There's no denying it. 'Justified' is simply one of (if not the) best shows on television. With three seasons under its belt (and the fourth starting very soon), the show has become a full-fledged must-see. Based on Elmore Leonard's short story about a smooth-talking U.S. Marshal named Raylan Givens, 'Justified' continues to be a go-to stop for quality television viewing.
The biggest reason for the show's success is the character of Raylan Givens. 'Justified' could've easily settled into a formulaic rut that so many police procedurals find themselves mired in. Instead the show steps above the same-old-same-old and features one of the most interesting characters on television. Raylan is a lawman who would much rather talk his way out of a situation than use deadly force. Timothy Olyphant's portrayal of the infamous Marshal is some of the best acting on TV right now. The way Olyphant coolly delivers the sly dialogue provided by the show's writers is outstanding. There are so many instances where Raylan is able to talk his way out of a confrontation with his quick wits. He exudes an intimidating demeanor, which just so happens to be much more effective than his gun.
With every great hero there must be a villain and 'Justified' has one of the best. Yes, bad guys come and go in each season of the show, but the main bad guy, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), is expertly written. Here is a villain that has more layers than most television characters. It's almost impossible to get a good handle on what Boyd is thinking. His talks with Raylan are always underscored by boiling animosity, yet the two of them end up having to work together more than they'd like. It's a dynamic relationship to say the least.
In the second season Raylan found himself at loggerheads with the Bennett clan. Mags Bennett (Margo Martindale) provided another fantastic villainous role for a show that has no shortage of bad people. She proved to be quite an antagonist for Raylan as he tried to break up their backwoods criminal stronghold.
In season three Raylan faces more tough competition. Boyd is still around and still looking to reestablish the Crowder name in the criminal syndicate. Along with him Raylan faces an increasingly dangerous organized crime influence moving into Kentucky. There's also a new, very dangerous, criminal presence in Ellstin Limehouse (Mykelti Williamson) who proves to be every bit as deadly as Mags.
There isn't an aspect of 'Justified' that I don't like. From the acting to the writing, everything is top-notch. FX has a stable of great shows, and this is their best. They're quickly catching up to the quality programming that can be found on the paid cable networks like Showtime and HBO.
Season three of 'Justified' is every bit as good as the first two seasons. It feels like the weight of the criminal world is coming down around Raylan. Even his own father can't keep himself away from Boyd Crowder's pull.
If you're looking for some of the finest television has to offer, then look no further than 'Justified'. It will suck you in just as much as shows like 'Breaking Bad' or 'Dexter.' It's every bit as addicting and worthwhile. If you haven't gotten into this show, now's the time.
Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This is a Sony release. It comes in a three-disc set. The discs are each 50GBs. The discs are housed in a slightly oversized keepcase that comes with a slipcover. It's been coded for Region A use.
'Justified' has always had a decidedly grittier feel on Blu-ray. The 1080p presentations are aptly filmic in appearance. The cinematic grain produced really makes the episodes feel more like hour-long movies. The first two seasons have very strong visual presentations and season three is no exception.
Colors are just as bold as they ever were. Crimson blood pops off the screen as does the rich greenery of backwoods Kentucky (which is actually rural California). Detail is very strong up close, but it's also just as revealing in mid- and long-range shots. Edges are crisp. Shadows are resolute. Blacks are inky.
The show still has a problem with getting the green-screen effects in moving cars exactly right. Whenever characters find themselves talking in a car's interior the show's producers have opted to go with digitally inserted exterior shots of scenery blowing by outside. They've never looked quite right and the high-def treatment only draws attention to their flatness.
Despite the flat digital effects, the rest of the show looks great. The natural filmic appearance is especially welcome in an age of overly digital-looking TV shows. Even with the grain the show isn't overrun with noise. If you liked the first couple seasons then you'll definitely enjoy this one.
As far as television goes, 'Justified' provides one of the livelier environments when it comes to mixing audio. All the gunfights and hand-to-hand combat scenes produce a wide array of sound effects that make the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix one of the best that TV on Blu-ray has to offer.
The nicely mixed gun fighting fills each audio channel with ease, as bullets ping back and forth. Explosions aren't plentiful in 'Justified', but when they happen, rest assured there is plenty of LFE to accompany them.
Dialogue is the most important part of the show though. Even through the thick accents that most of the characters have, the dialogue is always presented clearly through the center speaker. The front speakers work perfectly as directional channels placing off screen voices exactly where they should be. There are plenty of whispered conversations, especially when Boyd Crowder is concerned, so it's nice that those instances are perfectly intelligible.
For those of you who already watch the show, you know how great it is. For those of you that, for some inexplicable reason, haven't gotten into 'Justified,' do so, now! Through three seasons the show still hasn't taken a noticeable dive in quality. They've continued to tell a wonderfully detailed story with rich character who are always changing and evolving. With strong audio and video, this purchase should be a no-brainer. 'Justified: The Complete Third Season' is highly recommended.