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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Justified 1x01

Wow! Busy day... almost forgot to put this thing together!

What we have here is a 65-page script written by Graham Yost, based on the Short Story "Fire in the Hole" by Elmore Leonard and dated February 4, 2009 (download here).  This script actually comes complete with the  whole works -- a teaser, five acts and a tag.  Wow.  Someone swung for the fences here.  Anyways, it breaks down as follows: (5/19/12/10/5/11/3).

One of the cool things about reading an early draft of a script for a show that you like is that, sometimes, you get more insight into what the writer had planned.  You get to see things that most others will never get the chance to.

I'm not sure what draft this script is exactly -- there are several moments near the end that are pitch-perfect spot on from the Pilot that I saw on TV.  But most of the front end, including Raylan's showdown with Tommy Bucks, is entirely different.  Including an interesting bit where Raylan actually needs 3 shots to kill the man.

Now, I'm not sure if you've ever seen Justified, but one of the cool things about that show is that they firmly establish two things right from the outset.  1) Raylan Givens is a deadeye.  He doesn't miss unless he intends to.  2) He only draws his gun if he intends to kill.

It's a brilliant, brilliant strategy in a genre so full of senseless gunfights and trained men unable to hit the broad side of a barn.  Raylan Givens was trained by the best, always aims for the heart and never misses.  You get a fair warning but not more than one.  If he has to say it twice, he says it with his gun.

The dude is a Grade-A Bad Ass in a Stetson and cowboy boots.

And yet, in this draft Raylan isn't exactly that well-defined.  He's a tough cop and he's got balls of steel... but it's amazing how just a few small changes to his character elevated him so much more.  Off the top he's more of a quiet badass, almost seething.  He says things like:

RAYLAN
If you're gonna talk, I'll put you 
in the trunk and drive myself.

It's not a huge change but it's big enough.  One of the great things about the Raylan that made it into the pilot was that he was just this unflappable southern gent.  He had this sort of charm that never wavered, even if you had a shotgun pointed at his head.  Here, in this script, he just radiates anger -- a calm, controlled anger, to be sure, but it's only barely hidden.

There are also a number of other changes: 

Raylan's ex-wife Winona was a Lawyer, I believe, in the pilot proper, but in this script she's a real-estate agent with her husband Gary.

In the pilot that made it to air, Raylan got shipped off to Kentucky by his bosses, as punishment for killing Tommy Bucks.  In this script, he's actually offered a choice of 5 different places and he CHOOSES to go back to Kentucky.  At face value, it's also a small change... and yet it makes a huge difference in how we perceive the character.  Before, he was a tough guy getting spanked, sent back to the minor leagues (from Miami), in this script, he's almost looking forward to going back. 

It changes his entire outlook.  In the pilot that aired, he didn't want to go back.  Wanted nothing to do with that part of the world anymore.  In this script, hell he packs his bags and off he goes... hell, I could practically envision a skip in his step.

Perhaps the biggest change -- okay, the second biggest change -- between what's in the script and what made it to air is the amount of work put into explaining the relationship between Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder.  In the pilot that made it to air, it comes up a couple of times that he and Boyd used to work the coal mines together, that it's an intense thing that bonded the two men like brothers.  It's touched on a couple of times but just enough to let you know the depth of their relationship.  

In the script here, hot damn, Raylan just won't quit talking about Boyd and their ol' coal-mining days.  He goes off on page-long recollections at the drop of a hat, going into passionate detail about how they'd be down in the depths of the earth 'robbing mines' -- stripping the last vestiges of coal out of the very roofs of the mines, taking as much as they could before the whole thing came down on their heads.  It's told well and the lingo that Raylan throws around, hell, you'd believe he spent his childhood running around in the mines.

But it's all too much.  Seriously, at points it felt like it was bordering on hero worship -- which, considering that Boyd turned out to be a slimy, murdering, white supremacist, well, it seemed like it crossed a line.

Anyways, the biggest change in this script, as compared to the pilot that made it to air was that Raylan shoots Boyd Crowder dead at the end of the episode.  Seriously.  As in dead as a doornail.

If you watched the series then you know that Boyd actually ended up to become one of the more interesting characters on the show over the course of the season.  When I got to the end of the script and realized that he'd intended to kill Boyd... I was actually a bit taken aback. 

All-in-all, this script was a great peek into an early version of Mr. Yost's vision for Justified.  There's a decent amount in here that never made it into the final version of the pilot, but everything in here is worth a read.

And if you've never seen Justified, I highly recommend you give it a look-see.  Such a brilliant take on your standard Cop show.

Anyways, tomorrow I'll be tackling Bored To Death 1x01 - Pilot.

I've never heard of this show before.  Is it any good, folks?
Until tomorrow!

Cheers,
Brandon

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