Thursday, November 1, 2012

Muse: The 2nd Law

Welcome back Muse!

If I had to pick my favorite band on the planet, I'd definitely be Muse.  So I was very excited to pick up their new album when it came out October 2nd.  Before I even heard a song on the album though, I heard about the, for lack of a better word, controversy surrounding it.  I say controversy in the sense that some fans were upset with the direction the band was taking.  One thing about Muse that I love that you'll always hear me talk about is their constant evolution and progression.  They have this unquenchable thirst when it comes to music, they refuse to settle.  To me a complacent band is a boring band.  So I was actually pretty excited when I heard people talking (some of them angrily...) about this new sound Muse was unleashing on The 2nd Law.  Unfortunately to some fans and critics they will forever refer to this album as the album that "Muse went dubstep".  A completely unfair and wrong critique...

Muse gets compared to Queen a lot (a favorite band of mine).  The more reviews I read about Muse though, especially with this album, the more I realize that the comparisons are dead on, but not necessarily because of the layered harmonies and overdubs (that helps and Muse does it with a nice nod to Queen, but in no way rips them off).  It is actually the fact that the critics don't seem to get Muse, much like the critics back in the 70s and 80s never really got Queen.  Critics (not all, but many) lashed out at Queen for their sound, their theatrics, wardrobe and tongue in cheek nature.  They didn't get it.  Queen never conformed to the standard "rock sound" of the time.  Queen used the studio like an instrument, and were constantly evolving and changing.  Critics never had a chance to catch up.  Now Queen, rightfully so, are seen as the innovators and geniuses that they always were.

Enter Muse.  Their sound is unlike anybody else out there today.  So while their vocal harmonies and touch of theatrics evokes comparisons to Queen, the real comparisons is the fact that most critics just don't get it.  Now I don't want to make it seem that every Muse album is trashed by the critics.  Not at all.  What I'm trying to get across is that I don't feel that people are seeing Muse as the real innovators that they are.  Their albums are a continuous evolving piece that leaves hints of where it's going to go as it charges along.  Case in point, their last album The Resistance.  There was  a song on there called, Undisclosed Desires.  It was unlike anything Muse had recorded up to that point, it involved electric drums, keytar-like instruments, and an emphasis on more electronic beats.  That right there is what I believe was the prelude or birth of what would become The 2nd Law.

So how about I finally start talking about their new album?!

Well the album starts off with a bang (Supremacy), there is no intro for you to get a firm hold before you are launched into Muse's best attempt at writing a James Bond theme song (a damn good one I might add, I hope the producers of Bond 24 are taking notes...).  It has all the hallmarks of a great Bond tune, the strings, the spy-like riffs and the exploding chorus.  A great intro song and a great example of Muse starting to flex their muscles and letting you realize this isn't going to be unlike any other of their albums.  This song also lets you know this album is going to be a showcase of Matt Bellamy's vocal range.  He is all over the place with this song, his falsetto soaring over riffs and strings.  They even go a little "thrash" towards the end (Dominic Howard, the drummer kicks ass on this song), letting themselves go completely wild.  In true Bond fashion though, the song ends with a final guitar riff that is perfect.

Madness is one of the few songs I've heard that puts me in a trance a soon as I hear that hypnotic opening.  Bassist Chris Wolstenholme is on double duty for this track with a double neck instrument, a Misa Kitara (a digital MIDI controller) on top and a headless bass on the bottom.  I feel this song is a direct descendent of Undisclosed Desires.  This song is a triumph for Muse.  They set aside the big heavy riffs, and wild falsetto vocals for a introspective song of paranoia and the effects on the relationships between people (something VERY Muse-like).  The reason I bring up the trance it puts me in is because I feel like it is a setup for what happens around the midway point.  An "excuse me while I kiss the sky" guitar break from Bellamy that snaps you back into reality and for I think is one of the most inspiring and cinematic endings to a Muse song ever.  A complete realization from the singer that what he needs is, "to love.".  We also get another soaring vocal line from Bellamy, this time in his normal register (and with a touch of falsetto toward the end).  He sings the line with such conviction and emotion that you can't help but feel optimistic with a lump in your throat.  Just as you feel that the song is going to explode into total hysteria and um...madness, Muse reigns it back in, and the trance is regained if only for a moment.  We realize that the singer's relationship is nothing more, than madness, however detrimental or possibly beautiful, that's up to you.  A real beauty of a song and possibly the song of the year for me.

So after my first listen to Madness I sat there in awe for a moment, only to be immediately snapped back into reality with the motha funker of an intro to the next track, Panic Station.  This song actually does remind me of a lost track off of Queen's (see even I compare them sometimes...) 1980 album The Game (for you non Queen fans out there, it's the album with Another One Bites the Dust).  This song evokes everything 80's, slap bass (Chris steals the show with his bass intro), pop brass, razor sharp synth riffs and a vocal call and response line from Bellamy.  The great thing about this song is the building wall of sound that is constructed throughout and only to be eventually torn down.

The next song is "The Official Song of the 2012 Olympics".  Now Muse didn't write this song specifically for the Olympics, it just happened that way.  This is the song that you need to have in your iPod to help you get through that last rep or lap.  It is the "Muse-iest" song on the album.  What I mean by that is it is totally ridiculous, over the top, grandiose and wonderful.  Muse always has these songs on their albums to show you how out of this world they can truly be (United States of Eurasia and Knights of Cydonia to name two...).  The song starts with a Prelude which is very Muse, and is a beautiful piece of music in it's own right.  What we are treated to after that is Survival.  Bellamy wanted to get inside the mind of the athlete and find out what it is that makes them tick and want to continue to fight on.  I said earlier that Madness was a triumph for Muse, this song is equally triumphant.  The vocal line hits every note of Bellamy's range, with some notes soaring beyond belief ("Yes I'm gonna WIN!!").  The Greek-like chorus of souls chanting ("So I told you!"), counter the cheery happy piano intro.  The song evolves from that intro into a full blown stadium/sports anthem.  The riffs are huge, the drums are pounding and the lyrics are inspiring.  The lyric that always gets me is,  "And I'll reveal my strength, to the whole human race!"  Being a comic book fan, that line always makes me think of a young Clark Kent realizing his powers and what he is going to become one day...a Superman.  Ok, I had to throw that in...back to the album...

The next song Follow Me is one of the more emotional songs for Bellamy.  He is a father for the first time while writing and recording this album, so naturally this is going to effect the way he writes.  Follow Me I believe is the product of that.  The song takes up to this point of the album (there's a big one later...) probably the biggest step toward the electric sound they were going for on the album.  The chorus explodes and takes you into a digital landscape that Muse pulls off very well.  The electronically slick feel is mixed of course with the emotionally powerful lyrics and what I considered some of Bellamy's best and most powerful vocal work at the end (which is very reminiscent of Springsteen's wails and cries at the end of Jungleland).

Animals is a slow bowling track that builds as it goes along.  Bellamy's vocals are smooth and airy but also filled with rage.  This is a song pointing the finger at the "animals" of the human race destroying the very planet they live on (i.e. the fat cats he sliced and diced on The Resistance's opener Uprising).  It's a song that makes you wonder, how can people be capable of causing so much harm, and never having to answer for it.  The cries and anger that accompanies the song's end says it all.

Explorers is beautifully haunting.  A cliched term maybe, but very true in describing this song.  The planet isn't infinite, and the themes of this song are similar to Animals in a way.  Will it be too late when we finally realize we are abusing this planet and tapped it for everything it has to offer?  This is a heavy song folks.  The melody is top notch, and Bellamy completely captivates with his vocals (a common trend on this album!).  I don't mean to get preachy, and never want to get political, but the themes in this song (and the overall album) are important.  Read the lyrics on this one.

The next song Big Freeze is a driving upbeat song that slips in and out of the shadows (does that even make sense?).  The intro is classic Muse.  I does have a bit of Black Holes And Revelations on it, the intro, the vocals, the chorus and the lyrics.  It's inspiring, and Bellamy pleads with us ("Hear me!  What words just can't convey!")  I love the call and response vocals throughout the song.  It gives the song depth.  The band is tight on this track, the guitar break is perfect and a bar away from full blown insanity.

Save Me is interesting for a couple reasons.  The first kind of stupid reason is, the intro for a split second reminds me of Lawrence of Arabia.  The second and more important is that it is Chris on vocals!  He regularly tackles the back-up vocal duty like a champ, but to hear him step into the limelight and shine is something wonderful.  He wrote the tune to, a personal one about his alcoholism and the people in his life that no matter what happened stayed with him throughout it all.  A gem of a track and I'm very pleased Bellamy gracefully handed over the mic to Chris.  The vocals are layered and never reach the absurd (not that when Muse does that it's a bad thing).  A powerful song, written by the quietest member, but sung loud and clear.

That isn't the last we hear of Chris on vocals though!  The very next track Liquid State has Chris on vocal duties again.  This time his voice is a little harder edged and in your face, but still holds that melodic quality to it.  This song deals with Chris' alcoholism again, and this time deals with the inner demons fighting with the sober side.  The aggression works, and you can hear the struggle for freedom from the bottle.  A hard rocker indeed.  It's interesting that even though the song rocks, it never loses control and becomes just a generic rock track.  The lyrics keep it grounded just enough.

The next song The 2nd Law: Unsustainable is the the track that kind of freaked out some fans, and divided others.  This was the first track I heard months before the album was released when the band had a trailer put out about the upcoming album.  The intro is something you'd expect to hear in an epic film directed by Christopher Nolan or Peter Jackson, aggressive strings and soaring melodies, then we are giving the definition of the 2nd law of  thermodynamics.  AH HA!  It all makes sense now, the album title, the themes of the songs...

All natural and technological processes proceed in such a way that the availability of the remaining energy decreases. In all energy exchanges, if no energy enters or leaves an isolated system, the entropy of that system increases. Energy continuously flows from being concentrated, to becoming dispersed, spread out, wasted, and useless. New energy cannot be created and high-grade energy is being destroyed. (THE 2ND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS)

The album and the majority of the songs are about this very definition.  THE PLANET ISN'T INFINITE (sorry caps lock got stuck...).  So after getting a bit of an education on thermodynamics the bands ROARS (damn caps lock...) into the most fearless choice a band has made all year, they go dubstep!  The song does evolve to a more tradition rock song with Bellamy wailing over the electronic shout of "UNSUSTAINABLE" .  The cool thing about this song, and the dubstep part especially is it's all done with their own instruments.  Muse was interested in the idea of dubstep, and the laptop being the new amplifier and/or guitar.  They wanted to see if it was possible to create that sound organically.  Many scoffed at the idea, but once you hear the finished result, there isn't any doubt...Muse did what most thought was impossible.  They made a smart, epic dubstep track with solely their own instruments.  I'm don't listen to dubstep, so I'm kind of a fish out of water talking about the genre, but one thing I know's heavy!  Muse grasped on the idea of the heavy bass and huge beats and made it their own. Another HUGE triumph in their career, and the biggest step forward to a new sound and direction the band has ever taken.

The album finishes with The 2nd Law: Isolated Systems.  I guess what you'd call Part II of The 2nd Law Electronic Opera?  Hm...sounds good to me.  This strings are a bit more quiet and haunting than the biting striking strings that were heard during the intro to The 2nd Law: Unsustainable.  Bellamy says it best, "It's the noise of humanity on a tiny planet in the middle of nothing...".  A perfect end to the album.  And a reminder perhaps?

Well that's it folks.  To call this album a cinematic album is almost an understatement.  It's huge, moving, haunting and brilliantly ballsy.  Muse doesn't push the envelope, it shoves it out the door.  I can't want to see these guys on tour, and what they decide to tackle next.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Masked Men: Big Screen "Goalies"

To non-hockey fans when someone says goalie mask, what is the first thing they think of?

Does Crystal Lake even have a hockey team?
Yes that's right.  That horrible kid swimmer, turned machete wielding un-killable brut that we all know as Jason.  He's single-handely brought the goalie mask to the mainstream, probably more so than any other pro hockey player ever has.  It all started when the guys behind the movie wanted a new look for the previously bag headed Jason...enter Martin Jay Sadoff.  He was the 3D effects supervisor (for Part III, which in every series turns into the 3D one...) and also a huge hockey fan.  He had a bag of hockey equipment and pulled out a Detroit Red Wings goalie mask (Hockeytown even dictates the direction horror icons take!).  It was remolded and fitted for the actor and the rest is history.

The original mask as seen in Part III
I never really grew up on the Friday the 13th series, and even when I did become a horror fan my favorite "slasher" icon was Michael Myers.  Which has nothing to do with hockey so moving right along...

So what is the point of this blog?  Well to discuss my origin for the love of the game, and my fascination with the goalie mask.  I've already pointed out that Jason brought the goalie mask to the big screen, but it was another mask that caught my attention as a kid that led to my fascination of the goalie mask.

Ladies and gentlemen, a blast from the past...

Now I realize I might be losing some of you readers right now, but I hope that the ones around my age 25-30 are being hit in the face by the nostalgic beast that is the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.  I recently re-watched this (which was great fun) and realized that all this obsession with the goalie mask had little to do with watching NHL games as a kid, but from the masked vigilante Casey Jones.  Which probably seems insane being a huge hockey fan now, but seeing a character like this as a kid was awesome!  Before I ever saw Jason, I saw Casey high sticking and slashing punks and "lawbreakers" on the big screen and on the TV screen in the original cartoon series.

Plus the mask was really cool looking!

Hence the reason why it's my profile pic!

Now in the movie (which I remember him best) he was played by Elias Koteas (as fun a performance you'll ever see) and is a former hockey pro turned vigilante.  So there's a reason for the mask...and keeps this blog still having a hockey vibe...kindof.  In the movie whenever he showed up, he was always doing something badass!  He also got the girl in the end!  He was full of one liners, and he became a great friend to the turtles.  In the movie he talks about having to end his career after suffering an never really goes into details about who he played for, or what position...but me being a Red Wings fan, lets pretend he was the craziest Red Wings goalie the NHL ever saw.

What I always liked was in the original cartoon series he NEVER took off the mask.  Which I always found funny.  Even when he went on a job interview (note to self...).  I mean, he LOVED that mask.

Another thing I always loved was he was always spouting sports references.  As seen here in his introduction in the original movie.  He became a fan favorite to TMNT fans, along with the movies and tv shows, has been in comics (where he was originally introduced and created by Kevin Eastman) and had countless toys made in his likeness.  He is also scheduled to be in the upcoming Ninja Turtles movie (scheduled for a 2013 release).  One of the coolest things a fellow fan did was actually create a fan film based on Casey Jones!  You can watch the movie here.  That's dedication, and pretty cool if you ask me.

This might be worth something now...
Shout out to Polaris Banks, director of the fan film.
Anyway I thought it'd be fun to reminisce about the birth of my goalie mask obsession, which however weird has led me to admiring the sport and the men and women who stand guard between the crease.

"Wayne Gretzky...on steroids?!"
So reminisce with me in the comments!  Let me know who got you started with the obsession of the mask?  the position? the game?  And let me know if you grew up with Casey Jones like I did!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Masked Men: The Phantom of the Crease

“There are a lot of very good goalies, there are even a fair number of great goalies. But there aren’t many important goalies. And Jacques Plante was an important goalie.” Ken Dryden

Today's vintage goalie mask, is THE vintage goalie mask. While Plante wasn't the first to wear a mask, (Clint Benidict did to protect a broken nose for 5 games), he was the first to introduce it as regular equipment and continued to work on and perfect the mask the rest of his career. 

Hmm...Clint's interesting first attempt.
The story goes...on November 1st, 1959 Jacques Plante skated into the crease to play the New York Rangers...3 minutes into the game he took a puck to the face, slicing a cut open that went from the corner of his mouth to the bottom of his nostril, and breaking his nose. 21 minutes later Jacques Plante emerged from the locker room wearing a mask that looked like it belonged as a prop on the Phantom of the Opera. 

The Habs won the game 3-1. Plante's coach make him promise that he'd discard the mask after the cut healed, he didn't and won 18 in a row. Finally Plante's coach made him take the mask off and they lost the game that night 3-0 against Detroit. The mask returned for good the next night, and the Habs won their 5th straight Stanley Cup that year.  The NHL would never be the same...

The Phantom of the Crease.
The era of the mask had begun, and no longer was it seen as a "sign of weakness" although some held out and never donned the signature piece of equipment, others saw it's usefulness.  Plante's impact on the game of hockey and especially his beloved position can not be overstated.  

Josh Harding pays tribute to the greats...there's Plante's above the eye.
The mask wasn't the only "first" or innovation he brought to the position and to the NHL.  He was the first goalie to play the puck outside of his crease, which would help aid defencemen.  He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1978, his number (1) was later retired by the Canadiens as well as being named the goaltender on their "Dream Team".  Plante would go on to become a mentor and idol for future goalies, and continue to work at perfecting and protecting the faces of sport's most important position.  He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1978.

Here are some more of his masks...a true innovator and icon.

HOF: The "Pretzel" Mask

HOF: Another classic
I'll leave you with one more picture.  One of my favorites of Plante or any goalie.  The picture says it all, the unbeatable concentrated stare, the posture, the mask...

This had to have been a terrifying sight for ANY shooter.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Masked Men-An Era of Intimidation and Art

I’m a fan of hockey, and more specifically what I think is the hardest position in sports, the goalie.  I also think that while the goalie masks of today are awesome, the masks of yesterday are true works of art and intimidation.  So every so often I write about some of my favorites and the men behind the masks.  Here are a few of my favorites...don't worry I'll post others on a more regular basis as well!

Bernie Parent on the cover of TIME
This one is one of the most intimidating and scary in my opinion. It was worn famously by both Bernie Parent and later Pelle Lindbergh (both Flyers). The mask itself has an open canvass, which means anything can be projected on it, much like the infamous Michael Myers mask. Just look at it! All you get is the eyes (in the picture it’s Bernie Parent). And unlike the famous Jason Voorhees mask, this one is more angled and gives it a more angry vibe. Even with all the talented airbrushed artists out there, I have yet tosee a mask more intimidating today. Pelle’s story is a great but also sadly tragic one. Imagine your favorite team, position and player growing up…now imagine that you get drafted by that team, play that position and are coached by that favorite player of yours! That was Pelle’s path to stardom and greatness (drafted as the Flyers goalie and coached and befriended by Bernie Parent). He went on to win the Vezina Trophy in 1985, won the Bronze at the 1980 Olympics for Sweden, and holds to distinction as being the only goalie NOT to lose to the famed 1980 USA “Miracle on Ice” team that year. Sadly he died in 1985 after sustaining injuries in a horrendous car crash. He was kept alive long enough for his organs to be donated which his coach at the time called “the greatest save” a goalie could make. He was then the first player posthumously chosen for an All-Star game in North American sports that year. 

You are officially intimidated...just try to score on Pelle.

Another great vintage goalie mask. This one belongs to Gerry Cheevers. The cool thing about this mask is, every "stitch" that you see was painted on after that certain part of the mask was hit with a puck, stick or just beat up somehow. Wow, and to think goalies used to NOT wear masks.
Cheevers' "scars"

Cheevers in the crease.
In honor of the next round of the NHL Playoffs and the Rangers advancing, here's a nod to a legend of the NHL (and ex-NY Ranger) Gilles Gratton. Although he only played about 46 games in the NHL, he was very talented his "legend status" really came from his eccentric personality...supposedly hanging out after practice naked (and skating naked during one), talking in great detail about his past lives (he had been a soldier in the Spanish Inquisition), growling and hissing at opposing players who got to close to him, and most famously refusing to play if the moon was in the wrong part of the sky. 

But to me, he is awesome for coming up with probably the coolest mask the NHL has ever seen. The "Tiger Mask".  Listen to the man tell the story of the "birth" of the tiger (mistakenly thought to be a lion by many) and Madison Square Garden's response at it's unveiling.

*growling/hissing noises*

MORE TO COME SOON!  Including the Holy Grail of masks...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Having fun.

You know that feeling you get when you hear something, see something, experience something that inspires you to the core?  Well I just got that feeling after listening to the band fun.'s debut album, "Aim and Ignite".  I mean, my God.  I hear ELO, The Beatles, Queen, Weezer, and Neutral Milk Hotel...but most importantly I hear a band totally finding a balance between those band and themselves.  I'm so excited and inspired that I don't know what to write...actually I just feel like anything I say won't properly convey the joy this album brings to me.  I feel like I'm way behind just discovering this band 44 minutes after midnight aka the day they release their second album.  Which is a great feeling and a blessing in disguise that I get to go pick up their second album later today and go into complete fun. overdrive.

This is as strong a debut as I've EVER heard.  This band is fearless, this band is the future.  The album is so damn powerful, and full of insane melodies, and inspiring lyrics.  I am so excited to discover this band.  I hope you discover them too, and are overtaken by the complete joy this album delivers.

Here's to all kinds of fun. in the future with this band.  I've been waiting for a band like this...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Chasing Another Super Bowl

I'm a life-long New York Giants fan.

That being said, this season has brought every emotion possible.  There have been rousing regular season wins (Patriots), horrible losses (Redskins...twice) and blueprints for later success (Packers).  The playoffs are a whole other emotion.  What a wild ride it has been leading up to another Super Bowl appearance for the New York Football Giants.

But my favorite story of this season is one that is largely forgotten...

Chase Blackburn's return to the NFL.

Math Teacher, Hard Hitting Linebacker
Blackburn was an undrafted pickup for the G Men in 2005, he was also part of their 2007 Super Bowl run (although he sported a different number, 57).  He was a hard hitting, hustling linebacker who for 4 straight seasons played in all 16 games.  But after the 2010 season he was an unrestricted free-agent and nobody picked him up.  He practiced with a couple teams, but eventually went on to teach middle school math (he graduated with a math degree from Akron).  His life after football had begun...until an injury and a phone call made him the final piece to the Deja-Blue puzzle the G Men needed to make it back to the Super Bowl.

Blackburn had spent the first 12 weeks of the season watching his former team struggle, through the ups and downs.  He wisely stayed in shape so when the Giants called, he answered physically and metaphorically.  A couple of hours after the phone call Blackburn was on a plane to NJ, practicing the next day and starting in the week 13 match up against the then undefeated Packers.  You couldn't script it better...a week prior Blackburn was picking equations to put on math tests for his middle schoolers, the next week he was picking off Aaron Rodgers to help the Giants give the Packers their first real test of the season and eventually knocking them off in the playoffs...a win that was largely sealed by a 40 yard fumble return by none other...Chase Blackburn.

Blackburn's 40 yard fumble recovery
I love watching the Giants.  I especially love the way on every play, defense or special teams, Chase Blackburn is somewhere to be found around the ball.  Whether it's making the tackle, being the first guy there to congratulate the Giant who did, or to pick them up, dust them off and give them the "we'll get 'em next time" helmet smack.  Just watch, he always has the dirtiest uniform on the field.

Welcome back Mr. Blackburn
As well all know this Super Bowl coming up is a rematch of Super Bowl XLII.  For Blackburn the only thing different for him is the number on his back.  His will, determination and toughness never changed.  He knows as well as anyone else, on any given Sunday your (new) number may be called to make a difference.
New number, same toughness

Eli is Elite.
5 for the road...aka an NFL Record

Monday, January 16, 2012

Justifying Justified

I don't have HBO anymore, I've never had Showtime, and I don't watch Breaking Bad.  Most people would agree the best show out there is on one of those two networks, or it is just...Breaking Bad.  But for me FX has done it again in creating my favorite show on TV, Justified.  Like with most of my favorite shows in the past (Dexter, Mad Men, Scrubs, Frasier) I came late to the game, and had to catch up on Seasons 1 and 2, which was no problem at all after the pilot.  This show is written sharper, shot grittier, acted better and laced with humor better than anything I've seen on TV since...well it's predecessor Nip/Tuck (possibly my favorite show of all time).
Timothy Olyphant (who has struck TV gold again after staring in the brilliant Deadwood) plays Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (a character created by novelist/screenwriter Elmore Leonard who appears in 2 of his novels and a short story).  This seems like the role Olyphant was born to play, and hopefully will have more than 3 Seasons to expand on this character.  He's just as likely to throw a joke your way, before a punch...but will then will follow with said punch.  But he's not just a gun totting cliche either.  Sure he wears a cowboy hat, boots, jeans and a bad tie...but he also is an oddly touching character who goes out of his way to make sure he protects everyone he cares for.  And this sometimes blurs his sense of right and wrong, and it's fascinating to see which way he decides to go.  His relationship with his father is also the most compelling and complicated father/son storyline I've EVER seen in a TV show.  He's a true lawman for the 21st Century and I live for characters like this...these are the kind of guys you root for.
TV's Biggest Badass: Marshal Raylan Givens
His Lennon to his McCartney is the absolutely brilliant Walter Goggins (who plays the morally grey Boyd Crowder).  I don't think I've hated a character more than I hated Boyd Crowder during his introduction in this pilot episode.  By the end of Season 1, he was one of my favorite characters on the what does that say?  Interested yet??  He chews up the dialogue and scenery like it's good ol' fashioned spittin' tobacco. Walter Goggins has a couple awards in his future and his rocky back and forth character ride he takes us on is the most compelling storyline of Season 1.
Walter Goggins' Boyd Crowder
This is a show that is constantly bringing in new complex storylines as well as new complex characters.  It's rich with scenery and lush with moral dilemmas that confront those characters.  Oh and it also has the best gunfights around...

So...check out my favorite new show on TV.  You have until 10 pm tonight to catch up...GO!