Yes, There Is Great Dialogue on Television

This is the final season for Justified, one of television's great unsung series. Because it was based on an Elmore Leonard short story, it should come as no surprise that the series has featured some of the most unique and fascinating characters to ever grace the small screen. (Yes, I know Breaking Bad, which was also a brilliant series, did the same, but Justified took characterization and storylines to new heights.)

But where Justified's writers really excelled was with dialogue (not surprisingly since that was one of the late, great Elmore Leonard's strengths as well). There is a poetry and musicality about the way the characters speak that makes listening to them sheer pleasure. Whether it's key characters like Rayland Givens and Boyd Crowder or secondary ones like Wynn Duffy and Ellstin Limehouse, the words coming out of their mouths often has risen to the Shakespearean in quality, cadence and complexity.

Writing great dialogue is no easy feat. It has to sound natural to the character, fit the circumstances of a scene and work within the context of the story being told. Doing all that and still managing to make it sing, that's masterful writing. (And equally masterful acting, for even the greatest of speeches will fall flat if the speaker is weak. The cast on Justified has always done a superb job with what the writers have provided.)

If you're a novelist or screenwriter looking for a tutorial on writing great dialogue, binge watch Justified. Every episode will have someone saying something that will make you shake your head in admiration-- and rewind to hear it again.

If ever a TV series merited an award for the way it reveled in the power of the English language, Justified is it. I'm going to miss my weekly dose of its music.