Make it or Break it


Al Swearengen (L.), Montana (Timothy Olyphant), Dan Dority (W. Earl Brown), and Johnny (R.).

With the word coming down that the new FX series Justified has been renewed, we feel it’s a good time to revisit the show that we have previously made fun of for being unoriginal and for casting Timothy Olyphant as a marshal, where he is best known from his portrayal of Seth Bullock or “Montana” as some referred to him on Deadwood.  While Justified is Deadwood-esque, the likeness has proven to not necessarily be a bad thing.  Olyphant has brought a certain personality to the role of Raylen Givens, originally crafted for short fiction by legendary pop novelist Elmore Leonard, probably best known for Get Shorty and Jackie Brown

Back in 1870’s South Dakota, a guy like Montana had to be especially antsy, with a gun fight or physical conflict around every corner.  Raylen Givens though, is a really mellow sort, and has sorted out many bad guys already in his hometown of Harlan, Kentucky where he was transferred after shooting a really bad guy in Miami.  Old Raylen Givens will bend rules–like sleeping with a witness, sometimes has a drink while still on duty, is sometimes loquacious, like Montana on happy pills, and that’s all fine by him so far, because he’s just gonna shoot you if he has to, whether he has a little liquor on his breath or is bone deep inside his witness friend, Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter, below), when the bad guys show up.

While Carter is fine, she isn’t as fine as Winona, played by Natalie Zea (below).  Winona is Givens’ ex-wife, and a fine bit of casting.  Hung fans would remember her as Ray’s hottest and best paying client, Gemma.  On Justified, she is re-married to some tool with a hair piece, who will probably end up getting shot by Raylen in short order.  Givens said as much when he showed up in his office and told him that if he mixed Winona up in any of his shady business dealings, that he’d find a bullet with his name on it.  That storyline has begun to bubble, as Winona found a brazen intruder inside her home in last night’s episode entitled blowback.  An intruder who left a business card and who told Winona upon exiting that she shouldn’t neglect to tell her husband that he had paid her a visit, and in the way that he did.  Winona confronted her husband Gary, and revealed that she had been checking his emails–she knows he’s up to something no good, and had asked Raylen to check out a few names for her.  Next week, the intrigue surrounding Gary and Winona appears to come to a head, but last night’s episode, blowback, has given us a few things we’d like to talk about.

In blowback, Raylen is forced to defuse a hostage situation in his very own US Marshals office, and the offender is none other than another of our old friends from Deadwood, W. Earl Brown (Dan Dority, pictured above).  Last night, Raylen Givens kept his gun holstered, which was a pretty good thing considering that David Vasquez, an assistant US attorney, is on hand, and has been in town investigating Raylen’s Miami shooting–and 3 others. 

Wouldn’t have been poetic justice anyway for Raylen to have taken out his old friend Dan.  But we were more than justified to find out that AUSA David Vasquez is played by none other than Rick Gomez (below), the voice of our favorite animated man of the cloth, the priest, from The Life and Times of Tim.

A couple weeks back, funnyman actor and husband of Amy Poehler, Will Arnett (Arrested Development) made a guest appearance, and we’ve also noted guest spots for actors on shows we have liked, past and present, such as Make it or Break it (Brett Cullen) and Sex and the City (David Eigenberg).  While Justified as a series is still a work in progress, and Harlan doesn’t seem to offer big enough storylines for Raylen Givens, it’s a finished product that we’ve been treated to for 8 episodes so far.  Executive Producers Graham Yost (also an EP on Pacific) and Elmore Leonard have not simply taken a Deadwood character, changed his locale and fixed him in the modern world…of Harlan, Kentucky. 

They’ve got themselves a principled leading man, who showed his depth as a character recently when Winona came to his house for some info and found Raylen drinking on his porch.  “Why’d you leave me?” he asked her.  When she asked if they had to do this now, Raylen said “I guess losing someone like you weighs on a person.”

More of a mouthfull than we got from Montana in 3 outstanding seasons of Deadwood.  More of a complicated character too.  So don’t expect us to badmouth Justified around these parts.  We aren’t bullet proof, after all.  But is it “the tits” yet, as Rick Gomez, Tim’s priest would say?

Not yet it’s not, but we are on board either way.

–Crack (


Fenway Park, preparing for the Winter Classic, December, 2009. 

Here is where I divulge the names of two television shows that any real man would probably have trouble admitting that they watched.  In theory.  In actuality, they are good shows, and one especially, “The Real Housewives of New York City,” is especially compelling when considering how shamefully classless it is.  Here’s a quick run down of the characters on Houesiwves:

Jill–so annoying, overbearing, opinionated and talkative that you will literally long for an age when women were not allowed to speak upon hearing her nails to chalkboard voice.  Jill is married to Bobby Zarin, who is hands down, the coolest guy on the show.  And the richest.  He owns a warehouse and a design company, and in the middle of our “great depression” last year, he was dropping 100 G’s on surprise birthday gifts for Jill, who is just they type to order those same gifts for herself on Bobby’s credit card, just in case he had bought her the wrong grossly expensive baubles which they then flaunt to the cameras, a modern day marie Antoinette.

Luann–so very annoying, SO hypocritical…let’s start to sum her up: her geek son takes hip hop classes given by some punk that no one but a snouty rich chick would ever invite to her house, and pays the guy solid greenbacks in the hopes of making this brace faced prep school twerp cool.  Luann is technically a countess, though she was born in Kansas.  Apparently, all you have to do to get a title is to marry an old man with one, who his family purchased from the French government centuries back, probably to win favor in the social and business community.  Luann insists on being referred to and introduced as “the countess” in public, or else, the person making the introductions has made a faux pas worthy of the guilotine or the Bastille.  In what was probably one of the funniest parts of the show to date, now in it’s 3rd season on Bravo, was when Luann went to a homeless shelter in Brooklyn and talked to kids with broken lives about being a countess, as if they knew what that even was.  It calls to memory, the great scene from Monty Python where the feudal King finally steps beyond his own castle, and into town.  “I am John!  I am your King!”  The startled townspeople were left to ask “who?” and “what’s a king?”

  Ramona–or should I say, “Crazy Eyes.”  Ramona has absolutely zero social compunction, she is married to a classless bore named Mario, who thinks he’s the finest tennis player in God’s kingdom, she can spring to tears quicker than a torturee, and she literally does have crazy eyes.  She looks and sounds as though she takes speed intravenously, and is a lightning rod for controversy on a show that IS controversy.

(Ramona or “Crazy Eyes”, above pictured with daughter Avery, who frequently is embarrassed by her mother’s behavior and fashion stylings.)

Alex–Alex seems truly in love, with a dude named Simon, who seems, well, totally gay.  Simon enjoys shopping with Alex, and picking out her clothes, shoes, and the colors and styles of her manicures and pedicures, while he runs around the beach in a thing sling, a banana hammock to rival any.  His swimwear makes Speedo look like full length clothing, which is very attractive, needless to say, for a forty something year old man.  Alex admitted to meeting Simon on a website that guaranteed strings free sex within the hour–and they have been together ever since.  And their two children, both with pretentious French names, are the worst behaved children you can imagine, and Housewives put them through the gruelling process of following them from refined Manhattan school to refined Manhattan school, as their progeny got embarrassingly denied at each–for the benefit of television.

Betheny–my favorite.  Between her and Jill, there are not enough words left to go around for the rest of NYC.  Betheny is by far the housewife with the best body, as she sports HUGE fake breasts, but otheriwse, she is the housewife least fake.  Too bad, she is not really a housewife.  She’s just another annoying single chick in NY, included in the show because the others do not provide the clarity or quite the jaw dropping verbal beatdowns that Betheny is so quick to dispense. 

Kelly–added to the cast last year, presumably to feud with Betheny, she was good enough to deliver.  And Betheny handed her ass to her on a silver platter.  (You go girl!)  Kelly is a bit writer in some dumb magazine, and a former writer in some dumb newspaper, and half her air time is spent necking with italian dudes half her age, or explaining away a domestic violence conviction for popping one of her ex beaus, Naomi Campbell style.  Kelly was a model, probably in the 80’s, and yet she acts like she hasn’t aged or mellowed one bit.  A Page Six item recently had her flirting with hundreds of boys half her age down in South Beach, and if she wasn’t completely devoid of likeability, I might give her a “you go girl” too.  Last year, when she was aksed to help raise money for some charity, a disease that Jill’s daughter is inflicted with (sorry if I can’t remember which), she made the puzzling remark to the young girl on her illness, “isn’t that cute?”

  I’m gonna be honest.  I was not looking forward to the show coming back.  How many catfights and caddy bitches can one watch?  Apparently, the answer is a lot.  Because after just watching episode 1 of the new season, I was mesmerized, and left bursting with aniticipation for episode 2.  I had been enthralled by the The Ream Housewives of New Jersey, because those catfights had been way more intense and conducted with less restraint, and going in to the new season, I was thinking that the housewives of NY, who, by the way, only 3 of the 6 are actually married, would be out reverse classed by the jersey girls.  It was not the case.  Real Houseiwives are back.  So celebrate trash TV.

  One show comes back, and another, intensely girlie, catfight driven show goes on hiatus, ABC Family’s Make it or Break it.  This show is like the O.C., but with more affairs, secret dealings, and well, more Estrogen.  I’ll admit it.  I like watching the U.S national olympic hopefuls fight over each other’s boyfriends while standing around in leotards for the better part of each week.  And I like to see their over made up, tomato looking mothers pick up with the catfighting after the girls get done.  I don’t care that these are projected to be high school aged girls–all the better.  Gymnasts are young, and they are trying to give us a “realistic” show.  All I know is, in my defense, wy wife begged me to watch it, and tonight when they announced it was the last episode until the summer, I was ready to call ABC and complain.

 Here’s to many more seasons of these 2 programs–guilty pleasures, but enough to make you say “Damn.”  In a good way.  Sometimes.

If you have missed any episodes and would like to catch up please go to one of my favorite sites,, where almost all episodes of American and foreign shows are available for viewing, and they do not have to be downloaded, in case you are worried.

  The last winter classic I would like to discuss, is the real winter classic–the hockey game played outside each winter, to triple or quadruple the crowd size of a normal NHL game, and which has done a great deal, for one day, to spark interest in hockey.  This year the game was played on January 1st at Fenway Park, and the Bruins tied the Flyers with a late goal and then won in overtime, as the snow cascaded down from the grey New England sky.

  It may not seem like much, but this game is everything a hockey fan dreams about.  And when Yankee Stadium announced today that they had made a deal with the Big East NCAA athletic conference to host a college football bowl game every January 1st, it angered me and all Rangers fans, because the Rangers are owed a Winter Classic, and Yankee Stadium can not hold two events at one time. 

  The Rangers have been long rumored to get a Winter Classic, and since they are an original six hockey team that has a richer history than the Buffalo Sabres or the Flyers, two teams that are not yet 50 years old, it would seem like this game would be a foregone conclusion.  How thrilling would it be for us Rangers fans to watch our team, on a frozen pond, in front of 80,000 people, the way the Gods intended the game to be played?

  Thrilling.  But not thrilling enough to push for a game out of state, say at the new football stadium in New Jersey, or at Citifield, where the Mets play.  and certainly not thrilling enough to play at either place when local interests would wish to include the Islanders or Devils in such a game against the Rangers, two teams that can barely fill their 15-17,000 seat arenas, except when the Rangers are in the building.

  My attitude is that when the Devils or Islanders, two tenuous franchises (the Devils now have played in Colorado and Kansas City and have produced a meager following wherever they’ve been), and the Islanders, constantly rumored to move, taking their training camp to China next year as some sort of gimmick to sell hockey jerseys in Asia that do not sell here, will deserve a Winter Classic when they can get 65,000 tickets sold to a game of this magnitude that does not have the Rangers on the marquis.  The Rangers, the NHL, and Yankee Stadium need to work something out so that a deserving franchise such as the Rangers can give their faithful an outdoor game.  Though we are not hopeful, our fingers are crossed.  We’d even be grateful to Mayor Bloomberg if he were able to facilitate such a special sporting event.

  You hear tha Mayor Mike?  Put your third term to use that everyone with a brain railed against.