First of all, let me start by saying I'm really not a television watcher. With the exception of Red Sox games and Dr. Who (which are both family bonding rituals), I might watch an hour or two of TV a week.
For the most part, I find that TV shows take the easy way out. Characters and plot seem like just a collection of cliches to me. As if the writers take all the convenient shortcuts so the viewer doesn't really need to be engaged in the story telling or meaning making.
(And yes, I'm hell in movies too. I frequently predict the endings, which drives my husband and children insane. I've had to learn just to shut up.)
When my husband is watching TV in the evenings, I'll often sit with him, reading or writing in a parallel play mode. He channel flipped to a cable show called "Justified," in the middle of an episode, in the middle of a season.
It didn't matter.
I got hooked.
It's a show about a US Marshal being reassigned to his small town Kentucky home after a mob shooting in his prior posting. The character of the Marshal, Raylan Givens, is based on a character by Elmore Leonard and is played with nuance and grace (not to mention sex appeal!) by Timothy Olyphant.
I don't really read Leonard's genre--westerns and crime thrillers--but something about this show is utterly compelling.
The characterization is solid. The characters' motivations influence every plot turn and decision. The dialogue is crisp, without a wasted word or gesture. The plot turns are fresh. They are neither predictable nor random.
Last night was the season finale and I have to admit that I was utterly engrossed and emotionally invested in the story and its characters. The fast that it *was* a story faded into the background and I was entranced.
It's been a long time since I've been able just to be absorbed in such seamless story telling.
Kudos to Justified and I can't wait until next season.