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Viewing Notes: "Justified," "Cougar Town," More

By Rich Heldenfels Published: January 8, 2013

This is my second attempt at this post. The first was eaten by our system. As with so many problems in the world, I want to find a way to blame Nick Saban.

So here's how Monday night went at the House of Heldenfels: We turned on the BCS Championship at 8:30, with the DVR set for "Bunheads" at 9. But by 9, we had seen enough football for the night and went on to "Bunheads." Game was over.

It was nice to have "Bunheads" back, by the way, and the reconnecting to the last previous episode worked nicely. The girls got moments, the Fanny/Michelle relationship took another step, and there was good return-via-wedding-video of Alan Ruck. He was so important to setting the tone of the show, and then so hastily (if premise-reasonably) dispatched, that it was good to see him get another moment. Which, of course, he sold perfectly.

Turning to tonight's TV, "Justified" is back and I am happy with it. In fact, about 10 minutes into the first episode, I was grinning not only at what had been done but just the pleasure of watching the show do it. Raylan Givens, played by Timothy Olyphant, is such a perfect Elmore Leonard character: not as smart as he wants to be but smart enough for a crisis, and interesting outside of one. Over the course of the show, he has dealt with criminal masterminds, murderous sociopaths (one of whom is his father), risky women and a whole lot of guys who are more lethal than wise. There's more of the same in the new season, which begins with a long-ago incident that leads to a mystery in the present day, as well as to more bloodshed, some tricky new characters, and a lot of old ones, including the always fascinating Boyd Crowder, played by Walton Goggins. Enjoy.

"Cougar Town" makes the move from ABC to TBS, with allusions to same as it settles down to drinking, snappy talk and a rapid pace. I cannot say it is to my taste; there's something about "CT" mastermind Bill Lawrence's style that I end up admiring in a doing-my-homework way but not really loving. I wasn't all that excited by the much-praised "Scrubs," either. There's also the issue here of Courteney Cox's increasingly unsettling appearance; whatever she had done to herself, it wasn't good. That said, I enjoy watching Christa Miller, Busy Phillips and Ian Gomez make the most of the script, and this certainly looks and feels like the previous "Cougar Town."

In these rambles, I don't think I ever paid proper tribute to the conclusion of "Leverage," which not long ago aired an episode built to serve as either a season or series finale -- and proved to be the latter. The show was one of my pleasures, the cast and characters consistently enjoyable, the often light tone given weight by Timothy Hutton's graver, sorrow-tinged performance. I would have been happy to see it come back for more seasons. Barring that, TNT, could we hope for a reunion movie or two?


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