Michael Becker / FX
Michael Becker / FX
Don't hate Timothy Olyphant because he's gorgeous, smart and great at his job. When Olyphant faced reporters as part of FX's day at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, the star confessed this about playing brawling, drawling Kentucky lawman: "I hate to say this because I'd like to win awards some day, but it's easy to [play Raylan Givens]."
It's not so easy to successfully put together a schedule as smart and sophisticated as the one FX is currently attempting—recent stumble Terriers was eulogized by network prez John Landgraf as "a beloved 13-episode miniseries"—but with returning projects like Louis C.K.'s brilliant Louie and an upcoming comedy starring acclaimed actor Elijah Wood, things are looking for awards upwards for everybody:
Justified's New Lady Killer: Justified's season two big bad is Margo Martindale's character Mags Bennett, who is based on a real person from Harlan County, Ky., history: one Maggie Bailey, who was known as the Queen of the Mountain Bootleggers. (Us: "It's great to see a female villain on TV." Margo: "No s**t!")
The real Maggie was a beloved local matriarch and crafty businesswoman, her TV alter ego is a little more cutthroat and is perhaps somewhat crippled by her three less-capable sons, one of whom is played by Lost's Jeremy Davies. (Producers revealed to us that while the original Maggie had just two kids, they wrote the role of a third son specifically for Davies, who had reached out during the hiatus and expressed an interest in appearing on the show.)
Mags Bennett's business is a fairly substantial marijuana concern, but the larger issue for Raylan Givens this season is the show's interest in what executive producer Graham Yost calls the "notion of feud culture in Kentucky." This year follows the reanimation of a long-standing rivalry between clan Givens and clan Bennett, and it might get ugly by the end there.
In other Justified news, apparently original novelist Elmore Leonard loves the TV version of Raylan so much that he's writing a new Raylan Givens novel, some elements of which will appear in the show this season. Justified returns to TV on Feb. 9 at 10 p.m.
Out of the Comedy Closet: Louis C.K., star of FX's returning comedy Louie, sprinkled his chat with reporters with self-deprecating commentary (for example, he allowed that he can "get really, really f--king sick of my own face" when editing a show starring himself) and exhibited entirely sincere horror when a publicist volunteered him to host reporters at upcoming shoots: "They're invited to the set?!" Season two of Louie will include an appearance by @louisck's comedy soulmate Pamela Adlon and very possibly a new visual style thanks to some vintage '50s-era camera lenses.
Rooting for the Champ: As fans of Lights Out, the network's new boxing drama starring Holt McCallany, we're clinging to perhaps scant hope that there will be a ratings turnaround. With just 1.5 million viewers, the premiere was what could be kindly called "soft," and Landgraf said he was "disappointed" with the numbers, joking, "Maybe we should have made a show about zombie or sexy vampire trying to regain the heavyweight title." Landgraf did, however, note that there will yet be 50-some airings of the remaining 12 episodes, so there is some hope that new viewers will find it, saying, "Premieres are very important, but shows can find audiences over time."
Sit, Booboo, Sit: File this one under unexpected: FX has ordered a hilarious-looking show about a crazy man who befriends a dog that appears, to him and just to him, to be a man in a dog suit.
For example: Car drives by, and the crazy man (played, again unexpectedly, by Elijah Wood) sees a man in a dog suit run after the car screaming, "I'm gonna kill you!" Wilfred is based on an Australian project, and the original Australian (Jason Gann) in a dog suit will be reprising his role in this series, which is nice for him, since he also created the show in the first place. ("I've actually got a couple cats, one of the great ironies of Jason Gann," Gann says.) Just scribble "Remember Wilfred" on a mental Post-it note and leave it on the TV-reminder wall in your brain June or thereabouts, because this one is definitely worth keeping track of. Louie and Wilfred split an hour block of TV sometime during the summer.
What's your fave FX show? Do you think zombies or sexy vampires are the kind of ratings problem-solvers that every ambitious network should have on staff? Do you like that pretty Timothy Olyphant as much as we do?
—Additional reporting by Christina Dowling