The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Justified Appreciation

What is the greatest audible in television history?

What writer/director/actor just took the script, threw it away, and made a good show great? This is a serious question, because I don’t know most of the stories behind shows. But I do know the story behind Justified, and it’s the great audible I know of. Justified has a mere two episodes left until it disappears from the air, and has been one of my two spring-time shows for the last few years.

Why? Justified’s writers understand, deep in their marrow, two things:

  • Gunfights (explosions, etc) don’t create tension. Waiting for the inevitable gunfight creates tension.
  • The world needs more Elmore “God-damn” Leonard (who sadly died last year). The man could write, and this shows has roughly one great line per act.

There’s also comic relief, will-they-or-won’t-they, great actors (Character Actress Margo Martindale’s Emmy) criminals ranging from “eternal survivor” to “brilliant mastermind” to “crazy psychopath” to the (frequent) “average stupid guy who can’t stay out of jail.”

And Justified, to my knowledge, has the greatest audible in TV history … not killing Walton Goggins in the pilot, but keeping his character (Boyd Crowder) as the frenemy and dark mirror to Timothy Olyphant’s Raylan Givens. I’d never seen Goggins before, but I went back to watch The Shield (the other major show he’s been in). Goggins is good, but Boyd commands the screen — the articulate hillbilly former preacher with neo-nazi tattoos whose love of explosives took him from the mines to the army and back to crime.

Dear Lord, before we eat this meal, we ask forgiveness for our sins. Especially Boyd, who blew up a black church with a rocket launcher, and afterwards he shot his associate Jared Hale in the back of the head out on Tate’s Creek Bridge. Let the image of Jared’s brain matter on that windshield not dampen our appetites, but may the knowledge of Boyd’s past sins help guide these men. May this food provide them with all the nourishment they need. But if it does not, may they find comfort in knowing that the United States Marshal Service is offering fifty thousand dollars to any individual providing information that will put Boyd back in prison. Cash or check, we can make it out to them, or to Jesus, whoever they want. In your name, we pray. Amen. — Raylan Givens


Written by taogaming

April 3, 2015 at 7:12 pm

Posted in TV & Media

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7 Responses

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  1. “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”
    Al Michaels

    And yeah, I know that wasn’t what you were looking for.


    April 3, 2015 at 11:35 pm

    • Unrelated, indeed. But The 30-for-30 on the Russian Hockey Team (“Of Miracles and Men”) was a great show, though.


      April 5, 2015 at 7:55 pm

  2. Certainly there are many shows where a minor, or guest, character becomes a lead. The most Boyd-like example I can think of is Julianna Margulies who was supposed to die by suicide in the ER pilot, but was saved before filming the 2nd episode and became a co-lead for many seasons. That said, Boyd’s importance to the show is so immense I can’t think of a parallel.

    Lou W

    April 4, 2015 at 8:08 am

    • Another example is Henry Winkler’s The Fonz, who started as a minor character, but wound up as the lead after Ron Howard left Happy Days.


      April 5, 2015 at 10:00 pm

  3. Jack on Lost was meant to die in the pilot, but became the protagonist (essentially).


    April 6, 2015 at 2:13 am

  4. Supposedly Breaking Bad originally planned to kill off Jesse in the first season.

    Replacing Sinclair on B5 was a good move, although JMS said he had contingency plans for all of the main actors. I don’t know if you would count that as an audible in the same way.

    Mark Delano

    April 8, 2015 at 9:43 am

    • I wouldn’t count B5 as an audible …. although Jesse is a big one


      April 8, 2015 at 4:50 pm

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