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In my March 21 blog, I lionized the premiere of an Elmore Leonard generated TV series called Justified. Two or three episodes have gone under the bridge now, and I thought it was worth taking a second look. My writing buddy and mentor, Les Edgerton, who first put me on to the series, announced himself as “not sold” after viewing the pilot. He said Timothy Oliphant was “soft around the edges,” smiled too often.

I think the show has sustained the validity of my positive comments about the show’s ambience, its dialogue, the accents of the actors. And I can’t say I fully buy with Les’s criticisms of Oliphant. I mentioned the opening gunslinging scene. There have been others, such as the fast draw encounter in the last episode. Oliphant’s wry, self-knowing grin works well in these situations to convey the sense of a tough guy with a sense of humor and an appreciation for human frailty even while performing a “justified” killing. And it’s okay with me that he puddled up a bit after he had to shoot one of the friends of his youth. But there is something to what Les says, and it’s in the writing as much as in the acting.

Marshall Raylan Givens has a woman problem. He comes within an ace of sleeping with an old flame who is also a material witness. He also has jumped bones with another woman (no conflict of interest with her) he had vowed to leave alone because his ultimate goal is to get out of KY and he wants to create no encumbrances. Common problem, right? So where’s the flaw? This TV Raylan Givens is not pursuing his manly desires, but giving in to his lusts despite his vows to the contrary. Weak. Out of control. Not an Elmore Leonard hero.  Or so it seems to me.

There’s still plenty in Justified to recommend it, and I’ll continue to DVR the series and plunk myself down for it from time to time. But,  there is, I must agree with Les to a certain extent,  that softness around the edges…

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