SHOOT FIRST, ASK QUESTIONS LATER: Since it's almost time to wrap things up for the season, I wanted to say a few words for two of the three shows (along with Parks & Recreation) to which I most look forward each week.
First, The Pacific. I freely admit that it's not as moving or as good as Band of Brothers, but maybe that's an impossibly high bar. I also think that the structure, with the rotating leads and the shore leave and hospital stay plunked right into the middle, made it impossible to build much momentum. Yet I still look forward to watching every week. Most of all, I think it's admirable that Spielberg and Hanks, who tend toward the overly sentimental, have essentially made a diptych that splits World War II culturally into two pieces: the European part, which inherits the tradition of war as a theater of picturesque horror enacted by stout men; and the Pacific part, which adopts a harsher view of war as a place where dehmumanized boys, disconcerted by complete unfamiliarity with their situation or surroundings and distrust of their superiors, treat victory as only the least bad of a set of unpromising strategies for survival. The European Theater is Hemingway and oil paint; the Pacific Theater is Vietnam and Norman Mailer and the grainy footage on the CBS Evening News.
Second, Justified is just bad-ass. It's not just that Marshal Givens is a crack shot and likes to tell his adversaries exactly what he's going to do (though I do like that). It's that despite all the gunplay, the show really revolves around its dialogue. Some of the characters speak plainly but entertainingly (like Givens, whose confident, matter-of-fact "it's going to take me a day or so to figure this all out" made me laugh last night), some colorfully (Chief Mullen), and some in layers upon layers of meaning (Boyd Crowder). Almost all of the dialogue, though, is crisp and intentioned. The talking is so central to the action that when the guns are used, they're often just in service of the talking -- holstering and brandishing as inflection. Olyphant is perfectly cast, of course -- I can't think of a more obvious choice for this role -- but the supporting cast, especially Nick Searcy as the beleaguered chief, Natalie Zea as Givens's equally capable ex-wife (Givens acknowledges her instincts and allows himself an appreciative chuckle when she absentmindedly loads a clip in the car), and Rick Gomez (BoB's Luz) as Givens's reciprocally respected D.A., are excellent. I'm not wild about the romance with Ava, who is far less interesting than Winona, but otherwise I have a hard time finding anything to fault with this show.