TV Shows You Should Watch If You Like JUSTIFIED

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Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens embodied a perfect fusion of Elmore Leonard's work. He was a hero who could have seamlessly stepped out of the Wild West stories Leonard wrote in his youth and into the gritty crime novels that later made him a literary legend. In his first appearance in the 1993 novel "Pronto," Givens portrayed a deliberately anachronistic character. Initially, nobody took him seriously – not the small-time kidnappers, not the bookies looking to retire, and certainly not the women. But that perception quickly changed. With his trusty six-shooter and unwavering belief in his own myth and marksmanship, he became a force to be reckoned with.


Givens is the epitome of a character meant for the screen, regardless of its size. While a TV movie adaptation of "Pronto" had its merits, it failed to impress the author. It wasn't until screenwriter Graham Yost, known for his work on "Speed," and the perfect companion for Givens came along that the Marshal truly came to life. The pilot episode of "Justified," based on Leonard's short story "Fire in the Hole," concluded with the demise of the hometown antagonist Boyd Crowder. However, the undeniable chemistry between Givens and Crowder, portrayed brilliantly by Walton Goggins and Timothy Olyphant respectively, prompted the producers to resurrect the character.


After six successful seasons, eight Emmy nominations, and the author's own endorsement, "Justified" proudly stands as the ultimate adaptation of Leonard's work, featuring his quintessential hero. For those yearning for more Harlan County action or eagerly awaiting a potential sequel series, the following 14 TV shows are sure to satisfy that craving.


Karen Sisco



"Karen Sisco" was such a phenomenal show that the producers of "Justified" were willing to risk legal consequences from The Walt Disney Company to establish it as part of their canon. When Carla Gugino joins the cast in the third season, she portrays Karen Goodall, with her maiden name being irrelevant. However, a quick look at her background – still working for the Marshals Service, still in Miami – reveals her true identity. It's unmistakably Sisco, last seen on ABC almost a decade earlier, with only seven aired episodes from an unfinished first season.

In 2003, "Karen Sisco" had all the makings of a highly anticipated Leonard adaptation. Produced by Danny DeVito, who had previously worked on "Get Shorty" and "Out of Sight," and with screenwriter Scott Frank on board, it had the backing of notable industry figures. Robert Forster, an Oscar-nominated star from "Jackie Brown," replaced Dennis Farina as Karen's doting yet flawed father. The pilot episode even directly adapted Leonard's first Sisco story, "Karen Makes Out." While network standards may have slightly toned down the show's edginess, it had all the other elements in its favor. Unfortunately, it failed to make a significant impact in the realm of Dick Wolf procedurals. However, "Karen Sisco" deserves a reevaluation or, at the very least, a re-release. It serves as a missing link between the ultra-cool adaptations of the '90s and the upcoming smaller, grittier projects. Furthermore, it stands as an excellent hour of television on its own, with memorable moments like the Isley Brothers song playing over the credits.

The Americans



When the New York Times contacted the CIA to verify the credentials of "Americans" creator Joe Weisberg for a story, they received the typical response of neither confirming nor denying. Only after persistent questioning did they receive a somewhat cryptic answer: "If he hadn't been in the CIA, we would somehow let you know." However, all one needs to do is watch a few episodes of the show to understand the truth.

Apart from the involvement of executive producer Yost and the Emmy-winning performance by "Justified" veteran Margo Martindale, "The Americans" doesn't share much in common with its country-western cousin. Pulp is a luxury that Russian spies Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell cannot afford. Living undercover as loyal Americans, they rely on calculated procedures to stay alive while keeping everyone else – informants, their children, even the FBI agent next door – in the dark. The show is a constant state of suspense, each episode holding its breath from the gripping opening foot chase set to Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk" to the devastating finale. "The Americans" may not always be an enjoyable watch – even Rhys's late-game passion for line dancing is tinged with despair – but it never wastes a moment in capturing the atmosphere of Reagan-era dread.

The Shield



Norm Macdonald once shared a story about his mother finding innuendo amusing while watching a sitcom but reacting with shock when he filled in the suggestive blank, even though it all rhymed. What set "The Shield" apart from the numerous TV police dramas upon its premiere in 2002 was its willingness to fill in that blank. While loose cannons had been a common trope, the emphasis had always been on the "playing" aspect. However, in the closing moments of the very first episode, corrupt cop Michael Chiklis cold-bloodedly executes a rookie officer to eliminate the risk of having an idealistic do-gooder around.

As the first scripted drama to achieve significant success on basic cable, "The Shield" revolutionized television. Many shows on this list, including the reason for its creation, owe their existence to its groundbreaking impact. Additionally, it introduced Walton Goggins to the FX network, a collaboration that would prove significant. Goggins' character was not initially intended to be in the spotlight, but producers recognized his talent and pushed him to the forefront of early scripts. The network quickly saw the same potential, and his portrayal of Shane Vendrell throughout the show's seven seasons remains a standout performance in the genre.

Maximum Bob



"Maximum Bob," Elmore Leonard's 29th novel, is a prime example of his signature storytelling filled with colorful characters. It features a mix of high-powered fraudsters, lowlife scroungers, a self-proclaimed cowboy (with no relation), and a touch of eccentricity. While it's slightly funnier than his typical paperback fare, the humor is only marginally heightened.

The television adaptation of "Maximum Bob," a seven-episode series produced by Barry Sonnenfeld, takes on a sitcom-like approach reminiscent of "Twin Peaks." When public defender Liz Vassey arrives in Deepwater, Florida, it feels as if she's stumbled upon an undiscovered tribe. Judge Beau Bridges, who is gleefully cruel and openly lecherous, serves as the de facto ruler and executioner of his swampy domain. His queen, a former Weeki Wachee mermaid played by Kiersten Warren, channels both her own voice and that of a deceased slave girl. And this is just the beginning of the bizarre and twisted world they inhabit. While the first hour of the series covers the events of the novel, the subsequent episodes delve into Cuban revolutionaries lying in wait and local mythical creatures on the prowl. No close-up shot remains unwarped, and no accent goes unfried.

"Maximum Bob" takes the Leonard recipe and amplifies it to create a distinct flavor of watchability. Leonard himself referred to it as "Hee Haw: The Movie," and while taste may vary, he's not entirely wrong in his assessment. The show embraces its own peculiar charm, making it a unique and engaging viewing experience.

Get Shorty



According to Dustin Hoffman, the character of "shorty" in "Get Shorty" is based on him. However, Elmore Leonard, who had previously collaborated with Hoffman on an unsuccessful adaptation of "La Brava," denied these claims. The 2017 series adaptation on Epix, while dropping the "shorty" character, retains the essence of the absurdity that permeates both the novel and the Hollywood setting. It can be seen as the equivalent of FX's "Fargo" to the Coen brothers, capturing the spirit of Elmore Leonard's work.

While names and personalities may have changed, the underlying dreams of the characters in the series remain just out of reach, hovering between naivety and delusion. Chris O'Dowd's character, a mafia ditch-digger, aspires to have a career that his daughter can admire. When he stumbles upon a debtor's screenplay, he seeks out Ray Romano's character, a desperate peddler of direct-to-video films, to form a partnership. Together, they hope to achieve success or die trying. Unlike the novel and the film, which had definitive endings, the series finds a way to maintain the resonant frequency of Leonard's work, constantly escalating the crime and creating three seasons of gripping storytelling. Unfortunately, due to its airing on a premium cable network, "Get Shorty" did not garner the viewership it deserved during its initial run and has yet to gain the recognition it deserves on streaming platforms. However, given time, it may find its place as Hollywood has a penchant for stories like these.

Fargo




One compelling reason to recommend "Fargo" is the appearance of Timothy Olyphant as a Stetson-wearing U.S. Marshal in the fourth season. However, that is just a superficial similarity, albeit an attractive one. For those seeking unnervingly charismatic killers and small-town individuals whose best-laid plans go awry, it is worth exploring the earlier seasons that draw more inspiration from the Coen brothers, who were avid fans of Elmore Leonard.

The first season of "Fargo" follows the unlikely partnership between Martin Freeman's character, a timid individual, and Billy Bob Thornton's character, a psychopathic assassin. While the latter is merely passing through town for business, in this part of the world, everyone's business becomes intertwined. The ten episodes of the season oscillate between dark comedy and sheer bleakness, with Thornton delivering haunting lines akin to fast-food orders. 

The second season expands the narrative's scope and allows more light to seep in, giving lawmen portrayed by Patrick Wilson and Ted Danson more space to operate, while amateur killers played by Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons find themselves with fewer places to hide. This season's sprawling storyline creates one of the most uniquely cruel crime stories ever presented on television, blending quaintness with the dark underbelly of human nature.

Overall, "Fargo" offers a compelling blend of dark humor, intriguing characters, and a distinctive small-town backdrop that captures the essence of Elmore Leonard's work and the Coen brothers' style.

Bosch



Both "Bosch" and "Justified" are hit crime dramas based on famous authors' iconic characters. They feature lone-wolf law enforcement officers who come from troubled backgrounds and find themselves entangled in illegal and lethal situations. The standout performances by their respective leading actors contribute to their similarities, alongside the genre conventions they adhere to.

In "Bosch," Titus Welliver brings to life the character of Harry Bosch, a law enforcer with an unwavering moral compass. Welliver describes Bosch as someone who remains steadfast in his pursuit of justice, acting as a relentless force during investigations. Even when a case interrupts his New Year's Eve, he shrugs it off with the attitude that "crime never sleeps."

As one of Amazon's pioneering original series, "Bosch" may have initially flown under the radar, but it gained a dedicated following and even became the first hit procedural of the streaming age. While it may not have received extensive recaps or high-brow critical acclaim, it found its audience and resonated with viewers. The enduring popularity of Michael Connelly's hard-boiled hero, both in literature and on screen, speaks to the character's appeal. If you're interested, there's still time to experience the series before the spinoff arrives on IMDb TV.

Deadwood



To recommend "Deadwood" in comparison to any other serialized TV drama that followed it is akin to recommending Homer's "Odyssey" for any other written work, albeit with some exaggeration. Alongside HBO contemporaries such as "The Sopranos" and "The Wire," David Milch's frontier epic set the standard for exploring the absence of law. Language and violence, fresh elements on the television landscape at the time, were not used for cheap shocks but to establish the time, place, and poetic atmosphere of the show. Instead of traditional heroes, "Deadwood" presented anti-heroes, and even that label seemed generous. The town's heart beat through the powder-black souls of its inhabitants, with two characters serving as the driving force.

Reluctant sheriff Timothy Olyphant and saloon proprietor Ian McShane cannot be simply categorized as the local angel and devil, as everyone in "Deadwood" embodies both sides. However, they are the anchors that keep the town's tension taut. McShane, already known for his powerful performances, delivers every profanity-laden line with a unique flair that makes it feel like his own creation. Olyphant, previously seen in underwhelming film projects, is a revelation in the series. He exudes coiled-spring rage, hip-holster swagger, and an unmistakable sense that, despite his cool demeanor, he longs to be even cooler. The Olyphant archetype emerged fully formed in "Deadwood" and influenced all his subsequent work. Without the show, he may not have landed the iconic Raylan Givens role.

It's evident that Olyphant was destined to wear the hat, both literally and metaphorically, as his portrayal in "Deadwood" solidified his place as a standout performer.

The Grinder



The Grinder" is a comedy series that unfortunately met its demise after just one season, despite receiving critical acclaim. The show features Rob Lowe as an actor who gained fame for portraying a lawyer, but now seeks to regain his center by returning to his hometown in Idaho and joining his family's law firm. Alongside his brother, played by Fred Savage, and their father, portrayed by William Devane, Lowe's character believes that his scripted experience is enough to make him a competent lawyer. However, as he navigates his new role off-screen, he faces the grim reality that his on-screen legacy is fading away.

Enter Timothy Olyphant, who plays a fictionalized version of himself in the series. Olyphant's character becomes a threatening presence, mirroring Lowe's character's own persona. He injects his surfer-dude philosophy with "bros" instead of using periods, forces his dates to watch his latest episodes, and takes every opportunity to show off his abs on camera. Additionally, he happens to star in a spin-off of Lowe's show set in New Orleans and manages to seduce the one woman Lowe's character can't resist. Olyphant, who rarely gets the chance to play boogeymen, delivers a rare and delightful self-parody performance. Although he only appears in four out of the 22 episodes, the entire series of "The Grinder" is worthy of recognition and celebration.

Terriers



In the gritty and noir-infused series "Terriers," thief-turned-private investigator Michael Raymond-James remarks to cop-turned-PI Donal Logue that their recent job was the easiest $40,000 they ever made. Little do they know that their seemingly simple task will unleash a chain of events that draws the attention of the unforgiving gods of the noir genre. Instead of finding a young runaway as expected, they stumble upon the decaying corpse of an unidentified man. Forced to flee the scene, they find themselves back at their towed pick-up, realizing that in their world, where they teeter on the edge of financial ruin, trouble always seems to find them.

Ted Griffin's "Terriers" carries shades of Chandler's Los Angeles, where the aftermath of the Great Depression loomed like a lingering mushroom cloud. The series captures the familiar yet picturesque damage left in the wake of the 2008 recession. Logue and Raymond-James's characters scrape their way out of ground zero, resorting to kidnapping lost dogs to make ends meet.

It's impossible to discuss "Terriers" without a sense of loss or a whispered farewell nearby. Despite receiving critical acclaim and amassing a passionate cult following, the show garnered the lowest ratings of any FX series in the network's history. However, it takes just one episode to understand why its cancellation is mourned so deeply. "Terriers" truly was that good, leaving a lasting impact on those who experienced its gripping storytelling and compelling characters.

Raines


"Raines" falls into the category of mid-2000s police procedurals that revolve around detectives with deep-seated neuroses that oddly benefit their investigative skills. It can be considered a form of "Monk"-sploitation, a genre that perfectly fits the eccentric nature of Jeff Goldblum, ensuring he remains gainfully employed.

In the series, Goldblum's character, Detective Raines, sees dead people, or rather, he has vivid hallucinations of them in a Sherlock Holmes-like manner. The more he observes and learns about these apparitions, the more accurate they become. His deceased partner, played by Malik Yoba, exists within Raines's own mind. However, Raines also interacts with a manifested prostitute who scolds him for imagining her in a stereotypically revealing outfit. This raises the question of whether Raines is simply indulging in pretend or if he's picking up on some mysterious signal.

Creator Graham Yost explained that he didn't want to spend excessive time in the pilot episode setting up how Raines's abilities worked. Unfortunately, the show only lasted for seven episodes, despite Goldblum's compelling portrayal and Frank Darabont's direction of the pilot episode. It's a shame, both at the time and now, as there were many intriguing possibilities for exploring Raines's interactions with the deceased.

Trust



In the series "Trust," Brendan Fraser, portraying a fixer for the wealthy Getty family, remarks that the rich are fundamentally different from the rest of us. He illustrates this point with a war story, recounting an incident where a squadmate showed no hesitation or remorse in sacrificing friendly lives to lighten an overloaded helicopter. While his listener may find this lesson perplexing, the audience has ample time to connect the dots. Fraser's character, as described by him, serves as the Greek chorus—a representative of the Have-Nots among the Haves, highlighting the stark contrast between them through soliloquies and his presence in their luxurious world.

As portrayed in Simon Beaufoy's "Trust," the Gettys are not a cohesive family unit but rather embodiments of unyielding greed. The patriarch, played by Donald Sutherland, is a legendary oil tycoon who is spiritually depleted, having long been insulated from the human condition. His children endure any amount of abuse to remain in proximity to the family fortune. Compassion has eroded, replaced by self-destructive endurance and a Texan tour guide who exudes a swagger to navigate this world. Even for those familiar with the story, director Danny Boyle's glamorous touches and Fraser's triumphant return to the spotlight make the sole season of "Trust" a worthwhile investment.

Boomtown



Graham Yost, following in the footsteps of Akira Kurosawa, took inspiration from the film "Rashomon" to create an NBC procedural called "Boomtown." Unlike its source material, "Boomtown" focused on presenting crimes from multiple perspectives, including those of the police, perpetrators, victims, and bystanders. The show did not editorialize or offer a single truth; instead, it explored the power of different viewpoints. In just 45 minutes, the series managed to weave together various perspectives to create a complete story that delved into the emotional lives of each flawed character.

"Boomtown" offered a more empathetic portrayal of the game of cops and robbers. The pilot episode began with a poetic monologue to the camera about the desolation of the L.A. River. Only in the closing scene did it become clear that the monologue served as the eulogy of a grieving man who couldn't bring himself to scatter ashes over the river. Even the most dubious characters, like Neal McDonough's future "Justified" role as a chilling district attorney, were given depth and understanding.

Unfortunately, despite its unique structure, "Boomtown" struggled with low ratings and network interference. The show managed to air two episodes into its second season before NBC decided to cancel it. In a retrospective interview with AV Club, Yost acknowledged that "Boomtown" may have been better suited for networks like HBO or FX. It was a bittersweet and astute eulogy for a series that had great potential.

Thief



"Thief," despite its short-lived run of only six episodes, stands as a notable entry in FX's lineup. Airing before acclaimed shows like "Damages" and "Sons of Anarchy," it ironically served as a blueprint for the network's future original programming. The series revolves around master thief Andre Braugher, who grapples with the delicate balance between his criminal activities, such as robbing U.S. Treasury planes at night, and his responsibilities as a father figure to his estranged stepdaughter, played by Mae Whitman. In many ways, Braugher's character foreshadows the themes explored in "The Americans," with its focus on the challenges of maintaining a double life.

The relationship between Braugher's character and the corrupt cop portrayed by Michael Rooker, although mostly developed through off-screen reputation, hints at the mutually twisted respect shared by Raylan and Boyd in "Justified." As with many of FX's successful shows, the standout performance in "Thief" is worth its weight in gold statues tv similer to justified

Braugher delivers a phenomenal performance, as he always does. His stoic and composed demeanor, later showcased with lethal comic effect in "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," becomes his trademark here. Every gesture and blink is deliberate, exuding the calmness of a skilled safe-cracker. However, a close-up reveals the complexity behind his seemingly immovable facade. Behind his bulldog eyes, one can see the intricate interplay of emotions and motivations. It's in these subtle nuances that the true action of the series unfolds, surpassing the allure of spinning dials and fenced diamonds.

THE END
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