Friday, June 8, 2012

REVIEW: Longmire

A&E - Sundays 9/8c

All the major cities have been taken, so crime dramas are now taking to the backwoods.  Longmire is set in Wyoming, so that this at times looks like a Western in terms of setting.  It doesn't have the feeling of a Western as in the Old West (Deadwood is the last legitimate Western, although Hell on Wheels could be labeled as such).

No matter how it is dressed up, though, Longmire is a procedural, and it is not apologetic about this fact.  This is all fine and dandy, of course, if it wants to be lumped in with other crime shows with a unique main character (in this case, Walt Longmire, played by Robert Taylor) who is the rough and tumble local sheriff whose wife just died.  He's clearly tough and a good guy, and he has a "my way or the highway" kind of demeanor.

1.  Does it entertain me?
The initial comparisons are going to be to Justified, FX's backwoods crime show.  The problem is that Justified is vastly superior in every way.  Better lead, better acting, much better writing.

What Longmire wants to do is to create a world that is different than ours, the Wyoming way.  It never truly succeeds in this, though, especially not in the way that Justified set up the world of Kentucky and the various mob families.  Maybe this is the difference between Kentucky and Wyoming, though.  Wyoming just isn't that interesting.

Taylor does an admirable job as Walt, and Katee Sackhoff isn't given enough screen time to give her character much personality.

The mystery of the week is only marginally interesting, and it's really not enough to keep you coming back.  CSI is an expert at those types of stories, where the reason you tune in every week is the murder and subsequent forensic investigations.  In order to distinguish yourself from that, you need something else to bring viewers back, whether it be characters or dialogue or emotion.  Longmire has potential for some of that, but in the pilot, it mostly fizzled.

Oh, but it does have Lou Diamond Phillips.  I know, I thought he was dead, too.

2.  Is it realistic?
Yeah, I can see a crime like that happening in Wyoming.  Guys are always shot in the back while visiting trailers disguised as trailers.

Everyone behaves appropriately, so I really have no issue with that.

3.  Are immoral actions defended?
Crimes are punished, the good guys win.  People don't think hookers are appropriate, which is always good news, and there is no sign of extramarital sex.  There is also no swearing, so it is relatively safe family viewing.  Unless your family doesn't like semi-boring shows.

4.  Are traditional family values upheld?
Walter actually seems like a pretty moral and virtuous man.  He's the only character we get into in the first episode, but so far so good.

Again, there isn't any sex or affairs or cheating, and this doesn't seem like the kind of show that will challenge these beliefs.
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Longmire is a typical summer show, not a lot of depth or mystery, but a standard procedural set in Wyoming.  It is family friendly and safe for viewing.  The problem is that a summer show really needs to be able to keep you inside on a nice summer evening or make use of the DVR.   Luckily, though, there's not a lot on in the summer to take up room on said DVR.

Grade: B-

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