Two of my favorite authors are Michael Connelly and Elmore Leonard, and recent months featured TV series that brought back two of their fictional protagonists, in the process offering diverting television that, if it didn't break new ground, certainly brought me back to the television each week.
"Justified: City Primeval" is a sequel of sorts to "Justified," the six-season series that focused on Raylan Givens, a Deputy U.S. Marshal who is exiled to the Eastern District of Kentucky after he is involved in a "justified" shooting of a mobster in Miami. What made the show interesting is that Givens actually was from Kentucky, and these events brought him back to a milieu he thought he'd escaped and in conflict with Boyd Crowder, a local criminal with whom he grew up.
The book "City Primeval: High Noon in Detroit" actually didn't feature Givens - Leonard's protagonist in that book was Detective Raymond Cruz. But when the time came to adapt the book for television, it was only natural to make Givens the hero - there's a lot of residual audience affection for the laconic, Stetson-wearing lawman as played by Timothy Olyphant.
I think the decision made a lot of sense. The book and series takes place almost completely in Detroit (which is played by Chicago for some reason), and this gives the story a fish-out-of-water element that Olyphant plays to the hilt. Plus, there's a bad guy who is even more evil than Boyd Crowder (played fabulously in the original by Walton Goggins) - Clement Mansell, a despicable sort played by Boyd Holbrook. Plus, there's a great supporting cast that includes Aunjanue Ellis, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Marin Ireland and Norbert Leo Butz and that gives their characters subtle shadings of good and evil that distinguishes the story and its execution.
"Justified: City Primeval" is on FX and Hulu, and a great example of noir storytelling.
Michael Connelly's "The Lincoln Lawyer" has returned to Netflix for a second season, and once again sets a sensation murder trial against the backdrop of modern Los Angeles. The titular lawyer is Mickey Haller, who hot his nickname because he largely operates out of a Lincoln Navigator that serves as a kind of mobile office.
(Note: In Connelly's Lincoln Lawyer" books, Haller is the half-brother of Harry Bosch, the LA detective who drives Connelly's best-known and most extensive series. Not here, though - "Bosch" is on Amazon, "The Lincoln Lawyer" is on Netflix, and therefore occupy different universes. On both shows, however, the hero has an LA house with a fabulous view.)
In season two, Haller finds himself defending popular chef Lisa Trammell, who is accused of murdering a local real estate developer (a great choice of villain) who wanted to raze her home and restaurant to build condos. The problem is that he was also romantically involved with the chef, and he finds himself emotionally conflicted about how to conduct his defense.
Manuel Garcia-Rulfo plays Haller, which is a great choice because it allows the show to speak to the character's Hispanic heritage. (Matthew McConaughey played Haller in the 2011 movie based in the first novel in the series - he was great, the adaptation was excellent, but the Hispanic thing never came up.) And, once again, there is an excellent supporting cast that gives the enormous story texture, among them Neve Campbell (as Haller's first wife and a Los Angeles DA), Becki Newton (as Haller's second wife and legal aid), Jazz Raycole, and Angus Sampson. And - maybe best of all, Elliott Gould (yes!) as Haller's late father's former law partner and mentor.
"The Lincoln Lawyer" on Netflix has a glossier veneer than "Bosch" on Amazon, but it totally works - it is like a grittier "Perry Mason," and faithful to the spirit and tone of Connelly's original novels. (Connelly is a producer on both "Bosch:" and "The Lincoln Lawyer.)
One other note - Bosch and Haller will be back together again in "Resurrection Walk," Connelly's latest book, due out on November 7. I've got my copy reserved on Amazon - can't wait.
Speaking of favorites returning …
I was always a huge "Cheers" fan, and of its spinoff "Frasier." The writing and acting was always first-rate and very, very funny. Now, almost 20 years after "Frasier" went off the air, the character - played with haughty abandon by Kelsey Grammer - is returning in a new TV series streaming on Paramount+ next month. And it looks, well, very very funny.
That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.