'Longmire' Is Worth Your Time

If you're looking for fast-paced action and clever, bantering dialogue, "Longmire" isn't the show for you. Forget about fancy hi-tech forensic teams and detectives with neurotic tics that make them supernaturally destined to solve crimes. Forget about cell phones and computer databases. Think beaten up trucks and cowboy hats. Think men with guns, slow with words and fast on the draw.

Based on a series of bestelling novels by Craig Johnson, "Longmire" follows Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor), Sheriff of the fictional Absaroka County in Wyoming, who is still grieving the death of his wife the year before. The pilot shows us Walt as he finally begins to wake up out of his stupor, dragged into action mostly by his deputy Vic (played by the terrifically energetic Katee Sackhoff, in a nice contrast to Walt's slow-living), but also by a case that forces him to deal with his wife's death, and the prospect of losing his job to another of his deputies (played by the smarmy and chisel-jawed Bailey Chase) who wants to use Walt's decline to his own advantage. Also along for the ride are his concerned daughter Cady (Cassidy Freeman) and his best friend of thirty-seven years, Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips).

There isn't much plot to "Longmire," but plot isn't the showcase here. What should attract viewers to "Longmire" are its characters and its setting, the big open sky of Wyoming, which is almost a character in itself. Robert Taylor certainly isn't a Timothy Olyphant (many are comparing the show to FX's "Justified"), but that's not the point. Longmire is not Raylan Givens. Longmire is a quiet, circumspect man with a grief as wide and open as the landscape he travels, and his recovery, like everything else he does, is not going to happen quickly. In an early scene, Vic asks him what he's doing, and he replies, "Thinking. I do that sometimes before I talk." It's a moment that perfectly encapsulates the character. This is the kind of guy who gets into a serious car accident and tells his deputy that the "radio's on the fritz." The supporting characters aren't given much to do in this opening episode, but the care with which Walt has been drawn makes it easy to imagine that same care will eventually bring out the shine in the other characters as well, particularly Sackhoff, who has largely been wasted on television since "Battlestar Galactica" ended in 2009.

So yeah, "Longmire" is a police procedural with a Western point of view, but it's more interested in the human side of things than anything else, in the long slow slide of grief. As Walt tells the murder victim's wife when she asks him if he ever stops hurting, "Maybe if we could forget about them, but that's the thing . . . I don't want to forget." "Longmire" the show doesn't want to forget the past either -- it's a dwelling kind of show, and one worth checking out.

Movie & TV Awards 2018