat - The Premiere Episode of Justified Is Dead as the Man in Miami

*This post might contain spoilers.

I'm only about half way through the three-season run of DEADWOOD (on borrowed DVDs), but that's been more than enough to hook me. So, naturally, when I saw the first preview for JUSTIFIED, FX's new drama about a quick (and often) shooting U.S. Marshal starring Timothy Olyphant of Deadwood fame, I was more than psyched. Unfortunately, after Tuesday night's series premiere episode, the show quickly fell into the, "I'll give it another few episodes before quitting" category of new shows. 

The episode opened with Olyphant's Raylan Givens sitting across from a suspect at a table beside the pool at a trendy Miami hotel. After some quite, intimidating, tough-guy dialogue that involved a lot of daring one another to shoot, Raylan blasts the man away. Raylan chews the fat with the other marshals outside the hotel later, not in the least bit disturbed by the life he just took. And there began the pattern that repeated for the next hour plus of the first episode.

Raylan gets transferred to his backwoods Kentucky hometown in an attempt to let the dust from the Miami shooting settle, and to catch a childhood acquaintance of his who has been getting the government's attention. In case you miss it the first time Raylan says it, you'll get to hear another 18 times that he and his new target used to mine coal together. In fact, there's more repetition in the first episode than I have ever seen in any show ever. Or any season for that matter. Whether it's "we mined coal together" or "you shot a man in Miami" or some variation of either statement, the writers seem to have run out of unique things to say after each commercial break. Like a comic book that only comes out every other month, so the writers have to remind us what's happened through catch-up dialogue, Justified was so repetitive that I was plain bored. The hour and 11 minute premiere (commercials included) could have been boiled down to a half an hour if all the repeat lines - sometimes seemingly verbatim - were removed. We get it! Raylan shot a man in Miami. Next?

More than repetitive, though, Justified lacked logic. If it didn't, I was either not paying attention or too picky a viewer. I don't believe that a single rocket from a bazooka would blow up an entire building, causing simultaneous fire balls to erupt from the first and second story windows. Maybe I'm wrong there. I could also be wrong that a woman who blasted her husband would be free to continue going about her business. Raylan's love interest, an abused woman played by the beautiful Joelle Carter, aims a shotgun at her husband while he's eating dinner and pulls the trigger. Somehow, though, despite the fact that she did this and that all the cops know she did it, we're first introduced to her as she's going about her daily business, nothing unusual to her. It's only at the tail end of the episode that we see her at the court house (did the writers remember she might, possibly, potentially have to answer for killing an unarmed - albeit abusive - man?). (At one point during the previews for the upcoming episodes, I wondered aloud if all the women cast for the show were sisters. Carter is a tall, gorgeous blond woman. Raylan's ex is a tall, gorgeous blond woman. And a third character we haven't been introduced to yet who Raylan seems to hook up with is - you guessed it - a tall, gorgeous blond woman. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for tall, gorgeous blond women, but it made me wonder - was this a theme, or are the producers just trying to increase the babe factor in light of a weak story?)

The police work seemed as shoddy as the writing. Raylan and his other marshals spent a lot of their time swaggering around, taking shots, speaking in drawls, and talking about the guilty criminals they knew exactly where to find. If they actually did happen to seek out those perps, though, they used guns instead of actual police work to end the day. Not bad for TV, unless, like Raylan, you decide to answer your cell phone in the middle of a shoot out. And I thought answering in the movie theater was bad. 

Justified is no Deadwood. That's more than clear. I shouldn't have expected as much, but I did think it'd be more than just an updated WALKER, TEXAS RANGER. Hopefully, the coming episodes won't be as flat and one-lied as the first, or I'll be Givens this one up.

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