Justified hits the FX bullseyes -- however many of them they might be.
"It's hard to hit both targets," FX chief John Landgraf told TV critics Tuesday morning at their summer meeting, and then he listed three. "We're always trying to make very commercial, very entertaining, very popular shows," he said. (That's one target.)
"We try to take familiar genres and treat them very differently, with our own style." (That's another.) "Justified is our try to do a Western," Landgraf said, ticking off Western heroes from Gary Cooper to John Wayne. "We want to deconstruct that hero over time."
Based on a character created by Elmore Leonard, Justified stars Timothy Olyphant as a decidedly unheroic U.S. marshal working in the back hollows of Kentucky (that's sure a different spot to shoot a Western), with a delightful cast of low-life criminals. Olyphant is just super with his big white hat and distinctively self-assured gait.
"A lot of people really got what we were trying to do," Landgraf said. "It got the best premiere numbers we've ever done and held beautifully throughout the season."
And the show, like so much of the fare on FX, was embraced not only by the audience but by critics (third target), most of whom can't stop raving about the series.
More and more movie stars are gravitating to TV, Landgraf said, as he told the story of going to Glenn Close's apartment in New York several years and trying to persuade her to take a part in FX's first big success, The Shield. "It was like going to Mt. Olympus and meeting with another kind of being. ... Glenn had never seen The Shield, never even heard of FX.
"It's just totally different now," Landgraf said. "I think it has become almost a status symbol for an actor to have a cable show." The "mid-priced drama, adult film with ambitious, nuanced, defined roles for characters ... has really almost disappeared. ... A lot of movies stars today find themselves in front of a green screen, in a latex suit with guy wires, learning how to do karate."