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Luther and Justified - The Ex-Communicator

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May 10th, 2010


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03:01 pm - Luther and Justified
I don't know if you remember but I wrote a post a couple of months ago about Timothy Olyphant (Seth Bullock in Deadwood), wondering whether he could make a career out of his 'No more mister nice guy' act, which kalypso_v expressed better as a 'A very violent man who mostly manages to contain himself (but) always takes the violence so far it's clear that he enjoys it'.

Anyway, his new TV show 'Justified' seems to be simply a weekly dramatisation of this very premise. I've only seen one episode, but it appears to be about a (present day) sheriff who puts himself into situations where he is legally 'Justified' in killing someone. The clue is in the name. It is a little like Dexter, as the victims are bad guys, and the lawman's a psycho, but obviously the killing is occurring in the public sphere.

I think the premise is quite promising, but the first episode was a bit disappointing. It could get much better, as his colleagues and friends sort of figure out he is a violent lunatic, but at present it's rather tame.

This and Luther, also last week, are I think spin-offs by writers who love Deadwood and The Wire, and have tried to extract some of the magical essence of these two shows for mass consumption. This isn't just parasitism, I think, it is a genuine homage to quality - like using Nessun Dorma for football, or putting Shakespeare into Doctor Who. If something is wonderful, but hard to access, can some of its power be opened up via a more accessible and simplified form.

Unfortunately I think neither show has quite managed it. They seem too safe. I think in trying to simplify and make accessible they have somehow lost the essence they are trying to convey. I respect the writers for figuring out the jewel - for example the violence inside the man - and trying to replicate it. I hope both shows find their feet and succeed, not least because I like both actors, but they haven't quite made it yet.

(12 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:lamentables
Date:May 10th, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC)
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Actually, Justified is based an Elmore Leonard character, and if you watch more than one episode you'll find that it isn't the show you've assumed it to be.
It's not perfect, but it's something we're enjoying, especially when the dialogue is snappy, best-of-Elmore-Leonard.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:May 10th, 2010 03:18 pm (UTC)
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Oh, I was sort of hoping he was going to be a psycho.
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From:abrinsky
Date:May 10th, 2010 02:40 pm (UTC)
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Er, you really need to watch some more episodes (as he's not a 'psycho' and it isn't like Dexter... but is playing the same character as Deadwood which gives a much better idea of what it's about).
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:May 10th, 2010 03:22 pm (UTC)
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Well, that explains why it didn't have the frisson I felt it should have had, if the premise is not as extreme as I thought. I think Seth Bullock in Deadwood has an urge to find justifications for violence, and this pent up energy is part of the appeal.
[User Picture]
From:executrix
Date:May 10th, 2010 03:05 pm (UTC)
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Handsum Timothy Olyphant is handsum! I didn't like the first episode of "Justified"--anything that makes me say, "Hey, you're not being fair to inbred mouth-breathing neo-Nazis!" is really not working as it's supposed to.

Raylan sort of reminded me of Marlene Ciampi in Robert Tennenbaum's Butch Karp series of books--Ciampi is a lawyer who represents a lot of abused women, a surprising number of whose abusers happen to get killed when Ciampi argues she was legitimately using deadly force to protect a client.

I stopped watching, so I don't know how much Ava's story continues, but it's an issue the degree to which she was justified in killing her husband. (Err, unless Ava was Raylan's ex-wife, and it was the OTHER woman who gave herself the ought-six divorce.)
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:May 10th, 2010 03:26 pm (UTC)
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What you describe there: 'a surprising number happen to get killed by legitimate use of force' was how I thought the series was going to develop. But, sounds like that's not how it develops in the long run.
[User Picture]
From:muuranker
Date:May 10th, 2010 06:21 pm (UTC)
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I watched Luther but couldn't make it through a whole episode. It didn't help that I tried it straight after (Swedish language) Wallender, I suppose..
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:May 10th, 2010 07:16 pm (UTC)
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I always watch Swedish Wallander. I'm trying to put my finger on what I like about it. In some way it soothes me.
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From:muuranker
Date:May 10th, 2010 07:30 pm (UTC)
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I know what you mean! It's quite (struggling for the word here ... it's not 'intimate' or 'domestic' or 'small town', but something about scale). And it's quite (struggling for the word hear ... it's not 'seasonal' or 'circular' or 'centred' or 'resolving', but something to do with how time is a circle as well as a river, which means the Sayer's observation about the restorative comfort of detective fiction is true, but also not entirely settling.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:May 10th, 2010 07:35 pm (UTC)
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Nicely put. I think the Branagh version maximised the angst, the misery of the character, but the Swedish version is more balanced and homely.
[User Picture]
From:communicator
Date:May 10th, 2010 07:34 pm (UTC)
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Aye, OK, I'll give it a go then. I like him best when he's beating people up anyway.

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