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At 'Justified's' end, a tribute to Timothy Olyphant's comedic chops

When Justified ends Tuesday, we’ll salute Timothy Olyphant for being an elite dramatic actor. As Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, he’s raised the bar for being a hero on TV. Over the last six seasons, there’s been nobody cooler than Raylan, with his measured swagger, intolerance for BS, willingness to kick some behind, and, of course, that trademark Stetson. Credit a large portion of his awesomess to Olyphant, who actually is cool (and not just playing it on TV). He has embodied his fair share of tough guys with panache, and he’s a superlative dramatic leading man.

But what’s often overlooked is that he’s funny. Really funny.

Justified has truly brought Olyphant’s comedic side to the forefront. Half of the credit for that goes to the legendary Elmore Leonard, who first gave Raylan his wit and Raylan’s world that trademark verve. More credit goes to Graham Yost and the series’ writing staff, for preserving that aspect of the material. In between all the shootings and that time someone got his arm chopped off (including the time someone got his arm chopped off), this is a truly amusing show.

But so much of humor is about timing, placement, and delivery, and Olyphant can land a one-liner with the same finesse with which Raylan shoots someone. He does it so easily that most of the time, you don’t even know that he’s doing it; it’s an organic part of the scene, rather than calling attention to the fact that this is supposed to be funny.

It’s a subtlety that most TV shows miss. Almost every program has at least one character who’s supposed to be the smart aleck, and/or aims to set up some form of humorous banter between at least two of the characters. But just the act of tossing off a quip or arguing with somebody doesn’t make you funny. The words have to be there, and so does someone who knows what to do with them. Olyphant is effortlessly funny, whether it’s with a line of dialogue or simply an expression. He and the rest of the Justified cast—most notably Walton Goggins, but everyone, down to guest stars like Patton Oswalt as Constable Bob—have a natural banter with one another. It works because it might be scripted, but it’s not being forced.

Over six seasons, Raylan’s interactions with all of the main characters have been grounds for humor. A particular shout-out is due to his fellow Marshals, Art Mullen (Nick Searcy), Rachel Brooks (Erica Tazel), and particularly Raylan’s colleague in deadpan wit, Tim Gutterson (Jacob Pitts). Their workplace interactions are often cause to laugh out loud, and it’s just a shame that Justified didn’t have time for more of them.

Olyphant is as talented comedically as he is dramatically. Do you recall his two-episode guest spot on NBC’s The Office, where he was the coolest guy in the room? How about his one installment of FX’s Archer, where he portrayed Lucas Troy, Sterling Archer’s onetime BFF? Luke was entirely insane, but you couldn’t help but love the guy just because Olyphant was so earnest in every uncomfortable thing that he was saying. He sold that character like nobody’s business, just like he did when he played the vengeful porn producer in The Girl Next Door.

He was the best thing about Live Free or Die Hard, as his villain, Thomas Gabriel, actually had tremendous personality while squaring off against John McClane (Bruce Willis)—to the point where you were actually disappointed that he had to get his. You totally understood why Jennifer Garner fell for him in Catch & Release. And you cannot truly call yourself a film fan until you’ve seen High Life, a 2009 movie in which Olyphant plays Dick, who has the not-so-bright idea for the funniest bank-robbery scheme ever. Whether he’s been cast as the straight man reacting to everyone else’s nonsense, or the guy who’s going completely off the deep end, Olyphant knows comedy much more than he’s ever been given credit for. Possibly because he’s actually funny in real life; just watch any of his interviews.

There’s no doubt that Olyphant is a remarkable dramatic actor, and that his portrayal of Raylan Givens will go down as one of the best characters on television. It breaks the brain to realize that he has never won an Emmy Award for this role (and has somehow only been nominated once). For six seasons he lived, breathed, and brought to life the ultimate Western hero. Yet we should also tip our Stetson for all the times he’s made us laugh, because there were many of those too. Maybe there’s still time for that Justified spinoff where Raylan and Boyd move in across the street from each other in Miami?

The Justified series finale airs tonight on FX.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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