Sunday, June 2, 2013

Longmire Is Not Your Dad's Matt Dillon

A&E Network
Monday Nights
With Robert Taylor, Katee Sackhoff,
Lou Diamond Phillips, Cassidy Freeman
Created for TV by John Coveny and Hunt Baldwin
Three Scoops of Bosco

Reviewed by Allen Bacon, The Daily Bosco

The 2012-2013 Televison Seasons might partly be remembered as the return of the Western State Sheriff or Series about Sheriffs  in the Western Region of the United States to Primetime Television. (See our review of Vegas)

The latest of these starts it's Second Season Monday night on the A&E Network.

Longmire is based on the best selling Western Crime/Mystery book series by Craig Johnson and takes place in the fictional Abasaroka County of Wyoming.

Let me get this out of the way first.  Sheriff Walt Longmire, played by Robert Taylor (The Matrix) is no Matt Dillon.  I can't imagine Matt Dillon of Gunsmoke haunted by Demons and seeing imaginary people (like Charles Dutton) talking to him.

But Taylor does kinda, sorta physically look like James Arnaz (Who played Sheriff Matt Dillon on television) and walks and carries himself like James Arnaz, so he's got that going for him.

The words "Crime Mystery Drama" (used to describe both this series and the books) here is a bit of a misnomer because, in the first episode of this season at least, there is no mystery to be solved.  There is a convict, being transported from Montana through Wyoming who escapes and a chase scene insues.  But there is no actual mystery to solve.

There is, however, a "fight to the death" scene in the freezing snow of the mountains at the end of the first episode with the two characters almost slowly killing each other by way of Hypothermia. That may be a first on Primetime Television. I'm not sure.

One of the things that is enjoyable about this series is the scenery and cinematography which is shot in the Mountains of New Mexico which brings up a question.  Why not just either shoot the film in Wyoming like where it is supposed to take place or make the series based in New Mexico?

That's kind of like having Lou Diamond Philips (La Bamba, Stand and Deliver), a Latino, playing a Native American.  Oh wait, he does here.  Phillips here basically plays the same character type as he has been playing recently on television in shows like Numb3rs with this cool, smug,  know-it-all attitude.  Actually he's been doing that his whole career. Remember Stand and Deliver?

This show is pretty formulaic in it's characters and are throwbacks to other shows that have gone before.

Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Gallactica) plays Victoria Moretti, a transplant from Big City Philadelphia working in a rural town (remember Northern Exposure?).  Adam Bartley plays "The Ferg" a bumbling deputy (Remember Barney Fife?) and Bailey Chase (Saving Grace) who plays the ambitious wannabe Sherriff and good looking Deputy that slept with Walt Longmire's Daughter. (Insert half a dozen shows there for an example).

Each of the characters are played with a detached coolness which would be ok mixed with the location if there were actually mysteries to be solved.  Which would make this show look like Twin Peeks

Nobody asked me for advise on this, and this may happen in future episodes, but there needs to be real mysteries to be solved on this show, a who dunnit,  and then the producers of the show may be on to something.

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