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T.V. That Matters

By Matt Ern, Columnist

Justified- "Harlan Roulette"

B+

 

This season of Justified hit the ground running and already features numerous villains all scrambling to take control of Harlan County after the events of last season.  Boyd wants to expand the Crowder family business and the first step in his plan is to get Johnny's bar back.  Quarles, the new head of the Dixie Mafia, is planning to turn Harlan into a "pill-mill" that will allow him to ship oxy to Detroit and turn a huge profit. A pawn shop dealer named Vogel is running oxy in Harlan for Quarles, but two of his men have a run in with the law.  And that's where everyone's favorite cowboy Raylan Givens

comes in. 

 

Raylan may be relegated to the "case-of-the-week" storyline here, but he still gets plenty of great moments.  Particularly the way he turns around Wade Messer's ambush.  Raylan's confrontation with Quarles in the final minutes promises some good action to come.

 

But despite all this action surrounding Boyd and Quarles, Justified still has plenty of other villains waiting in the wing for their shot at control of Harlan.  There's Ellstin Limehouse who was introduced last week threatening to burn and deform an underlings hand for failing to complete a task.  And then there's Dickie Bennett whose continued presence on the show is a real treat, even if he is in prison. 

 

Every season Justified fleshes out the criminal underworld of Harlan County a little more and the show gets a whole lot better.  If the first few episodes of the new season are any indication, this year Justified can give the likes of Mad Men and Breaking Bad a run for their money.   

 

 

Matt Ern

30 Rock- "Idiots are People Three!"

B

 

Last week's 30 Rock was the conclusion of a two part episode that attempted to address inflammatory remarks Tracy Morgan made last summer about the gay community.  Part two saw a slight dip in quality from the previous week but it was still a solid episode of what's become one of the mainstays of NBC's Thursday night comedy block.  

 

After Liz attempts to explain the fictional Tracy's hateful remarks by saying he's just an idiot, Tracy leads a protest of NBC in the name of idiots everywhere.  The idea of idiots as another marginalized group was sort of funny at first, but the joke started to lag having been spread across two episodes.  Of course, Tracy's remarks on the show were much less hateful than what he said in real life; and the idea that Tina Fey writes them off as the ranting of an idiot may not sit well with everyone.  

 

 Meanwhile Jack is left to contend with the return of his nemesis, Devon Banks (played by the always welcome Will Arnett).  Any episode with Banks is usually going to be good, and he doesn't disappoint here as he manipulates Jack into pulling strings to get his "gaybies" into a prestigious private school.      

 

In an incredibly bizarre C-story, Jenna and Kenneth almost kill Pete by exposing him to harmful mercury gas and enlist Kelsey Grammer to help them clean up their mess, because of course they do.   The storyline culminates in Grammer putting on a one man show about Abraham Lincoln to cause a diversion, which is pretty spectacular. 

 

While it wasn't 30 Rock's strongest episode, the show still has some life in it and will probably continue to be at least marginally funny for a few more years.  Of course, it might just go the route of The Office and continue on for two seasons too long.    

 

Armchair Observations: A Humor Column

Pride drops first place showdown to Delaware