“Justified” offers a glimpse into what a modern-day western should look like in a way “Walking Tall” never even came close to accomplishing.


Tuesdays at 10 p.m.

After a controversial shooting, Miami-based Deputy U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant, “Damages”) is transferred to his hometown in eastern Kentucky, where he’s faced not only with anti-Semitic terrorist cells run by his old coal-mining buddy, but also — gasp! — his past.

All joking aside, the return home of a long-gone son of a small southern town is a perfect set-up for unpacking a shit-load of fantastic storylines, character histories and so on. Not only that, but perhaps the best feature by far of “Justified” is the twangy, rough but beautiful setting. With the “Jesus Saves” sign on a country barn, the shady church next to the liquor store and the overgrown trees (which get blown up by an anti-Semitic, mullet-rocking gator poacher), those in charge of location and filming deserve a major pat on the back.

Gray area just melts away in the western set-up of each standoff between Raylan and his nemesis. Twice in one episode he sits at a table with a gun and has a quick draw confrontation. Yet standoffs such as this, which overtly mirror a hypothetical scene out of “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” are surprisingly likable to the point where it’s impossible to imagine the writers scripting it any other way. It’s even possible that a continued, even repetitious, use of standard western gun-fight scenes in episodes to come (a seemingly likely choice on the writer’s part), will manage to go by without becoming stale or obnoxious.

The character of Raylan himself is at times a bit exasperating, especially because the dialogue (though suitably so) tends toward well worn one-liners about getting “out of town before time is up.” He may in fact be the worst-developed, least-fascinating character in the pilot episode, with daddy issues so blatant they didn’t even need to be mentioned (two or three times).

Yet Olyphant is suitable for the role as his somewhat slimy yet gentlemanly way became more bearable, and then finally likable, as the episode progressed. Especially after seeing his character deal with the episode’s damsel in distress, who was, refreshingly, a sexy blonde cigarette-smoking housewife who shot her abusive husband over his dinner. It’s nice when the good guy doesn’t have a quick five-minute sex scene slipped in for the masses who insist on that sort of thing.

All in all, “Justified” is without question worth a watch. Put on some cowboy boots and a hat, grab some canned beans and a stick and prepare for something between moderate and great enjoyment to ensue.

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