Justified Season 6 RayActions – Episode 3, “Noblesse Oblige”

justifiedOn January 20th, FX’s Justified began its sixth and final season. Based on several Elmore Leonard works, Justified follows Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), a US Marshal who is “exiled” to his hometown of Harlan, Kentucky. Raylan frequently finds himself in conflict with erstwhile mining buddy, now criminal mastermind, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), as the two attempt to coexist in a world that seems a little too small for both of them. Justified highlights the local culture and explores numerous themes, such as family, religion, history and the thin line that divides the good guys from the bad.

Join Jeff (of Slazenger1) and me in the coming months as we honor this criminally underrated drama with a series of “RayActions” to each of Justified’s Season 6 episodes. These posts will not be particularly formal, but will give us the chance to make some observations and reflect on each episode, likely culminating in a full Season 6 Dead Season Discussion after the finale.

This week’s RayAction is focused on Justified Season 6, Episode 3 – “Noblesse Oblige.” It contains SPOILERS for the entire series of Justified. Fire in the Hole!

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Patches
Even if we’re still too early in the season for a trip to the fireworks factory, “Noblesse Oblige” still had a lot going on. Raylan and Rachel teamed up to investigate missing explosives, only to match wits (actually, that’s probably singular) with Harlan’s answer to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Choo-Choo explained the finer points of bank vaults to Ava after catching her spying for Boyd. Avery Markham demonstrated a callous disregard for both upper teeth and Federal kidnapping and terrorism statutes. And Boyd found out he was being played by Katherine Hale and Wynn Duffy before pledging to kill Markham. The look on his face did not seem to indicate his warpath would end there.

I know this is opening a huge satchel of worms (I’m going green) because everyone uses a different rubric, but it might be time to start asking if Justified is the best show on television right now. It has to be in the conversation, right? Continue reading

Justified Season 6 RayActions – Episode 2, “Cash Game”

justifiedOn January 20th, FX’s Justified began its sixth and final season. Based on several Elmore Leonard works, Justified follows Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), a US Marshal who is “exiled” to his hometown of Harlan, Kentucky. Raylan frequently finds himself in conflict with erstwhile mining buddy, now criminal mastermind, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), as the two attempt to coexist in a world that seems a little too small for both of them. Justified highlights the local culture and explores numerous themes, such as family, religion, history and the thin line that divides the good guys from the bad.

Join Jeff (of Slazenger1) and me in the coming months as we honor this criminally underrated drama with a series of “RayActions” to each of Justified’s Season 6 episodes. These posts will not be particularly formal, but will give us the chance to make some observations and reflect on each episode, likely culminating in a full Season 6 Dead Season Discussion after the finale.

This week’s RayAction is focused on Justified Season 6, Episode 2 – “Cash Game.” It contains SPOILERS for the entire series of Justified. Fire in the Hole!

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Jeff
God bless the writers, crew, cast and casting directors of Justified. I know that USA Network says “characters welcome,” but Justified does distinct and wonderful characters better than any other show on TV. Even in its final season, Justified is not satisfied to simply rest on everything it has built over the past five years. Instead, the writers continue to introduce colorful and interesting individuals who are fully-formed from their first appearance on the screen, no matter how short it is (Jackie Nevada, anyone). This episode is a notable showcase of just how awesome the series is in that respect. Continue reading

Justified Season 6 RayActions – Episode 1, “Fate’s Right Hand”

justifiedOn January 20th, FX’s Justified began its sixth and final season. Based on several Elmore Leonard works, Justified follows Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), a US Marshal who is “exiled” to his hometown of Harlan, Kentucky. Raylan frequently finds himself in conflict with erstwhile mining buddy, now criminal mastermind, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), as the two attempt to coexist in a world that seems a little too small for both of them. Justified highlights the local culture and explores numerous themes, such as family, religion, history and the thin line that divides the good guys from the bad.

Join Jeff (of Slazenger1) and me in the coming months as we honor this criminally underrated drama with a series of “RayActions” to each of Justified’s Season 6 episodes. These posts will not be particularly formal, but will give us the chance to make some observations and reflect on each episode, likely culminating in a full Season 6 Dead Season Discussion after the finale.

This week’s RayAction covers Justified’s Season 6 premiere, “Fate’s Right Hand.” It contains SPOILERS for the entire series of Justified. Fire in the Hole!

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Patches
Justified is back. And I mean that both literally and figuratively.

First, the literal part. I have missed this show more than any other show on television. I watch Homeland, Always Sunny, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Sherlock, and Game of Thrones. Most of those shows, I can watch when it is convenient. I have no compulsion to watch them NOW. The exception is Game of Thrones, which can sometime be – “oppressive” or “a chore” are too strong, but – heavy. It takes a lot of energy to watch Game of Thrones. It’s epic, meaningful, constantly tragic, and most of the time, almost relentless in its humorlessness.

I missed Justified so much because it so effortlessly avoids either problem. It is deep and meaningful and explores important topics and themes, but it’s loaded with quirkiness, humor, and local flavor. Justified is a lot like Raylan describes bourbon to a Mexican Federale: Continue reading

24: The Longest Dead Series Discussion of Our Lives – Superlatives

Title Card24 is a groundbreaking and important television series. Beyond the thrills, kills, twists, and tragedies is a show that reached a new level of serialized storytelling and set the bar for action and suspense on network television. Lasting for 8 full seasons and one “limited series”–204 episodes plus a TV movie–24 is one of the longest-running shows of the past 15 years. Others, like Grey’s Anatomy, NCIS, Smallville, two CSIs and two or three Law & Orders, may have run longer, but the argument can be made that none of those shows are equally as worthy of contributing to the debatably labeled and vaguely-defined “Third Golden Age of Television Drama” that began with The Sopranos in 1999 and is now fading with the end of Breaking Bad and the impending finale of Mad Men. Perhaps 24 doesn’t quite reach the dramatic heights of those shows, or others like The Wire and Deadwood, or even The Shield, Lost or Battlestar Galactica, but it was always a strong awards and ratings contender and it was just so addicting and fun to watch.

For the last year, we—Patches, Zach, Jeff and MegaMix—looked back at the entirety of 24, from its 2001 premiere to 2014’s Live Another Day. This month’s discussion focuses on our Superlatives, the Best and Worst that 24 had to offer through 206 hours of television.

It contains SPOILERS for the entire series of 24 and strong language. Parental discretion is advised. Discussion occurs in real time.

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Season Rankings
Jeff: Three, One, Two, Four, Five, Seven, Eight, Live Another Day, Six. As much as I’ve turned around on 5 and as much as I find 7 to be a delightful breath of fresh air in the late-series doldrums, I’ve simply got to dance with the one that brung me.
Zach: Take Jeff’s and swap Five and Four.
Patches: Three, Seven, Five, Four, Two, One, Eight, Live Another Day, Six. My big upset here is Season 7, which was the first season since S3 to introduce characters I truly cared about and the only season to seriously grapple with the War on Terror and the show’s own ideology.
MegaMix: Gots to go Three, Five, One, Four, Seven, Two, Eight, LAD, & Six. Wow.

Best Season
Jeff: Season 3, home to (arguably) the best episode of the series, which is also, thanks to a presidential press conference moving it from Tuesday 4/13/04 to Sunday 4/18/04, the lowest rated episode in 24’s initial 8 season run.
Zach: Season 3.
Patches: Season 3. We’ve said all there is to say. Well, not really. But we’ve said all we’re going to say.
MegaMix: Tres.

Worst Season
Jeff: Season 6.
Zach: Season 1 of 2.4.
Patches: Season 6. Yup.
MegaMix: 6, but honorable mention to LAD. 6 sucked, period. LAD was a disappointment. Sometimes disappointments are worse.

Best Performance
Jeff: Kief aside, I’ll go with Gregory Itzin as Charles Logan. It’s a role made for sinking your teeth into, and Itzin devours it. Cherry Jones may be the only non-Sutherland to win an Emmy for 24, but Itzin gets my vote.
Zach: Kiefer Sutherland. The show simply doesn’t exist without him.
Patches: It has to be Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer, right? Master of the tortured tortured torturer? For the sake of discussion, I’ll go with Dennis Haysbert who expertly portrayed the president we wished we perpetually had. I’m not sure anyone on television emanates Haysbert’s level of integrity, strength, patience, wisdom, and moral certitude.
MegaMix: Mary Lynn Rajskub as Chloe O’Brian. Honestly, Kiefer was fantastic, but Mary Lynn came out of nowhere with this role. She’s mostly done comedic work outside of this and absolutely steals most scenes.

vlcsnap-2013-11-17-00h24m36s193Worst Performance
Jeff: It’s hard to find a main character who isn’t brought down by bad writing alone. I’ll go with the Season 6 Palmers, Sandra (Regina King) and President Wayne (DB Woodside). Both are as flat as their dialogue. Also, and this may be sacrilege, but as great as he is in certain moments, I often feel like William Devane as James Heller is reading off of cue cards.
Zach: Fuck off, Cheng.
Patches: Leslie Hope as Teri Bauer in Season 1. 24 casted well enough to avoid anyone terrible joining the main cast, but Hope’s performance struck me as bland, boring, and uninspired. The writers sure didn’t do her any favors either, but “listless” isn’t the best way to elevate a character.
MegaMix: Elisha Cuthbert as Kim Bauer. As cute as she is, everything about her screams BLEH! She sticks out like a random cougar in the middle of a season. Continue reading

24: The Longest Dead Series Discussion of Our Lives – Season Six

“THERE IS NO GOD”

Title Card2.4 (two-point-four) is a mindnumbing and nauseating television series. Beyond the what?!, why?!, who?! and OH GOD DAMNIT GUYS is a show that reached a new level of terrible “story”telling and dropped the bar for action and suspense on network television. Lasting for only 1 full seasons–24 Episodes plus a lot of sadness–2.4 is one of the most infuriating shows of the past 15 years. Others, like Viva Laughlin, Heroes, Eli Stone, all twentyseven Survivors and three of four eps of Sean Saves the World, may have run longer, but the argument can be made that none of those shows are equally as worthy of contributing to the debatably labeled and vaguely-defined “Run of the American Television show 24” that began with Season 1 in 2001 and is now returning with the mini-series Live Another Day. Perhaps 2.4 doesn’t quite reach the painful heights of hammer blows to the head, or others like a kick to the testes and papercuts, or even stubbing your toe, the flu or Rob Schneider movies, but it was somehow a strong awards and ratings contender and it was, admittedly, fun to rip on.

Please join us—Patches, Zach, Jeff and MegaMix—as we take a look back at this series, discussing the only season there was this month, in anticipation for the debatebly related premiere of the new 12-episode miniseries 24: Live Another Day in May 2014.

This month’s discussion is focused on Season 1 of 2.4 — sometimes referred to as Season 6 of 24 — which premiered in January of 2007.

It contains SPOILERS for the entire series of 2.4 and 24, as well as more strong language than usual. Parental discretion is advised. Discussion occurs in real time.

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Zach
This season sucks balls you didn’t even know existed.

When we (Patches, Jeff, MegaMix and myself) were discussing which seasons we wanted to take point on, I knew immediately which two needed to be mine: first, my favorite of ‘em all, S3; and second, the single most infuriating season of television I have ever had the misfortune of watching — this one. “Season 6.” Or as I have taken to calling it, Season 1 of that campy slapstick gem 2.4, a spinoff of 24 in which the world cares not for logic, and the writers are no longer bound to antiquated notions like consistency or motivation.

In this world, anything can happen — literally anything, even if it is in direct contradiction to established character traits. Family members of Jack Bauer can pop in and out of thin air and conveniently be mastermind terrorists. Morris O’Brian can be the most important person in the show. Episodes can be spent showing Jack’s ability to navigate the autism spectrum. Jack can overcome John-McCain-ian PTSD in about 10 minutes by killing one of his closest allies. The vice president can invoke the 25th amendment without anyone in the room having an opinion about whether or not this is a good idea. Singularly important White House staffers can disappear for an hour with a known terrorist hanging out with the president and no one thinks this needs further investigation. Lines like “it’s ACH-med!,” “Send medics to the basement I’m Mike Doyle,” “He was right all along and I… this is going to get much worse,” and “What are you smoking? // I’m here to blow away the smoke,” are said earnestly. A sitting president can give a sleepy speech calmly discussing that there was a nuclear attack on America.

Anything can happen, no matter how ridiculous. If you go into it with that mindset, it can actually be pretty fun to watch, in a Mystery Science Theater kind of way.

It’s hard to put into 800 words exactly what sucks most about this season. Continue reading