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The Televisionist, March 25


'JUSTIFIED': Timothy Olyphant stars.
  • 'JUSTIFIED': Timothy Olyphant stars.

9 p.m. Sundays

Here's the scenario: What if you knew you only had a few months to live, that your treatment was likely to be both horrendously expensive and completely futile, and that you would leave your family in crushing debt when you were gone? Let's add another wrinkle: What if you had a way to both pay your medical bills and get your family financially set for life? Another: What if that way was illegal? Those are just a few of the choices faced by high school chemistry teacher Walter White (the superb Bryan Cranston) in the knockout AMC series “Breaking Bad” — back now with new episodes for the third season. When firmly middle class Walt is diagnosed with cancer and faces leaving his wife, disabled son and newborn daughter in poverty, he uses his knowledge of chemistry to cook some of the finest crystal meth ever seen, then sells it with the help of his burnout former student Jesse Pinkson (Aaron Paul). Last season, Walt (by then a half-million dollars to the better thanks to some dealings with a shady lawyer and Mexican mobsters) learned his cancer had gone into remission just before a huge air disaster foreshadowed since season one — a disaster that Walt helped to cause, via a series of twists worthy of a Charlie Kaufman flick. With Walt crushed by guilt, facing divorce over his lies and dou-ble dealings, and now deciding whether to cook meth solely out of greed, the third season of Breaking Bad looks to be moving in an even darker direction than the first two, becoming as much a moral trigonometry problem as it is a crime drama. Check it out. It is, hands down, one of the best shows on television.

9 p.m. Tuesdays

We've been very impressed with the original series of the FX network in the past, starting with one of our favorites, the New York firefighter soap opera “Rescue Me,” which stars Dennis Leary. Having seen the pilot of the latest FX effort “Justified,” we're similarly impressed, and think the series will go far if it can stay the course. “Justified” revolves around the adventures of Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant, flexing the same sort of badass muscles he used as Sheriff Bullock on “Deadwood”). After an incident in which Givens guns down a Miami mobster after giving him a John Wayne-esque noon deadline to get out of town or be shot on sight, Givens is punished by being sent to the one place he never wanted to go back to: the hills of Kentucky, where he grew up hard digging coal and dodging the cops. Once he's back, the no-nonsense Givens soon butts heads with one of his old running buddies, Boyd Crowder (the always-entertaining Walton Goggins, who is a longtime collaborator with Little Rock transplant Ray McKinnon), who has since matured from petty larceny into organized crime, large-scale drug dealing, gun running and general mayhem. With a flock of violent neo-Nazis at his beck and call, Crowder has set himself up as a backwoods Capone, and he and Givens are soon engaged in a love/hate relationship that's one of the most complicated — and entertaining — I've seen on TV in awhile. Granted, there are flaws to “Justified,” such as the idea that a guy like Crowder could go around grenading black churches and shooting up banks without having the entire federal government crawling up his ass with a bullet-firing microscope, but if you can suspend your disbelief for awhile and just go with the “Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” vibe of white hats vs. black hats, it's a great time.

7 p.m. March 26

What is it about Americans who want to get pushed around by snooty British dudes? First, there's gazillionaire jackass Simon Cowell of “American Idol,” who has personally done more to make music suck in the past few years than cocaine and laryngitis combined. Now comes Jamie Oliver, a British chef determined to whip America into shape when it comes to our collective spare tire. In the new show “Food Revolution,” Oliver journeys to Huntington, W. Va. — which statistics say is one of the least-healthy towns in the U.S. — to try and get the residents to put down the oleo and deep-fried Snickers bars. Much like Cowell's contributions to music, I'm thinking this effort will also be a failure.

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