THE SHOW "Justified"
WHEN | WHERE Season premiere Tuesday night at 10 on FX.
WHAT IT'S ABOUT Serving time -- a very long time -- behind bars for a pair of murders, two-bit career con Arlo Givens (Raymond Barry) needs to sell his house, which he certainly won't need again. But there's something hidden in the wall of this now-abandoned home, which comes to the attention of his son, deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant).
It's a pouch, containing... well, that may giving too much away because this appears to be the core mystery of the fourth season, but I think we can say the "Dixie Mafia" may be involved.
This season, Raylan, about to become a daddy, gets a minor assist in his marshaling duties from a very earnest rent-a-cop, Constable Bob Sweeney (Patton Oswalt). Meanwhile, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) -- who notices that his illicit oxycodone sideline has dropped off because a newcomer to Harlan County, Preacher Billy (Joe Mazzello), is reforming all the sinners -- needs some help, too. He turns to old Army buddy Colton Rhodes (Ron Eldard) for that.
MY SAY Impending fatherhood hasn't mellowed Raylan, nor hard time Arlo, nor a brush or two with mortality (last season) Boyd. Character -- as the old saying goes -- is a long-standing habit, and their habits remain very much intact. The same could be could be said of "Justified," which reliably begins each season with a sort of head-clearing -- or headbanging -- exercise that jars us out of our midwinter torpor while serving as a reminder that Raylan Givens was, and very much remains, the coolest cop on TV.
Pity the moron miscreant who crosses him and who invariably does. But there are a couple of fun -- if that's the right word -- departures from form. First is Eldard's cheery hit man, Rhodes, who -- with long blond tresses -- looks like a younger and less-bloated version of Gerard Depardieu. Then there is Raylan's new wingman, Constable Bob, who's a cross between Buford T. Justice and Barney Fife -- three parts shrewd, two parts inept. Bleak and sometimes rare as it can be, humor is always a welcome element in "Justified," especially Tuesday night.
BOTTOM LINE Very entertaining start to the fourth season.