Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Justified, "Fixer": Straight outta Lexington

A quick review of tonight's "Justified" coming up just as soon as I second-guess your neck hair...

FX actually sent "Fixer" out for review a few weeks after I'd watched the 1st, 2nd and 4th episodes, and there's always the worry that the odd episode out was held back because it wasn't very good. But I'm told the issues here were just post-production-related, and I found "Fixer" to be quite a bit stronger than last week's "Riverbrook."

As with the Elmore Leonard books (and the many crime authors influenced by Leonard), the style is going to be to split the action between Raylan and his quarry. I didn't think it worked last week because the bank robber and his motley gang weren't all that interesting. I liked this combo of inept, backstabbing thieves much more, particularly David Eigenberg as the titular fixer and Page Kennedy as one of those classic Leonard-style bad guys who becomes obsessed with living up to some pop cultural ideal of violence (in this case, dying because he's too distracted trying to prove himself as a quick draw artist).

The parallels between the Fixer and Raylan in their desires to get out of town, ASAP, weren't overdone, and the theme gave us some extended quality time with an off-duty Raylan flirting with, and eventually succumbing to the charms of, the lovely Ava. I like to joke that Timothy Olyphant plays every role like he can't wait to put a bullet through his co-stars, but he's doing very well in Raylan's more relaxed, charming and, yes, romantic moments.

One question: this is now two bodies that Raylan's dropped in three episodes (and he just barely avoided killing Body). Are you okay if the series maintains (or even accelerates) this body count rate? It's one thing for Raylan to get chewed out for his supervisors about this over the course of three books published many years apart, but as an ongoing part of a weekly series? I don't mind it (certainly, plenty of TV show heroes have racked up an even bigger/faster kill rate), but I wonder if anyone does.

What did everybody else think?

34 comments:

Dennis said...

I'm gonna stick with the show, but I am a little disappointed its not more serialized...A season-long conflict with an interesting villain would be much more entertaining.

Otto Man said...

Every week would be a problem, but then again, the show's title is a reference to killing in the line of duty.

AC said...

I like to joke that Timothy Olyphant plays every role like he can't wait to put a bullet through his co-stars, but he's doing very well in Raylan's more relaxed, charming and, yes, romantic moments.
As a female who fell in love with Olyphant via "Go" way back when- oh yeah, he's real good at those charming, romantic moments (always with an undercurrent of danger underneath).

Happy to see Eigenberg show up, but I didn't quite understand the role of a "fixer." Could you explain, briefly? I don't mind the body count increasing, but I don't want it to become Dead Body of the Week. If there was an episode or two without someone dying at the hands of GIvens, I wouldn't be too depressed! I can see they're going to stretch out the introduction of Pa Givens for as long as possible. The FX equivalent of sweeps, perhaps? Has the role been cast, to your knowledge?

itwasi said...

I'd be disappointed if the show continued having Raylan shoot someone to end each episode. It becomes a cheap repetitive device and that will rapidly lose impact. On the other hand maybe it will lead to a Raylan breakdown akin to McNorris' (Neal McDonough) Boomtown breakdown.

Carter said...

When I think "fixer", I think Winston Wolfe.

I really want Burt Reynolds as Raylan's pa.

GMan said...

Burn Notice has better serialization. Two weeks in a row with two "where's the money" storylines? This plays sorta like a weird 'Law and Order: Criminal Intent' spinoff.

Guess I'm used to the strongest FX 'Great Man' shows, where at their best they have a mix of strong plot mixed with character examination -Dennis Leary in 'Rescue Me' Season 1, the Drs. on 'Nip/Tuck' first couple seasons, Jax and Gemma on 'SOA'. This is veering very close to CBS drama territory.

HOWEVER, still like Olyphant, still like the setting and story possibilities. FX shows tend to find themselves mid-season. See where we are there.

Yellowdog said...

Still loving it, mostly because of Oliphant but I agree that they need to slow up on the killing. At this rate, Oliphant will end up killing 20 people this season, and even in Kentucky I'm thinking that has to be frowned upon.

Cameron Hughes said...

Alan,

I've gleaned that you're familliar with Leonard. Do you think the black guy was a loose adaptation of Bobby Deo, the part-time gardener and criminal from Riding The Rap?\

That was great. Very Leonard, very talky, matter of fact violence, understated humor (The argument about the price of gas). Greatly enjoyed that. The Fixer character fely exactly like someone from a Leonard novel. I can't stress enough how important not just the dialogue, but conversations, are in a Leonard adaptation.


Probably only Justin will understand this, but I really want Harry Arno to be on this show(And I'm fairly certain the black guy is a loose adaptation of a character from Riding The Rap that Arno sends on a very similar job to get money from a deadbeat) . He's a semi-important old bookie that always gave Raylan trouble in Pronto Riding The Rap, and at least one other encounter that Leonard mentions in Pronto, but isn't from a book.

Anonymous said...

I don't mind it. He was justified.

Jeff Flugel said...

As a die-hard fan of he-manly action films, I have absolutely no problem with Raylan shooting bad guys every week. The more the merrier, in fact. As long as the writing and characterizations remain strong and at least semi-realistic, and the show still brings the funny, then I'll be happy as a clam.

This is exactly the kind of show I feel has been missing from prime time TV for too long.

AnnaN said...

Well, having only seen the first two episodes (and really enjoying them) it seems that Raylan deliberately manufactures events and manipulates people into situations where he KNOWS his quarry will end up striking out at him.

Justified? Hardly. But I find this really interesting and am hoping it leads to some mighty fine television. Raylan's motivations and anger come from an overly simplistic source, but the exact WHY of his animosity toward his father has yet to be explained so that could be a whole chewy center of fun.

The only issue I can foresee with Justified's body count is if Raylan would stagnate in this mode. That's the reason I stopped watching the Sopranos after the third season; I really have no interest in watching a complicated individual pursue a Sisyphean life. The result for Tony was that he was never anything more than a sociopath. Boring.

Carolyn said...

I really like the tone of the show. I like how it feels very "slow n country" and yet there is a lot of action/resolution just sort of happening without one necessarily being taken aback by it.

jeffrey said...

hopefully the bodies won't continue to stack up too quickly. i think it becomes a crutch for a lack of creative storytelling.

reminds me of why i stopped watching e.r. long before it went off the air. early seasons were great with story and character but ultimately succumbed to soap-ish drama and an all new 'must see' catastrophe each week.

i don't want raylan to jump that shark.

i agree with dennis - for this series to keep my interest i want long-term arcs with villains, not something new and disposable each week.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Dennis. A season long conflict with an interesting villain would be a nice touch. It wouldn't even have to dominate the story line for me. They could still show Raylon working other cases each week and sprinkle in dealings with the villain. Then maybe the last 2 episodes of the season resolve that conflict as it becomes the primary focus. I thought Walton Goggins was going to play that role when the show started. He's too good to not become a bigger role in the show somehow.

AuntiePam said...

I like it for the talky-ness, especially since the talk is low-key and conversational and since I never know what someone is going to say next.

I hope there's not a shooting every week -- it'd be too unrealistic. My only complaint is about Eva and Raylan's pool game -- I liked that they weren't good shots, but you don't just take turns in pool -- you keep shooting until you miss.

This is the only show on my viewing schedule that I'll watch twice, just because I like hanging with these folks.

Maureen said...

I am loving this show-the dialogue, the quirkiness of the criminals, and the way Oliphant delivers his lines. I know him best from Deadwood, and he is surprising me by how charming he is.

JanieJones said...

I am enjoying the show. I'm with AC ,I was hooked on Olyphant when I saw "Go."
Olyphant has a magnetic draw that is appealing to me.
However, I would not be keen on a continuous route of killing someone each week. I think it would become stale.
"Fixer" was a stronger episode than last week.

I enjoyed seeing Eigenberg.

It is obvious to me that Raylan has issues that are buried within himself. I, for one, would like to see some development over the season as to what makes him tick (without giving away the whole basket). He talks (as with Ava) about his ex but he is reticent even as he speaks. It's part of the charm to his character.

I would also love to see Goggins return because he is an interesting actor who can add to the show.

J.J. said...

I'm fine with the killing, but they have to acknowledge it in the show. And not just an early hand-wave at it so they can go on doing it without anyone ever mentioning it again once they think it's been established that that's just how it is.

His co-workers/boss need to be aware of it. Need to talk about how he has a knack for finding a chance to shoot people where it's technically justified (and possibly avoidable if he wasn't looking to get into situation where he's justified in shooting).

It's really only a problem if they never write in any consequences and it gets to the point where nobody seems to notice the body-count or the way he seems to always find ways into these situations. As long as his job and his coworkers clearly notice what's going on (and seem to be watching him like a hawk, expecting him to eventually toss out the rulebook because maybe he can't help himself), I'm okay with him killing left and right.

Katharine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
katie71483 said...

I'm just happy to see a decent Leonard adaptation and if it's got Timothy Olyphant in it, I'm sold.

I've really enjoyed the first three episodes so far, even the second one, and am looking forward to the rest of season 1. I'm a little disappointed that we haven't seen more of Natalie Zea (I loved her on Dirty, Sexy, Money) but I guess there really hasn't been a way to organically incorporate her in to more of the episodes we've had so far.

Since it's on FX, I'm assuming this is going to be a shorter, 13 episode season. Does anyone know for sure?

michael said...

At least this show has not reached the weekly body count of the current "Doctor Who" and the old "Avengers" where nearly the entire guest cast dies every week.

I recommended this series to a white Southern male friend who sells guns for a living. He found it too violent to watch. But that is part of the charm of this series and many others on FX. It is not the watered down crime thriller we suffer through on network TV.

Anonymous said...

As great as the premiere was, this show's gone off a cliff since then.

Thus far it's been tediously episodic. Suddenly, I felt gypped, like i'd been fooled into watching CBS.

The fantastic ensemble, E. Leonard, and the BoB head writer? On edgy FX? No excuses.

Doesn't improve in the next 2 eps, i'm out.

Sandra said...

Just wanted to add my love for Olyphant from "Go". He is awesome on this show but I do wish it was more serialized, I mean it's on cable!

Anonymous said...

I have read nearly everything Leonard has written, his first works were westerns, short stories like 3:10 to Yuma. There is a whole, large compilation book probably in every library that is a great read. It is amazing how many Western shows and movies were shaped by his stories. If the writers of Justified are keeping to Leonard's style, and I hope they do, the stories and novels always seem to create a looming showdown fairly early on that both the protagonist and antagonist is well aware is coming. Sometimes other characters intervene and prevent the actual showdown, but the outcome is generally the same, someone dies. So I think people should get used to it and try and enjoy how it rolls out.

Robert said...

Body count? Bring it on!

This is the best new cable series in a long time. If telling an interesting story each week results in a causality, so be it. No other 10pm show is as compelling and violent -- wrapped together in perfect harmony -- as Justified.

flem snopes said...

I think that when Raylin can pull a couple of slugs off his vest he can be expected to dispose of his adversaries with prejudice.

I think the killing was...(wait for it)... Justified.

wv: dour - Given's mien.

AG said...

Still loving the show, but agree that Bulloc^H^H^H^H^H^H Raylan is going to get a reputation as a biter. Though as JJ notes, it would be interesting to see how the show might address that...

Dennis said...

I am a different Dennis from the first guy - just to clear that up - and I feel like there's been a huge drop-off from the pilot.

I love the overall tone of the show - Seth Bullock never wanted to return home but basically he's the cut from the same seemingly easygoing but easy to violence cloth as the locals - and as much as he hides it with a different note he's still signing the same song.

But I thought Goggins added a tonne to the show with his character and I like Bullock's boss in this show but I'm not seeing a lot of consistent ancillary elements beyond the main character.

So I guess I'm in agreement with the first Dennis that a serial approach would work best; and that ties in to my idea of just how important Goggins was.

Anonymous said...

Walton Goggins is going to have a big part in the show. Apparently a seasonal arc really kicks in around episode 7 and he is the major part of that...some fun times ahead!!

jasctt said...

I also hope that Goggins comes on more. He's too good to not have as a semi-regular, at least.

The idea of Burt Reynolds as Raylan's pa is MASTERFUL. But how cool would it be to get Ian McShane to play TO's pa?

J.Lightle said...

The show needs some work. It's becoming too cop show drama and not enough FX drama. I was excited to see this coming to FX, because FX originals usually have a more mini-series feel with season & series long arcs. The series premiere episode did not disappoint. But the 2nd & 3rd episodes aren't meeting most fans expectations that I've talked to. I'm not saying it's bad, just not the type of drama I enjoy.

Schmoker said...

@Cameron: I also felt this episode was a reworking of Riding the Rap. Everything from the kidnapped bookie to the western face off was right from the book, and I thought it worked very well.

Like Alan, however, I think they have work to do with the supporting characters. I actually liked the second episode quite a bit, and I liked the actors who played the bad guys enough that I enjoyed spending time with them. But this third episode needed an upgrade in acting quality from the bad guys, especially Travis. That guy was pretty weak, and all the time spent with him and the other guy in the middle of the episode really dragged thanks solely to some really wooden acting.

Otherwise, I'm loving the show, and I think they have Leonard's style down pat. Can't wait for next week. And Raylan can kill as many people as they feel they can get away with. So far, it's all worked out well, and I have no complaints.

Remember, a typical Leonard story includes some very dumb criminals and some very sudden and expected violence. Both the humor and the death work together to punch you in the gut. I think it would be hard to do good Leonard-style stories without the violence. Even though Raylan's killings in the Leonard books were spread out over many years, every Leonard book has death in it. If you are going to do a weekly version of Leonard, then you are going to have to find a lot of ways to kill people and make it work logically.

Tony M said...

I am surprised to say this but...this my new favorite show. The second epsiode had me worried, but the third show restored my enthusasim.

The format lets

leor said...

a little late to seeing this week's episode, but i'm enjoying it so far, and don't mind the weekly deaths. kinda reminds me of the 80s show "Hunter", in which just about every episode the criminal ended up killed by the police.

i did have a problem with the editing continuity of this episode, though...the foam on the egg cream, and the blood in the pool really stuck out to me.