I had to miss the launch of the fifth season of the FX series Justified, but you can be sure that I have since caught up and am again riveted to the adventures of Raylan Givens (played by Timothy Olyphant) and Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins), and the rest of the Kentucky lawmen and outlaws.
It’s going to be another great season.
But what I missed by not seeing Justified in real time was the brief tribute to the late novelist Elmore Leonard, whose short story, "Fire in the Hole," inspired the series.
The 90-second tribute was part of a longer piece that will eventually be part of the Season 5 DVD and include interviews with cast members and others who worked with Leonard, plus readings from his novels.
Justified is so very much in keeping with Leonard’s novels—stories with crisp dialogue, a blurring between the good guys and bad guys and a sense that these are real people that we are ease dropping on.
Leonard had many fans among those who worked on Justified, including series creator Graham Yost. The Detroit Free Press wrote last week that Yost made “WWED (What Would Elmore Do) the guidepost for the writers."
In the same interview, the newspaper quoted Yost, “There's an old saw that you should never meet your heroes, and that applies, but not in Elmore's case. He was just fun to hang out with and had a great attitude about life and work and writing,” said Yost, adding in the same newspaper article that this year, “There's a certain degree that there's a switchover from ‘We hope Elmore likes this episode’ to ‘This is in memory of Elmore.’ We hope that... we're, in his memory, doing the best we can to make him happy.”
In the same article, the Free Press interviewed Olyphant: “What I was always aware of was the tone, the humor, the ease with which he told stories or made jokes without acknowledging them. He just had the timing. He was not unlike his books.”
Leonard, who died Aug. 20, 2013, at age 87, left behind a legacy of more than 45 novels that appealed to readers of many generations.
When a director and screenwriter respected his novels, Leonard’s work translated well to the movie screen, including Jackie Brown (based on Rum Punch), Get Shorty, Be Cool, Out of Sight, Hombre, and Joe Kidd.
But for many of us, Leonard’s novels were what we most gravitated toward.
Now we have a year in which we will not have a novel by the master. It just doesn’t seem justified.
Justified airs at 10 p.m. Tuesdays on the FX Channel with frequent encores.
Photos: Top, Elmore Leonard; center, Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) and Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant).