Communicator (communicator) wrote,

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.
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