Justified, one of the best shows on television, should find a wider Canadian audience now that it's available on basic cable

Fans of author Elmore Leonard are familiar with Raylan Givens, the slow-talking, fast-drawing U.S. Marshal who’s appeared in several of his best-selling crime novels.

The uninitiated, however, are in for a treat when they meet the laconic lawman in Justified, the critically acclaimed, Peabody Award-winning FX series that makes its basic-cable Canadian debut this week (the premiere aired on Sunday, March 18).

Although the show is currently in its third season in the U.S., Justified hasn’t been widely available to watch in Canada until now, which is great news for viewers seeking out quality TV.

Breaking Down Justified

Portrayed by Deadwood’s Timothy Olyphant (who, let’s face it, is one of those guys who just looks good in a cowboy hat), Givens is an Old West lawman in a 21st-century world, who’d rather talk things out than fire his gun but won’t hesitate to pull the trigger.

When his involvement in a Miami shootout becomes a PR nightmare, Givens’ superiors send him back to his rural hometown in Harlan County, Kentucky, where the drink of choice is home-brewed bourbon and the so-called Dixie Mafia puts a Southern-fried spin on organized crime.

Upon his return, Givens reignites a relationship with his ex-wife (Natalie Zea of Dirty Sexy Money) and encounters former high-school friend/rival Boyd Crowder (The Shield’s Walton Goggins). Since they last saw each other, Crowder has become a Swastika-festooned white supremacist and notorious bank robber, so it’s a pretty safe bet the reunion between these two won’t be over a beer. As the series plays out, however, the lines between cop and criminal blur, and this complicated, unpredictable relationship becomes the engine that drives the show.

Adaptations of Leonard’s work have run the gamut from brilliant (Get Shorty, 3:10 to Yuma, Out of Sight) to dismal (The Big Bounce, Be Cool), but show-runner Graham Yost (the brilliant-but-cancelled Boomtown) does a pitch-perfect job of translating the novelist’s gift for wry dialogue and colourful characters to the small screen.

Simply put, Justified is television at its best and brightest — and gets even better in season two. Do yourself a favour and check it out.

When to Watch: Justified airs Sunday nights at 10 pm on Showcase.

Originally published in TVW. For daily programming updates and on-screen Entertainment news, subscribe to the free TVW e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.