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LONGMIRE Review: Comparisons Not Entirely JUSTIFIED
It’s certain that many will rush to compare A&E’s summer series Longmire to CC-favorite Justified, solely on the basis of a law-enforcement protagonist who wears a cowboy hat and a heap of stoicism. Hell, we did so ourselves. But as it turns out, Longmire is well worth your trouble, even if only because it will tide you over until Justified season 4.
Longmire takes place in rural Wyoming, and it looks to me as though it’s shot there, allowing for some lovely scenery of a lot of wide-open and lonely vistas, which is fitting given our protagonist. Sheriff Walt Longmire is a quiet man, one whom we can tell within the first few minutes of last night’s premiere is in a lot of emotional pain. But as you might guess with a small-town rural sheriff, Longmire is unwilling and perhaps even unable to deal with anything more complex than a crime scene.
Australian actor Robert Taylor is extremely well cast in this role. I did not recognize the guy at all, though apparently he was in The Matrix as well as one of the better Australian crime flicks of this young century, The Hard Word. Taylor definitely has the rugged good looks which are a requirement for this kind of role. And y’know, a big part of me wants to see a rugged, Marlboro man-esque sheriff played by somebody like Sean Hayes, since I’m so bored with central casting. But this is a testament to Taylor’s ability: he’s so good at this part that I’m not bored at all by the seeming obviousness of it.
I don’t know if I’m making sense here, so let me try to apply this to the show on a whole: on paper, even after the trailer, Longmire doesn’t seem worth the trouble of DVRing. Stoic, by-the-book, average Joe sheriff, beset on all sides by inept deputies (except the sassy city-gal rookie), an estranged daughter, and a wise-cracking Native American sidekick: this all sounds like a loose interpretation of the old syndicated show, Renegade. But in execution, the writing, the photography, and the acting all work together to save the show from mediocrity.
We kinda got burned on the stellar pilot for Awake when that show started to go downhill, so I’m reluctant to trumpet Longmire as any kind of second coming. But I will say this: definitely give it a go. Based on the pilot, Longmire has real potential, and rather than aiming to be a replacement for Justified, it is working within that same milieu to the best of its own abilities, being its own show.
The premiere episode of A&E’s Longmire hereby receives the Criminal Complex Seal of Approval. You can check it out Sunday nights on A&E, and also the pilot is running just about every other night this week.