Lots of interesting stuff in FX’s announcement of its 2010 schedule. Yes, I’m looking forward to the new season of Damages (Jan. 25). Yes, I’m hoping that the superb stand-up comic Louis C.K. will finally find a good TV starring vehicle for himself in Louie, especially given the fine work he’s been doing on Parks and Recreation. And yes, I think you should check out the grown-up cartoon Archer (Jan. 10):I’ve seen the pilot, and it is a smart spoof with sharp sarcasm.

But based on its cast, a brief clip, and its source material, Justified is the show I’m all-in on: I’ll bet the contemporary drama starring Timothy Olyphant as a sheriff tracking down badguys will be one of the best new shows of the upcoming year.

Justified was originally called Lawman. While I suppose the obvious reason for the title-change is that Steven Seagal just debuted a series with the same name. But I’d also wager that when FX saw that title and pictures of Olyphant in ten-gallon hat, they got the jitters that people would peg it a Western and they’d lose some of the female audience and most of their young demo. In business terms, these fears are, I suppose… justified.

No matter what you call it, though, this drama would seem to have both quality and fun on its side. And by “fun” I mean Olyphant as a laconic lawman (sorry, FX: I’ll still use the term) who cracks skulls while speaking rueful, terse Elmore Leonardesque dialogue. That’s partly because the hero is based on an Elmore Leonard creation, Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, who’s popped up in a few of Leonard’s novels and short stories. Check out a bit of it here:

Justified‘s pilot was directed by Michael Dinner, who helped make the short-lived, Elmore Leonard-derived, Carla Gugino-starring series Karen Sisco so good during its appallingly short 2003-2004 run. One of its producers is Graham Yost, who worked most notably on Boomtown.

If you thought Olyphant was cool/sexy/smart/intriguing in Damages and Deadwood, you’ll want to see him in Justified.

Wanna bet?