Justified, FX's western crime drama starring Timothy Olyphant, will air its season four finale April 2. The show chronicles Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens as he enforces his Wild West sense of justice in modern day Kentucky. Based on the novels of Elmore Leonard, whose work was also the basis for 3:10 to Yuma and Jackie Brown, Justified has received enormous critical acclaim to go along with a devoted fanbase. The fourth season has been one of the highest rated, and there is much anticipation regarding the finale. In honor of this momentous occasion, here's a look at the top five shows based on books.
1. Game of Thrones
HBO's Game of Thrones would be near the top of any list of television greats, and easily ranks #1 for series based off books. I've expounded on its virtues in the past, so I'll just say again that it is the most decadent, luxurious treat of a show on TV right now. It also does wonderful justice to the source material: George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. While the first season was a virtual scene for scene recreation, season two branched away while never betraying the spirit of the books. Season three premiered earlier this week, and the quality doesn't seem to have dipped in the slightest.
2. The Walking Dead
Based on the graphic novel series of the same name, AMC's The Walking Dead is a devastatingly realistic depiction of a so-called “Zombie Apocaypse.” It follows Deputy Rick Grimes, played by Andrew Lincoln, as he fights for his family's survival. The plot is full of twist and turns, and like Game of Thrones, you never know who's going to die next. You can tell a lot about the quality of a show by how violently people react to potential spoilers, and a fan of Walking Dead would sooner shoot you with a crossbow than let you ruin the next episode.
Yes, Justified, is well ... justified to make this list. The gripping suspense and rich gallows humor are among the best on TV, and their blend of authenticity with sometimes outrageous bad-assery is a real achievement. Olyphant does justice to an excellent character created by Elmore Leonard, with bravado to spare. Season four may be ending soon, but FX has already approved a fifth season, which will premiere early next year. Giddy-up.
4. Friday Night Lights
NBC's Friday Night Lights was a fan favorite amongst a surprisingly wide range of demographics. Adapted from the book and subsequent film of the same name, it details the events surrounding a high school football team in rural Texas. Though the second season was the subject of some derision, the series was found on just about every critic's top 10 list during its five season run. It also won two Emmy awards: best actor in a drama series for Kyle Chandler and best writing in a drama series for Jason Katims. The potent storytelling and focus on real-life issues have made it a mainstay of many a Netflix insant-queue.
5. Gossip Girl
I'm going to be honest, I've never seen Gossip Girl. Not even once. However, I know enough people who are absolutely rabid fans of it to believe that it's probably pretty good. If anything, it's worth checking out just for the fact that when it was cited by parenting groups as an example of inappropriate television, the producers used those indictments as advertisements. Sounds like a great candidate for a guilty pleasure.