When “Justified” is on top of its game, as it was Tuesday night, it can have something like a half-dozen plates spinning without missing a beat. In “Harlan Roulette,” we got to see the seedy side of a pawn shop wrapped up in things that aren’t exactly legal. We watched as Boyd Crowder dealt with Limehouse, then took back the family bar. We spent a little time with Dickie Bennett in jail. We followed Quarles and Wynn Duffy as they hatched their scheme to turn Harlan into the new oxy capital of the world. We checked in on Raylan and Winona’s hunt for a house. And, finally, we watched Raylan try to connect all of these dots, catching up to the pawn shop owner just in time to have him and a subordinate kill each other.
One of the things that’s so great about “Justified” is that everybody on the show behaves like a real person would if confronted with their own potential death. Take Dickie Bennett, for instance. Now, Dickie’s never been the sharpest crayon in the box, but once Boyd Crowder shows up at the same prison as him, he starts scrambling to keep himself safe. What makes this fun is that Boyd is quite a bit smarter than Dickie, and at least two times wilier. That makes for scenes where Dickie gets himself locked up in solitary, clearly thinking he’ll be safer there, only for Boyd to figure out a way to get down there as well, bribe a guard, and get in to see Dickie to get the information he needs. And he does this all with a time limit hanging over his head!
Until the final scene of the third-season premiere of “Justified,” I thought the episode was perhaps a touch too jumpy. It was working so hard to introduce characters, deal with the fallout from the end of Season 2, and catch us up with where the characters are three weeks after the end of that season that it occasionally felt a little breathless. And then Boyd Crowder strolled down the hall of the local prison, big grin on his face, and everything snapped into place. Man, it’s nice to have this show back.
Some of the sharpest lines of 2011 came from scripted and unscripted TV shows as varied as "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" to "Breaking Bad." They were funny, hurtful, sinister...and utterly entertaining.
"I am not in danger, Skyler, I am the danger... I am the one who knocks!"
-- "Breaking Bad's" Walter White (Bryan Cranston) to his wife Skyler (Anna Gunn) after she tells him she's fearful that a hitman will come to their house and kill him.
"No one will probably care about you. Let's be honest."
-- "Keeping Up with the Kardashians'" Kris Humphries to fiance Kim Kardashian during an argument when she protests that moving from Hollywood to his native Minnesota after they start having children will damage her career.
"It was already in the glass. Not in the jar."
-- "Justified's" Mags Bennett (Margo Martindale) to a man she's poisoned with the "apple pie" moonshine she's poured into his glass from a large jar
"The things I do for love."
-- "Game of Thrones" Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) to his sister Queen Cersei as she shoves young Bran Stark out of a high window in an abandoned tower after the boy spots the siblings having sex.
"You look really familiar."
-- Ray Romano's character to Patricia Heaton's Frankie in "The Middle" when he spots his former "Everybody Loves Raymond" co-star during a camping trip.
"Wow, you're on fire tonight. What are you closing with--blackface?"
-- "Whitney's" Alex (Chris D'Elia) to his girlfriend Whitney (Whitney Cummings) after she commits a rash of disastrous missteps at a classy wedding
"A comedian can spend his whole life digging through the comedy mines for sound bites he can use to sustain his family. Sometimes a fellow can lose hope, and then Rick Perry gives you 53 seconds that can change a man's life. Oh lordy, I give you this thing I found...the Dope Diamond!"
--Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" on the infamous moment in a Republican presidential debate when Texas Gov. Rick Perry forgot the third agency he would ban from government, below
What are yourTV favorite quotes of the year? Let us know in the comments.
-- Greg Braxton
Adultery is nothing new on television, but the proliferation of cheating as a plot point is making prime-time TV look like an ad for Ashley Madison, the online dating service for married folks, where the message is, "Life is short. Have an affair."
On "Homeland," the Iraq War hero turned secret terrorist falls into a reckless affair. Central characters on "The Good Wife," "Revenge," "Boss," "Ringer," "Nurse Jackie," "Justified" and even "The Walking Dead" engage in infidelity.
Cynicism about marriage is one of the factors leading to an increased depiction of adultery. "People believe marriages don't work anyway, so seeing affairs on TV kind of serves as a model for how things can and will go bad," said Julie Albright, a sociologist at USC.
But showrunners insisted they don't treat the topic lightly. Liz Brixius, creator of "Nurse Jackie," said of her cheating heroine: "We've never used cheating to be juicy. We use it to show Jackie's living a double life and making terrible decisions."
Brixius and her team had to assure Showtime and producer Lionsgate that Jackie would, indeed, get her comeuppance in the new season this spring. "It was not an easy sell for us to have Jackie continue to skate by without suffering for what she'd done."
There's more on TV adultery in this feature.
For all the shows that premiered this fall, it was not a stellar season. Fortunately, the television landscape has many datelines, so, taken overall, it was a very good year. And here’s why:
“Game of Thrones”: HBO proved that nothing beats epic fantasy when it’s rooted in good story and great performances, which this show most definitely is. No doubt the dragons will be fun too, but with Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion and Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys, even dragons are just icing.
Margo Martindale on “Justified”: FX’s lyrical, Elmore Leonard-inspired drama about a U.S. marshal returning to his hometown to clean up a few messes took on epic and revolutionary proportions when creator Graham Yost introduced Mags Bennett (Martindale), a back-country mob boss the likes of which have never been seen. Martindale rightly won an Emmy for her astonishing performance, but it would have been better if she had won another season — for reasons that confound me, Yost chose to kill off Mags in the season finale. I may forgive him; I haven’t yet.
“Downton Abbey”: Julian Fellowes crossed “Upstairs, Downstairs” with his own “Gosford Park” to herald a new and glorious age of PBS period drama.
“Homeland”: Wrangling Claire Danes and Damian Lewis as two of the most complicated characters on television (not to mention the ever-mercurial Mandy Patinkin), Howard Gordon and some of his “24” team turned an Israeli hit into the first show to successfully mirror midwar America.
Al Jazeera: During this year’s rebellions in the Mideast, Americans found themselves glued to their laptops to watch on-the-ground coverage from Al Jazeera English. For a time, many lobbied to find it a permanent American home, which would be a very good thing.
Ted Danson in “Bored to Death” and “CSI”: It’s difficult to imagine another actor who could juggle the quaint-ish HBO comedy and the CBS behemoth at all, let alone with such agility. I am not a huge fan of either show but watch both for the pleasure of seeing a man so utterly in control of his craft.
AMC and “The Killing”: Veena Sud’s murder-mystery stumbled as it soared, and outraged fans and nonfans alike with its non-finale season finale. But around here, we give points for trying, and AMC continues to do just that, accepting its failures (“The Prisoner”) as down payment for its successes (“The Walking Dead”). Sud took on TV’s most popular and predictable genre and, for better and worse, made it her own. Also Mireille Enos is now officially a star, and that has to count for something.
“Parks and Recreation” and “The Middle”: Two wonderful shows that have been living in the shadows of “The Office” and “Modern Family,” respectively, finally seem to be getting the recognition they deserve.
“Louie”: Louie C.K.’s angsty, semiautobiographical FX comedy defines adult comedy — outrageous, sentimental, big-hearted, brave and true. And that duckling-in-Afghanistan episode just about killed me.
Having recently endured, through circumstances beyond my control, back-to-back viewings of “Jack and Jill” and the latest “Twilight” movie, I cannot bring myself to use the word “worst” in connection with anything I have seen on television this year. But here are a few of the biggest disappointments (none of which, I am happy to add, involved Al Pacino).
OWN: I’m not certain what I expected from the new Oprah Winfrey Network, but I know it was more than a bunch of whiny reality series. When Rosie O’Donnell is your biggest draw, things are not up to the Oprah standard.
And the cable networks’ coverage of the jumpy Dow. Look, here we all are, alive and well, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse nowhere in sight, despite all the rumors to the contrary during that horrible week in August when the Dow bounced around and all the business pundits seriously lost their minds. Did none of you ever hear about Orson Welles and his “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast?
For more, here's an essay on TV in 2011.
— Mary McNamara
Photo: Jason Momoa and Emilia Clarke in "Game of Thrones. Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO.
Melissa McCarthy of "Mike and Molly" and the Showtime drama "Homeland" were among the huge raves of the TV season, but both were surprisingly among the missing when the TV nominees for the 18th Screen Actors Guild Awards were announced.
McCarthy scored an upset in September when she won an Emmy for lead actress in a comedy series for the CBS sitcom, but on Wednesday she was left out of SAG Awards' outstanding performance by a female actor in a comedy series category (though she did get a movie nod for "Bridesmaids"). Those nominees include Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara ("Modern Family"), Edie Falco ("Nurse Jackie"), Tina Fey ("30 Rock") and Betty White ("Hot in Cleveland").
Other prominent actresses that were omitted included Amy Poehler ("Parks and Recreation"), Zooey Deschanel ("New Girl"), Laura Linney ("The Big C"), Laura Dern ("Enlightened") and Christina Applegate ("Up All Night").
Meanwhile, Ed O'Neill and Jesse Tyler Ferguson were the only adult cast members of "Modern Family" who did not score an individual SAG nod. In addition to Bowen's and Vergara's nods, Eric Stonestreet and Ty Burrell were nominated for outstanding performance by a male actor in a comedy series. O'Neill and Ferguson were included in the comedy ensemble nomination for "Modern Family."
Also missing among major actors in the comedy categories were Jim Parsons ("The Big Bang Theory"), Neil Patrick Harris ("How I Met Your Mother") and Louis C.K. ("Louie").
"Homeland," starring Claire Danes ("Temple Grandin"), Damian Lewis and Mandy Patinkin, has been one of the critical highlights of the season, but the show and its performers were left out of the nominations.
A major surprise in the drama category was the nomination of Patrick J. Adams in USA's "Suits." Lewis beat out more well-known performers, such as Hugh Laurie ("House") and Kelsey Grammer ("Boss").
Who do you think should have been nominated? Vote in the poll below or let us know in the comments.
-- Greg Braxton
Photo: Damien Lewis and Claire Danes in "Homeland." Credit: Kent Smith / Showtime
Margo Martindale feels justified. More accurately, she feels satisfied.
“I’ve been doing it a long time,” said the actress, clutching her supporting actress Emmy Award for her turn on the FX series "Justified." “The great thing about time is you can really appreciate it so much more. I could not have appreciated anything like this had I been 30 -- at 60 it feels ... I’m deeply grateful to be recognized. It’s an honor.”
Backstage at the ceremony she was still blushing, looking rosy head to toe in a sparkling red dress. And she didn’t hold back her feelings. “I’m thrilled. I’m on cloud nine. I’m outta my body. It’s just been a joyous year and a joyous ride.”
But, alas, all good things must come to an end; like Martindale’s character on "Justified." “I loved working with these actors -– it was just a perfect fit for me. Unfortunately, it’s in the past –- they killed me off,” she said. Then she smirked, devilishly: “Maybe they’ll regret it.”
Martindale said she didn’t quite see her character’s demise coming. “They seemed so happy with what I was doing, I thought I would live. Silly me!” But Martindale has come to terms with what happened. “It was a poetic and perfect ending for that character, however,” she said.
-- Deborah Vankin
Photo: Margo Martindale backstage at the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards. Credit: Paul Buck / EPA
We're just hours away from TV's biggest night. Soon stars will be making their way down the red carpet for the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards.
Before checking out the red carpet coverage, check out the last set of videos from our Emmy Roundtable, which gathered first-time nominees Josh Charles ("The Good Wife"), Johnny Galecki ("The Big Bang Theory"), Michelle Forbes ("The Killing") and Walton Goggins ("Justified").
In the first video, Charles discusses playing a multi-layered character on television. In "The Good Wife," Charles stars as Will Gardner, a cunning attorney who is "everything. He's good and bad. He's a flawed, complex human being. ... I like open-ended things. I'm not interested in having it all figured out."
While the actors who participated in our discussion provided thoughtful insight into their performances and the nature of acting, they're fans too. Among those Goggins is excited to encounter tonight: Ty Burrell and Jon Stewart.
Video credit: Jason Neubert / Los Angeles Times
To help you kill the time, we gathered some of the first-time nominees -- Johnny Galecki ("The Big Bang Theory"), Michelle Forbes ("The Killing"), Josh Charles ("The Good Wife") and Walton Goggins ("Justified") -- recently to discuss everything from the joys of the nomination to what intrigued them about the roles they play.
In the videos below, Forbes discusses the controversial finale of AMC's drama and the grim-nature of the show and Walton Goggins, in the second video, reveals what he wanted for his character Boyd.
Photo: Michelle Forbes. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times.
It's a small world. For actors, the world is even tinier.
So it makes sense the group of first-time nominees we gathered to take part in an Emmys roundtable -- Michelle Forbes ("The Killing"), Josh Charles ("The Good Wife"), Johnny Galecki ("The Big Bang Theory") and Walton Goggins ("Justfied") -- have a bit of history among them.
Galecki is the godfather of Goggins' son and Charles and Forbes worked together in the HBO drama "In Treatment." And the connections don't end there. Charles' costar on CBS' "The Good Wife," Christina Baranski, has appeared on Galecki's "The Big Bang Theory" as Sheldon's mother.
"The next thing I do, my character will be named Galecki or I won't do it," Goggins joked. (For more, see the video below)
The roundtable was moderated by Los Angeles Times TV critic Mary McNamara last week in anticipation of Sunday's 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards. Goggins and Charles are nominated in the supporting actor in a drama category. Forbes is up for supporting actress in a drama category. Galecki received his first Emmy nomination for lead actor in a comedy.
Showtracker will post additional clips from the gathering so check back for more.
-- Yvonne Villarreal
Photo: Emmy nominees, Walton Goggins, left, Johnny Galecki, Josh Charles and Michelle Forbes. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times
The continuing lack of diversity in prime-time television was highlighted with the release of a Directors Guild of America survey that cites a troubling trend in the hiring of minority and female directors.
The survey conducted by the DGA of more than 2,600 episodes of 170 scripted series on broadcast and cable during the 2010-11 season found that white males directed 77% of all episodes, and white females directed 11% of all episodes. Minority males directed 11% of all episodes, and minority females directed 1% of all episodes.
Leaders of the guild, which has traditionally pushed for more inclusion of women and minorities, expressed disappointment with the findings, which show little change from a similar survey of the 2009-2010 season.
As Company Town notes, Nine shows singled out by the DGA as shutting out minority and female directors include HBO's "Bored to Death," Showtime's "Weeds" and FX's "Justified." Sixteen other shows hired women and minorities for fewer than 15% percent of episodes.
The survey comes a few weeks after the revelation of claims by advocates who say there are indications that NBCUniversal, which pledged to increase diversity in front of and behind the camera, has fallen short of those pledges that were made during the process of merging NBCUniversal and Comcast.
-- Greg Braxton
Photo: Zach Galifianakis and Jason Schwartzman in HBO's "Bored To Death," one of the series cited by the Directors Guild of America as hiring no minority or female directors. Credit: Paul Schiraldi