American TV (2nd Tuesday of January 2014): Justified 5.2 and True Detective

Self has decided that she will do weekly updates of Justified.  She wasn’t very good about doing that, the last two seasons, but her interest has returned, along with a whole fresh cast of villains and teases — Michael Rapaport, Amy Smart, Alicia Witt.

Last week’s episode, the season opener, began with the trial of dim Dewey Crowe. The defending lawyer was a blonde, no-nonsense woman, plain as day which was great because self would never have believed the scene if the lawyer had been even the least bit attractive. We see Raylan on the witness stand, looking devilishly handsome (even without the Stetson).  Self can’t resist:  Raylan on the witness stand is like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day (cue background music)

Self will never forget the lines:  “300 stands for $300,000 to be awarded to you.  Do you accept?” Dewey Crowe, who was in the midst of lodging a protest, collapses on a seat, mouth open.  The judge intones “I’ll take that as a yes” and bangs his gavel.  End of scene.

BWAH. HA. HA. HAAAA!

Episode 5.1 introduced us to a new form of hillbilly:  Michael Rapaport, very beefed up.  He has a fetching sister (played by Alicia Witt) named Wendy, who’s a legal assistant (This is not the same as being a lawyer, just so you know).  There are a whole lot of murders and blood spatter.  No Jacob Pitts or Erika Taziel, boo.  But the return of Nick Searcy as Raylan’s sardonic boss was reason enough to cheer.

As self watched Episode 5.2, last night, she had very many thoughts about the series hero (Michael Rapaport was MIA until the very last minutes of this episode).  For instance, this weighty observation:

Timothy Olyphant looks so good in distressed blue jeans.  His stance, his physique — just tailor-made for low-slung Levis.  You skateboarding teen-agers with the beanies, you oh-so-cool denizens of high schools and shopping malls, you have nothing on Olyphant. Seriously, someone ought to bottle this man’s mojo and ship overseas with every pair of American jeans. It might just succeed in balancing the trade deficit or in wiping out the national debt.

Next:

Even when he is not opening his mouth, and is just staring into space (while driving, say), he needs no dialogue.  Oh beautiful.  Just keep looking at that face for 50 minutes.  Forget plot, forget who’s trying to off who, forget his low-life BFF Boyd Crowder.  That’s an American icon, right there!

Last night’s episode had brief appearances of Jacob Pitt and Erika Taziel, doing practically nothing.  At least there was more of Art.  He was exhibiting a new form of acquired behavior: bouncing a small black rubber ball on his desktop.  Art doesn’t really need such a behavioral prop.  Of course, it is nice to know that he is manually dexterous and can multi-task.  But self hated that instead of fully committing herself to observing every aspect of Nick Searcy’s delivery, her eyes were kept on that little bouncing ball.  She couldn’t help wondering if it were some kind of loaded gun, to be exploded in a later episode.  Of course, it could really be just a prop.  With absolutely no symbolism whatsoever.

Last night featured the return of another of her favorite characters:  Loretta!  The heart-faced pot dealer.  Self was quite in a tizzy wondering what trouble she’d get up to next.  Raylan is so fatherly with her.  Sweet.

Self is so glad for AMY SMART!  That girl has some serious charisma.  Banish Winona and never bring her back!

Last night’s episode featured almost NO killings.  She wondered why it was moving so slowly.  But every time the script went back to Raylan, the energy of the show increased by a mile.  She wonders what the deal is with that man who’s got all the tubes going in and out, the one with the pretty brunette wife who seems to have some thing going on for Boyd Crowder (Ava’s in jail, how convenient).  Or perhaps self is just imagining the whole frisson.

When Wynn Duffy confronts a roomful of very skanky-looking men, to explain why their drug shipments will be delayed, self kept waiting for an explosion, especially after a dude gets up to complain. He’s just your average low-life. Perfect for elimination.  Not, in other words, a recurring character.  But Wynn did not shoot him for his loud-mouthed ways.  Instead, Boyd walks in, and — get this — the protesting man actually has a name.  It’s “Cyrus.”  At least, that’s what Boyd calls him.  Oh.  So that’s why he wasn’t off-ed.  Yet.

Stay tuned for more Raylan next week.

Self will now turn to the new HBO show, “True Detective.”  This one had her agog for quite a while, ever since she found out it stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.  McConaughey and Harrelson are a dream match-up, almost as dreamy as di Caprio and Jonah Hill.  About the episode (which may have been the first):

McConaughey is so thin. A far cry from his Magic Mike appearance.

There is a dinner scene: McConaughey is the guest at Harrelson’s home.  He sits there with red eyes, looking completely wasted.  It’s a little bizarre.

The story is apparently one of these circular tales that keep switching back and forth between the present and the past.  In the present, Woody Harrelson has settled into being an honest-to-goodness suit, and McConaughey has gone off the deep end or something.  We know this because Harrelson tells his interrogators (who are videotaping the session, so we know it must be very very serious) he’s not been in touch with McConaughey’s character for about 10 years.  And when we finally get to see present-day McConaughey, he has very long stringy grey hair and appears even more gaunt:  this has got to be one of the most entertaining “spring-forward-in-time” scenarios ever.  The hair!  Or, rather, the anti-mane!  It’s like someone draped McConaughey’s head with rat tails.

The murder victim — oh, shoot.  If only self had had time to look away.  But no.  One minute we are observing the very considerable acting chops of the two leads.  The next, we see this human body strung between two trees, draped with antlers.  There’s a rubbed-out section of the torso.  OK, was that the place where . . .  gulp.  Never mind.

“True Detective” has gotten mostly good reviews.  It was a little plodding, but she always enjoys Harrelson and McConaughey.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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