Wednesday, November 11, 2015

What We've Been Watching: Justified and Phil Rosenthal

I'll Have What Phil's Having

Phil Rosenthal, creator of Everyone Loves Raymond, takes a culinary of 6 cities around the world. This isn't a new idea. The Food Network thrives on it and Anthony Bourdain met mainstream America with such culinary sightseeing.

The difference here is Phil. He is a total nerd, but in the best, most lovable way. His enthusiasm is genuine and you can see why he has so many friends. When he looks at the camera with that intense, delighted gaze you wind up laughing in sympathy. And wanting to try all those restaurants he just visited.

We only saw the last of the 6-episode series, set in L.A., because I already was recording Castle in this show's time slot. (Off topic, Castle has finally hit their "we're done but don't know it yet" season. We'd kind of realized that but were still watching out of inertia.) Anyway, we kept forgetting to watch this show real time.

But what we saw made us eager to watch the rest of the series which is streaming on PBS.


Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens is reassigned to Eastern Kentucky after dispensing old style justice too publicly in Miami. The problem is that Raylan winds up in the childhood town he fled, hoping never to return. So in addition to the culture of poor, rural coal-mining towns, you've got some very interesting ghosts in Raylan's life.

We've slowly been sampling recommended shows and finding them lacking (Longmire - too predictable, like a 1970s cop show. Deadwood - so determined to be edgy that edge is all they've got; there's no one to genuinely care about.)

So I came to Justified with a certain amount of cynicism which just increased my delight at the excellent pilot. Smart dialogue, layered stories, multidimensional characters, and prodding the audience to make connections themselves. When I saw it was based on an Elmore Leonard story and that he was Executive Producer I understood why it was so good. That has held up through the first season. Every time we're surprised by the smart/stupid, bad/good characters who seem both cartoonish and realistic, I remind myself, "This is just like watching an Elmore Leonard short story."

It streams free on Amazon Prime.

1 comment:

  1. We *loved* Justified. Such a good show. And we've been watching Phil, too, and I always want what he's having.