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TV Goodness All-Star 2010: Timothy Olyphant, Justified

As we close out the year, TV Goodness is taking the time to give a nod to our Rock Stars of 2010. We had a hodgepodge of new shows across every genre, but the trifecta of sci-fi, character dramas, and action-based dramedies was where my bread was buttered this year. If you read my reviews (thank you!), this isn’t a surprise. My 2010 All-Stars shouldn’t be much of one, either. I give you the first of the top five talents who gave me a happy this year, in no particular order.

Timothy Olyphant

Photo Credit: FX Networks

I knew Olyphant from film—back to Doug Liman’s Go. He was the best thing about Bruce Willis’ return to the bank in Die Hard 3, I will admit to sitting through Hitman for him, and he made the otherwise cringey Catch and Release watchable. Although I had sporadically caught his turn as Seth Bullock on Deadwood and knew he was wasted on Damages, I had an inkling, but no real clue, about what he would do with Elmore Leonard’s wonderfully deadpan—and deadly—maligned, divorced, alcoholic U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens. What he did was bring it, hard, and sell the hell out of deeply wounded man still trying to do the right thing despite the shitstorm of his upbringing, which he lands right back in the middle of when a case that goes south in Florida sends him back into the middle of domestic warfare in the backwoods of Kentucky.

The job and his family are just part of the puzzle. There’s also his ex-wife (against his will), the now unhappily-remarried Winona, and Ava, a childhood near-sweetheart who makes her move pretty much immediately after she ventilates her deadbeat abusive husband with the business end of a shotgun at the dinner table. Olyphant sells it in Raylan’s swagger, smiles, and most definitely, silences. Raylan may not know what the hell his next move is, but Olyphant never lets him show that, because in the world of Justified, having a tell can get you killed. You can buy the season 1 DVDs next month and catch up before season two launches.

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