Longmire – Exceptional New TV Series

Sheriff Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) is a world-weary Wyoming cowboy of few words and slow, but deliberate actions. Gut-shot by grief over the death of his wife, his long road to recovery has brought him under fire from deputies who have had to shoulder most of the law enforcement burden for nearly a year.

 Sheriff Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor)

His newest deputy, Victoria “Vic” Moretti (Katee Sackhoff), fresh from the streets of Philadelphia, breaks through his haze by reporting a dead body and insisting on back-up from him personally. As they plod over the snow-laden landscape she leads him to the body of a dead sheep. But Vic doesn’t apologize for getting Longmire out of his house and his self-imposed exile from life. As  they determine that the sheep has been shot, Longmire stands very still, looking quietly out over the countryside.

“Whatcha doin’?” she asks.

“Thinking,” he says. “I do that sometimes before I talk.”

Longmire is a man out of time and space and out of sync with the modern world. He doesn’t carry a cell phone or a high-powered rifle with all the bells and whistles. He wears a brown cowboy hat that he removes when he is the bearer of bad news, nervously threading the brim round and round through his fingers, his head bowed, his own emotions so close to the surface that his eyes mist, his voice halting and shaky.

Yet he is a strong-willed man with an abiding sense of right and wrong, and not just from the law’s point of view. His words and movements may be slow and deliberate, but his eyes take in everything, his mind rapidly assessing people and situations, not only when a crime needs solving, but on a personal front with his daughter Cady (Cassidy Freeman), and when there is a conflict of personalities and interests in his own office.

But as Longmire struggles to find purchase once again among the living, he also finds himself struggling to take back control of his position as sheriff. His young and ambitious deputy, Branch Connelly (Bailey Chase), not only questions Longmire’s authority and out-of-date methods, but now wages his own splashy campaign for sheriff in the next election.

When Longmire needs a distraction in a tense hostage situation involving all three of his deputies, he turns to his new political opponent and says, “Call attention to yourself, Branch. You’re good at that.”

Another on-going point of conflict in his life is with the Native American law enforcement of the nearby Indian Reservation. They don’t like Longmire. It has something to do with his getting their police chief sent to prison. We’re never told the whys and wherefores. Yet his best friend is Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips), owner and operator of a restaurant and bar, who works behind the scenes as Longmire’s liaison in Indian affairs.

Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips)

Robert Taylor as the tough and grizzled Walt Longmire looks like he was born to play this part, as if casting had conjured up just the DNA for his character. And what a role reversal for Taylor, who is best known for his portrayal of Agent Jones in The Matrix.

And also what a refreshing way to bring back the beloved Western to television — with heart and character, originality and great writing – not to mention a superb cast. Longmire debuted June 3, 2012, and, according to Wikipedia, was “A&E’s number one original premiere of all time”.

Watch “Longmire” on A&E on Sunday night at 10/9C.

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