The early reviews of the new FX show Justified, starring Timothy Olyphant, have been universally excellent and you can count me among those that think the show is the best of the mid-season crop. (Although, given that the cable nets don't usually follow the typical September to May season schedule, can we really consider this a mid-season show? Let's just say we can to eliminate undue confusion.)
Olyphant plays US Marshal Raylan Givens who's spent his career in Florida taking his job pretty seriously. He's been in more than one situation requiring that he fire his weapon and when he shoots, he shoots to kill, not to injure. So he's racked up a fairly public body count that has led to some frustrations for his management. That's the impetus for him being transferred to the Lexington, KY office which just happens to be very near the small town where he grew up. Once back in Kentucky, he becomes reacquainted with his old pal, Boyd Crowder (Walter Goggins), who is now an anti-government, neo-Nazi, psychotic criminal, Boyd's husband-killing sister-in-law, Ava (Joelle Carter) who has been itching to jump Raylan's bones since puberty, and his own ex-wife Winona (Natalie Zea) who left him years ago for the man who is now her husband.
Raylan is a dedicated law man to be sure, but he isn't a man who seems to see things in black and white which makes things interesting. With a complicated past (his mother is dead, his father is still in Kentucky and is a life-long criminal himself) that is left partly shrouded in mystery, what we find out about Raylan we mostly find out by watching him work and through one revealing conversation with Winona. This is the best kind of Elmore Leonard story and Raylan is the best kind of Elmore Leonard character.
The acting is top-notch from Olyphant, Goggins, and the rest of the supporting cast (Joelle Carter really inhabits Eva in a slightly unsettling way), but I wouldn't be me if I didn't mention that one of my favorite things about the show is how freaking HOT Timothy Olyphant is in it. They've let him keep the natural grey in his hair and in upcoming episodes they'll be encouraging him to show off his other physical assets, but even when he's full clothed and wearing that big ol' cowboy hat, he is 9 kinds of sexy.
If you missed the first episode last night you'll have a few more chances to catch it before the second ep next week and I highly encourage you to make the effort. It's a truly excellent show.