TV review: "Justified" deserves spot among TV's best
Now that “Justified” has ended, with a wholly appropriate and mostly stellar finale — that may have lacked the shootouts some fans were looking for — it’s safe to say this was an excellent television series. There were extraordinary highs (Seasons 2, 3 and 6) and some lows (Season 5), but most importantly the show stayed consistently entertaining throughout.
Based on the writings of Elmore Leonard, “Justified” took the wonderful characters and whip-smart dialog the legendary author was known for and brought them to life on screen. “Justified” is possibly the best adaptation of Leonard’s work, with only Steven Soderbergh’s “Out of Sight” and Quentin Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown” also in the conversation.
Where the television series was at its finest was the ability to craft a compelling crime drama that also had incredibly hilarious moments (Dewey Crowe has four kidneys?) with a cast of characters that was always engaging, whether they were fierce (Mags Bennett, Avery Markum, Robert Quarles), badass (Raylan, Boyd, Art) or comedic relief (Dewey, Wynn Duffy). And at any point, any “Justified” character could be all three.
It’s hard to pin down a legacy for “Justified,” as it was never as popular as other “golden era” drama series like “Breaking Bad” or “The Sopranos.” Nor was it ever cited alongside those two series — and others like, “The Wire,” “Mad Men” or “Deadwood” — as groundbreaking works, and will probably never be recognized as one of the all-time greats. That’s a shame.
“Justified” was a remarkable show in many ways. The writing (led by showrunner Graham Yost) was always impeccable, and the cast — especially Walton Goggins as Boyd and Timothy Olyphant as Raylan, along with supporting actors like Margo Martindale, Raymond J. Barry (as Raylan’s wily father Arlo) and Jere Burns as the incomparable Wynn Duffy — made the strong dialog sing.
It’s disappointing that we’re out of adventures in Harlan County, but I can revisit almost any old episode and it will still be as entertaining (or occasionally harrowing and/or comical) as the first time I watched it.
Photo courtesy of FX
Season 6 rating: 4 stars
Series rating: 3.5 stars