TV Series Review
The Wild West is long gone. No longer do Wyatt Earp and Wild Bill Hickok ride tall in the saddle, trading hot lead with cattle rustlers and card sharks. The prairie's been tamed, the mountains have been mapped. The days of dime-store cowboys and frontier justice are over.
Except, perhaps, in Absaroka County, Wyoming.
It's not as if the county is a place that time forgot. If you want to build a barn, chances are you still need a building permit. But in this rural backwater, a hint of frontier remains. Only a handful of law officers are on hand to patrol an area that seems as big and sprawling as the skies above, and Wyoming's wide open scrubland offers plenty of space to conduct illegal activities such as, you know, burying the occasional body. And just like in the old days, the lawmen themselves have their own skeletons to hide.
In the drama Longmire, which is based on a series of mysteries written by Craig Johnson, Walt Longmire is the sheriff in the aforementioned Absaroka County—Wyoming through and through. He looks the part, as if he was raised on sagebrush and whiskey. He's a pragmatic man, knowing instinctively what petty issues to let slide for the community's greater good. And even though he's on friendly terms with most in the area, he won't hesitate to take someone down if they get in his (or the law's) way.
There's Grime in Them Thar Hills
Walt lost one of his deputies in tragic fashion when this lauded A&E show moved to Netflix—his sometime rival and second-in-command Branch Connolly. But two of his longtime cohorts are still on the job: Victoria "Vic" Moretti, a one-time cop from Philly (who seems to be bit attracted to the grizzled widower); and the well-meaning but sometimes inept Ferg. Longmire also gets some off-the-books help from Henry Standing Bear, a local barkeep and Longmire's best friend.
But even as Longmire and Co. do what they can to take the bad guys down, they're not above stretching the law to catch the folks who outright break it.
One example: Longmire's cancer-assailed wife was murdered not too long ago, and he's determined to bring the culprit to justice. Both he and Henry, in trying to untangle the complicated web around the plot, have run afoul of the law and, in Henry's case, even been accused of murder as well. It's a brutal, personal case, and more bodies will surely turn up before the true culprit is brought to justice.
More Mud Than Water
At its core, Longmire (the fourth season having been released in its entirety on Netflix) is a crime procedural, just like so many of its scripted compatriots. Yet it somehow feels more believable. The setting looks rough and dusty, as it should. The actors flesh out their roles in convincing ways. Even the squeaks and thumps heard in the interior of the hard-used SUV the sheriff drives speaks to a rare authenticity here. And that gives Longmire some atmospheric grit. This is a hard land that sometimes attracts desperate people, after all, and the camera doesn't flinch from their misdeeds.
OK. It does flinch more often than, say, Game of Thrones or House of Cards or Fargo. But some of this show's problems have, perhaps not too surprisingly, gotten worse with its move to Netflix. Whereas crude dialogue was most often sequestered to more mild profanities when Longmire was on A&E, the new incarnation strays into harsher language—s-words most predominant. The dead bodies seem to be a bit bloodier, too.
Good television doesn't have to always be bad. And that's something I might have tried to argue on Longmire's behalf some years back. Just like the dry and cracked land we see onscreen, though, it's a harder sell now.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Robert Taylor as Sheriff Walt Longmire; Lou Diamond Phillips as Henry Standing Bear; Bailey Chase as Branch Connally; Cassidy Freeman as Cady Longmire; Katee Sackhoff as Victoria 'Vic' Moretti; Adam Bartley as The Ferg