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Longmire's First Season Turned Out to Be Pretty Decent!

It's fair to say Longmire is a stubborn old coot of a show. Between the many wood-paneled interiors, big sky, and conversations where all parties have hands placed firmly on hips, sometimes it feels like the feisty A&E; hit should be titled Little Walker, Texas Medicine Woman on the Prairie. Much like the titular Wyoming sheriff-cum-detective, this show isn't too concerned with being something it's not. Based on Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire Mysteries crime novels, the sheriff and his team of recognizable characters are just fine doing what they do and don't need any fancy (AMC/FX/HBO) bells and whistles, thankyouverymuch. Like a set-in-his-ways grandpappy whose eccentricities family members eventually just have to accept and even grow to love, the first ten episodes of this familiar-yet-surprisingly-unique procedural crime series turned out to be actually pretty fun (and yes, there will be a Season 2). Between the wholesome setting, solid characters, and dedication to inventive mysteries that drew mainly on the world's specific resources there's more here to like than not. So fasten your belt buckle, cock your Stetson, and let's take a trip through the beautiful and dastardly parts of Absaroka County...


THE PROS:


Robert Taylor, Katee Sackhoff, Lou Diamond Phillips, Bailey Chase, Cassidy Freeman, and Adam Bartley are all seasoned vets perfectly cast in their roles. Each provides a source of drama and comedy respective to character, whether it's Taylor's gruffly clever leader, Sackhoff's sass-mouthed Philly transplant, or Diamond Phillips' wise and wise-cracking Cheyenne bartender. Chase is a young challenger to Walt's position as sheriff who also happens to be dating his daughter, played by Freeman, while Bartley provides comic relief as a foolish yet committed underling. No one here overlaps—they are an efficient and thought-out team that from the first episode onward functioned like a well-oiled machine.


If there's an MVP here, it would be the crimes. Between orchestrated bear attacks, arrow deaths, Mennonite strippers, meth-laced greeting cards, cult members strapped to train tracks, and legit Native American Dog Soldiers, Longmire knows itself very well. Yes, all those crazy phrases were really part of the show. Especially fascinating is the regular interaction with a neighboring autonomous Cheyenne community that Walt and his team occasionally help, receive help from, and even butt heads with through cultural disagreement. It's clear that Craig Johnson's source material is researched on the inner-politics of a Native American reservation, as evidenced in the episode titled "Dog Soldiers," wherein a scheme centers on the illegal fostering of Cheyenne children because they command twice as much federal stipend money than other kids. Didn't know that! Essentially, credit where credit is due for not being a too-cool-for-school CSI: Wyoming.


The fake-Wyoming setting (I'm told the show is filmed in New Mexico) is basically gold-colored heaven and Longmire puts all the natural beauty on full display, along with plenty of dirt roads, historic municipal buildings, wealthy lodges, and an occasional sleazy home. Cameron Duncan and J. Michael Munro have a slew of film credits between them as camera operators, and the whole time they must have been stockpiling dream shots that've now found their way onto A&E.; Some episodes leave viewers feeling like they've vacationed in a charming small town that serves great pie and where everyone says "hello." Plus, there were plenty of Neil Young-type distorted guitars and even a cover of Jace Everett's "Bad Things" to accompany some of the more cinematic moments.


THE CONS:



Understandably, procedurals focus most on weekly crimes while the forces on the solving end remain relatively unchanged. Season 1 teased out a thin plot via Walt's flashbacks involving his deceased wife, secret stab wounds, and mysterious travels to Denver, Colorado that amounted to about five minutes of screen time. Walt is an emotionally private man and the death of his spouse from cancer actually turned out to be random, drug-fueled murder, with the sheriff killing the alleged meth-addled culprit. This moral lapse added darkness and edge to our normally wholesome hero, yet his demons were kept so at bay that the overall arc felt barely present and uninteresting.


There was also no guiding metaphorical argument to the world of Longmire. We're told that Walt is tortured by his past, but aside from the occasional Unsolved Mysteries-like memory, his wrongs don't comment on the nature of humanity. Without this connection to a larger truth the main character appeared stock, lifeless, and not worth emotional or intellectual investment. It's hard to feel sympathetic for someone who's only marginally affected in the present by personal crimes. The underused supporting cast is likely raring to be given their own flashback plots that could make a summary statement about the laws of man through both weekly crimes and the individual struggles of the team.


An antagonist as capable as Walt but with inverse values would help define the Wyoming sheriff through regular comparison and provide an honest challenge. Sherlock Holmes had Moriarty, Elton John has Madonna, why not give Walt an element stronger than perps and closet-skeletons to battle? Hell, why not Barlow Connally?



Longmire's the kind of show where if you're home, and your retired parents put it on, it's not that hard to enjoy. The most fun comes from its straight-faced presentation of ruggedly wacko crimes but probably won't satisfy those who want more than open-and-shut case-of-the-week adventures. Then again, a slower pace now and again is kind of nice, so check out at least three episodes before writing this one off all together.


QUESTIONS!

– Do you like Longmire?

–Who is your favorite character?

– Do you agree or disagree with any or all of these claims?

– Will you be tuning in for Season 2?

Comments (27)
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"...in the episode titled "Dog Soldiers," wherein a scheme centers on the illegal fostering of Cheyenne children because they command twice as much federal stipend money than other kids. Didn't know that! "



Because it isn't true! I am a big fan of "Longmire" (TV series and the books) but it went off the rails with "Dog Soldier" and the lack of research. ICWA is a federal law regarding Indian children in foster care and someone can't just swoop in, take them, put them in foster care and adopt them out in a matter of weeks. Also NO foster home gets paid extra for ANY ethnic group or race. Your comment of "Didn't know that" proves my point that it is dangerous to put these kind of ideas in a TV show because people believe it is true.



All of this said (you just happened to pick the one episode that I had issues with) I still like the show but they need to invest in a little better research, and gun handling according to other Longmire posts ....and maybe a little on what the law covers and doesn't.
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I still have the last three episodes on my DVR, but I like this show a lot. It does feel like something my grandma would like if only it came on CBS where she could easily find it, but it's good. I do think the show's gonna need a big bad sooner than later, though.



And Starbuck's lookin' good in the deputy uniform.
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Once I got over the difficulty of taking someone who looks that much like G.W. Bush, I dliked this series alot. I am attracted by interesting plots and likeable actors. Not an immediate must-see but a positive attraction on the DVR list.
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I quite like it actually! It is rather slow burn. I feel sometimes it is very much like reading a book. Like the music and the mountains and all characters are interesting. I also believe the casting is excellent! I wouldn't have believed that bloke is an Aussie LOL!
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I am a huge fan of the books. I was actually raised in Wyoming, near where this fictional county is supposed to be located. It is not filmed in Wyoming. It's filmed in New Mexico. Wyoming's mountains are much more impressive, our grass is shorter, and there needs to be more sagebrush and antelope. :D



The books are fantastic and fun. Character-wise, the show does stay fairly faithful to the personalities in the books. Vic was a near perfect adaptation. My biggest dissapointment was the episodic nature of the show. The books have wonderful, robust storylines. In comparison, the TV show feels lacking in the plot department. Craig Johnson knows how to write a story. If it's not broke, don't fix it. I'll watch season 2, but I hope they pull more from the books.



Give credit where credit is due. If you watched this show, and liked the characters, go read the books. The plots are better written, and you will help support a Wyoming author (they are rare).
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I am considering reading some, but worried some of the tv mysteries may have spoiled the surprise of the solutions
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The writers take plot points here and there but the shows aren't verbatim - there would only be 8 shows!! The season finale was close to the first book but, IMO they wimped out a bit. It was something a reader could remember but it certainly didn't follow the book word for word.
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As the main characters story developed the show became much better. However it still suffers from over used story lines. It would be much better if shot from the perspective of Sackhoff's character where we get to see a fresh face step into this established old school western world in modern times. Her discoveries would be ours and would give us perspective on those discoveries rather than relying on flashbacks, random guest appearances, etc.
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We love the show and it's characters.
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I really like this show.



Good work all around.
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Glad you liked it...I gave up on it after 3 episodes.



But enough about current TV shows.



Can you give us some more articles on TV shows that were canceled during their first season?



I could use some more in depth analysis!
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Just another Aussie actor playing a lead role of a police or detective type show. Makes you wonder!!! But ,yes i enjoy this show immensely.
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Hopefully Ryan "Jason Stackhouse" Kwanten will make a cameo in S2
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Is this show a good replacement for Justified?
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No, it is nothing like Justified except they are both sheriffs. But is is a danged good show in itself.
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I'm really enjoying the show. It was one of the shows I looked forward to the most this summer. I like the rural western look and feel of the show, and the unique cultural dynamics you find in such a setting. And, definitely love the cast, though, agreed, would like to have them fleshed out more. Great casting, interesting characters that I really want to get to know more about. Looking forward to more Longmire next season!
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Yeah Vic came close to having some interesting stuff - the implied off camera husband fights, but most if the time we just had to take her character's expositiony word for it. Also, The Ferg!
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The book Vic is more profane and abrasive. I find her to be funnier in the book. I think the writers are having more trouble bringing the book verson to the screen because of her language and the limits on TV -even cable.
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Great season - will be back for Season 2. I want to see Katee Sackhoffs characters flushed out a bit more. I think Lou Diamond Phillips character was bit under-utilized. Have to admit this, watched the finale with my parents in town and they enjoyed it!
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It's a great show and I'm a big fan now!



Without a doubt, Vic is my favorite character. Katee Sackhoff finally has an awesome follow up role to her stellar work on BSG as Starbuck. In fact, the casting was spot on for the entire show.



I didn't have a problem with the over-arching storyline not being present enough. I liked that it trickled out slowly and teased along the way, slowly changing our viewpoint of a man having difficulty dealing with his wife's death from cancer to something far more troubling to his soul.



Excellent stuff! Can't wait for season 2!
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I just recently got turned onto Longmire when A&E did a marathon a week or so ago, and I gotta say I enjoy it. As Mate said below it does have an old school cop show feel. I think the characters mesh pretty well together, so I think that is why I like it, they play well off of each other. One of the reason I also like the show is because you never know how a person is going to get taking out (I mean really using a bear - BRILLIANT), and you never know what is going to happen week to week.

I do think they may need to bring in an overall arc, maybe delve a little more deeply into the murder of Walt's wife, give us more of an inside look into Branch's father and why he is so shady. The show could definitely benefit from having a big bad. I will definitely be tuning in next year to see where the new season will take us.
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Great show based on really well written books.
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Was curious about these, how faithful is the TV show in comparison?
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Closer than "Bones" is to the Kathy Reichs series of books. It is recognizeable and the author has been involved with the TV series and is fairly pleased. That said, I find the TV Longmire to be a bit more emotionally damaged than the Walt portrayed in the book. The books tend to put Walt at more peril than just fist fights and the relationship between Walt and Henry is portrayed as stronger. It's a pretty good spin-off.
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I agree. I also enjoy the humour of the books. If you like the show I think you will enjoy the books.
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Great show, watch it!!
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I enjoyed Longmire. It is kind of an old school cop show. The overall arc was a little weird to follow and the climax of that arc was kind of dulled down. The individual episodes are kind of fun. I think the cast meshes well and the show, overall is pretty decent. .



I like Vic. She is hilarious and Sackhoff plays it pretty well.



i agree with most of them. I would hope that Branch's father or maybe the oil company would take a bigger role in more of a big bad role. Because if his past gets wrapped up in the first couple of episodes next season, then what is a viewer going to expect from the stories. There are only so many people in the county. And crime in small towns tends to be pretty specific in regards to who is doing it.



I might. It wasn't the worst show this year. In fact I liked it for the most part. Sometimes you just need a nice quiet show on a sunday night that isn't ridiculous vampires getting high off of vampire god blood or and family drama disguised as an Alien Apocalypse.
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