Thursday, May 26, 2011

Notes from the JUSTIFIED screening and Q & A

Natalie Zea   Tim Olyphant   Graham Yost

Margo Martindale   Walton Goggins  Erica Tazel
Got to attend the special night devoted to JUSTIFIED at the TV Academy earlier this week. They showed the second season finale and had a Q & A with members of the cast and showrunner/creator Graham Yost. I have to say, despite my years in the business, when it comes to this show I’m just a total geek fanboy. I’d dress like Raylan Givens but no Jew looks good in a cowboy hat. Anyway, I was thrilled when I got the invitation (especially after my recent post on no longer being on any lists for screenings).

I excitedly called the RSVP line and the recorded message told me to leave my name, number of guests, phone number, and affiliation. I did the first three and then said, “Affiliation? Uh… writer? Mariners? Blogger? I dunno. Hey, you invited me.”

One of those affiliations must’ve worked because I was admitted. Watching the show on the big screen was a totally different experience. There’s no disclaimer that this program might contain violence. Surprisingly, everyone in the theater was able to handle the violence without the warning.  And I thought my High Definition gave me a great picture, but wow! I gotta get me one of those ‘500 foot screens.

The Q & A was terrific. Attending were Timothy Olyphant, Walton Goggins, Natalie Zea, Erica Tazel (don’t say “who?” She plays Rachel), and goddess of goddesses, Margo Martindale. Critic Pete Hammond moderated and did a superb job – and by that I mean he didn’t make the whole evening about himself (as 99.999999% of moderators do).

We learned that the show was pitched to several places before FX bought it (This is so common – short sighted networks passing on shows that become huge hits. I bet HBO wished they had said yes to MAD MEN now.).

Walton Goggins (Boyd) was supposed to die at the end of the pilot but scored so well they brought him back. Suddenly the bullet just missed his heart. (SPOILER ALERT: SEASON TWO FINALE!) When audience members asked if Graham Yost could bring Margo Martindale back he said, “You can’t just miss with poison.”

Yost, by the way, was very articulate and funny. I never saw that humorous side of him watching BAND OF BROTHERS and THE PACIFIC. I blame the directors.

There will be a third season and Yost is a little concerned because how do you top Margo Martindale’s spectacular Mags Bennett character? If she doesn’t win an Emmy then they should disband the Academy. And seeing her performance on the big screen – she should win an Oscar too.  As for next year -- this is usually when you place that call to John Lythgow.

The original title Yost wanted was THE LAW MAN but then learned there was an absurd Steven Segal reality show premiering with that name. Olyphant joked that he saw Segal just the night before in New York at the dinner awarding JUSTIFIED the Peabody Award.

Natalie Zea (Winona) wore glasses, which, to me, defeats the purpose of Natalie Zea being there. We came to see those amazing blue eyes!

What was their favorite individual episode? A lot like #12, one liked #9 and one really favored #3.

Everyone was charming and candid. There was lots of good information, lots of laughs, and most of all, lots of recognition of the great writing by the cast. And the praise seemed sincere. They didn’t appear to be saying nice things just because they know they could get shot in any episode.

Eventually, the audience was invited to ask questions. I was just waiting for the first really stupid one and sure enough, some imbecile with a hillbilly accent pitched himself to be on the show. 

It’s always fun (and very rare) to have a shared experience watching a favorite TV show. I’m sure everyone on the panel also enjoyed the evening. What’s not to like about being showered in adulation? Thanks to the TV Academy for holding it, the actors and writer for doing it, and my friend Howard for taking pictures so my geek fanboy experience could be complete and I now have me and Margo Martindale as my wallpaper!

But please, somebody, stop me before I download the JUSTIFIED theme for my ringtone.


Paul said...

"[N]o Jew looks good in a cowboy hat"

Has Kinky Friedman's stock really fallen so low?

Anonymous said...

Short-sighted, not "short-sided.

Sebastian said...

I think it's pretty clear why you got the invite.

Fanboy! ;-)

Now what's your take on this other thing... you know what I mean. Did Alicia and Will "Do the deed"?

droszel said...

One of my favorite show of all time! Season one hooked me and season two made me a hard-core addict.

Question: why would they do a screening of a show after the season has ended?

Mr. said...

Paul Newman looks pretty good in a cowboy hat.

John Alfenito said...

Great show. But, it's not very well known. Maybe an Emmy, or two, will help that. Margo Martindale for sure!

Please Don't Eat Me said...

I wanted to hate Justified before it premiered and love Southland. But, as it turns out, I loath Southland because it's pretty clear they ripped off Joseph Wambaugh and Police Story and just modernized the show slightly and I love Justified. Even when I know where the plot line is going and what's coming next it's still a great show.

Jon J said...

Darn. I wish there were some way to "just miss" with poison because Mags/Margo were stellar. Start working on some kind of "Who shot J.R." explanation for her return.

avivaleah said...

How exciting for you to attend this event! Justified is one of my favorite shows. This is the only show where I actually look forward to the theme song! My husband thinks I'm weird for loving it so much. Having it as a ringtone would be great.

Yeah, cowboy hats and long curly hair just make me look like a clown.

Great Big Radio Guy said...

If you do use the JUSTIFIED theme as a ringtone, let me know when you're on jury duty and I'll buzz you.

WV: syclunks - no payoff. But what a great word.

bevo said...

AWESOME! Thank you for posting. Would it kill you to live blog next time? :)

Glad to hear there will be a season three.

Walton Goggins deserves about five Emmys to make up for the criminal neglect from the Shield.

wv - chesize: a large or outward sized Cheshire cat like grin.

Gary Moore said...

Thanks for the notes; am living vicariously since I was stationed at the station all night. As a native Kentuckian I'll always be grateful for your heads-up about the show. I second all your sentiments...and the comment about Kinky Friedman.

Anonymous said...

If you're interested in more "Justified" lore, check out the Timothy Olyphant interview on "The Treatment," Elvis Mitchell's show on

Dan O'Day said...

Golly, how did you ever discover this show when it's so little known?

jbryant said...

I knew Durwood Kirby was a native Kentuckian, but Gary Moore, too? :) (No one under 50 will know what the heck I'm referring to.)

I'm a native Kentuckian, too, and I'm hoping to catch up with JUSTIFIED someday soon. I'm just now finishing up DEADWOOD, for cryin' out loud.

Great Big Radio Guy said...

Seriously, the takeaway from the event for me from Graham Yost was how the show is all about second chances, and (most importantly) what the characters do with them. When he said that, it crystalized what sets the show apart in a landscape of absolutes. Without it, I don't think we'd have such a strong connection to the characters, both the good and the bad guys.

Anonymous said...

Based on a previous post that Ken Levine blogged, I decided to check out Justified, especially considering he ranked it above Mad Men. Genuinely, I was excited.

After four episodes, I'm done. The acting is spot on, but the bad-guy of the week formula wore thin very quickly. For me to adore this show, every scene had to connect to the overall story, and I just don't feel it. The cinematography and pacing lacks a unique cohesion of spirit that other dramas nail down from the start.

Quite honestly,this doesn't hold a candle to Mad Men/Breaking Bad/ The Wire as far as plot development and characterization go.

That said, by making comparisons to other shows, and using that as the pitch to "sell" Justified, my expectations were high. After my disappointment, there is now no way I'll even glance at The Good Wife.

Maybe it's my loss, but this comment goes out to those who are close to being convinced that Justified is worth your time.

In comparison with the shows it was compared to, it's not worth a damn.

Kinky Friedman's Stock said...

Ken, I'm sure you'd look good in a cowboy hat, as good as I do, as long as I keep it pulled down, over my eyes. Don't know a thing about Justified, other than the little I retained from reading Ken's posts. I'll guess that Walton Goggins is about as cool a name as you'll find on a roster. And Margo makes anything she's in a whole lot better. Mercy, she's good. I am one of the many who've sworn off cable (and dish), therefore, will have to rent a few episodes to see what all the hype's about. I'm not a fan of The Good Wife (tho I am a fan of Archie's), but that doesn't mean I won't like Justified.

Mike said...

Margo is the best thing about Paris Je T'aime. Margo + Alexander Payne = awesome. I cry every time I see it.

Jim, Cheers Fan said...

Margo is the best thing about Paris Je T'aime.


I agree with anonymous to the extent that I would've happily given up a few bad-guy-of-the-week plots for more Mags (and her tads, and the little girl), more Boyd, more Ava, and more of Old Man Givens and Aunt Helen.

WV: wropers- The British version of The Ropers. Ran for 7 years, starring John Inman and Molly Sudgen

Michael Zand said...

If you like Natalie Zea, you can see A LOT more of her out in the first few episodes of the first season of HBO's unwatchable show "Hung." She is so...Rrrrrr.

Andy said...

@Anonymous (5/26/2011 3:52 PM):

I felt much the same way for the first few episode. Then Episode 1x06 happened, and I was finally hooked. In retrospect, I think it's the hinge between Bad Guy Of The Week and Greatness. (And I just loved the punchline to the paintings.) Or sample 1x09 "Hatless".

What I mean to say is: Have just a little more faith, it'll pay off. :)

Pamela Atherton said...

If you read Elmore Leonard at all, you can see why the show is so good. His quirky style - and as @GreatBigRadioGuy said - the lack of absolutes, is what makes the show so fabulous. And the theme music! (Which I understand Leonard himself picked out.) Gangstagrass.

Wish I could have gone to the screening. I'm a definite FanGirl of the show!

Rick said...

Great blog Ken. I was there too and it was one of the best I've ever been to...and how do you say no to free booze?

Rick Scarry

Anonymous said...


I stand by my original statement that the show lacked a cohesion of spirit for those first few episodes.

But your argument validated my specific concerns while at the same time convincing me to pull out the DVD set one more time and give it a shot.

Based on your post alone, I'm going to finish out the season and give it my all as far as hope and enthusiasm.

belinda said...

Embarrassed, but I actually do have the Justified theme song as my ringtone. :D