Sunday, September 23, 2012
Now this is a good show.
Longmire explores the adventures of Walt Longmire, a grizzled sheriff in Wyoming who is kind of a cross between Sherlock Holmes, Colombo, Wyatt Earp, and Yosemite Sam. The show has an interesting setting, clever storylines, a great cast, and an absolutely fantastic character. I've watched the first five or six episodes so far, and I feel pretty confident saying it's one of the best and most compelling shows I've seen in a long time. Anyway, I like it.
Our hero is played by Robert Taylor, an actor I've never heard of and I was surprised to learn was Australian when I looked him up. Honestly, this guy was so good and so convincing in the role that I assumed he was really some unknown actor from the American Midwest. Of course, it makes a certain kind of sense because Wyoming is kind of our country's Outback, but I'll still be damned if this guy didn't nail the role. Even more than just being convincing as an American, he's just a damn good actor, flawlessly playing a conflicted man who has layers upon layers of inner turmoil that we learn about as the series progresses. If this series goes on a few more years and this guy doesn't get an Emmy nomination, that would be a serious travesty since this guy is the real deal.
The rest of the cast is also a lot of fun, with a stand out supporting performance by the always fun and dependable Lou Diamond Philips as Longmire's best friend, confident, drinking buddy, and father confessor Henry Standing Bear. The performance by Philips is a bit strange at first since he takes on an affectation where he doesn't use contractions. I'm not sure if this was a decision made by Philips or if it's from the series of novels by Craig Johnson upon which the show is based, nor am I sure if this is a valid portrayal of how Cheyenne natives talk. I just now it's weird and sticks out at first, until you get into it and realize that Lou Diamond Philips is a phenomenal actor who knows exactly what he's doing and created a character who is at once alien and different by nature of his upbringing, but also honest, kind, and full of integrity. This isn't another cliched portrayal of a Native American as some kind of mystical know it all, but a real character full of quirks who simply happens to be Native American. Anyway, it's just nice to see Lou Diamond Philips again. Who doesn't love him? He's still handsome as hell and he still looks the same age he did back in Young Guns.
Longmire's deputies are played by a couple actors I've never heard of, and Katee Sackhoff, who was Starbuck on the recent remake of Battlestar Galactica. The two actors I've never heard of are very good, one of whom is very handsome while the other is fat and goofy, but both are fun and engaging. And if you've ever watched Battlestar, you know how good Katee Sackhoff is. I actually think she's gotten even more gorgeous since then, but unfortunately I can't tell if she's grown as an actress since her character isn't give much to do. In the first episode she was presented as an interesting and strong character, but as the series progressed they dropped most of that in favor of just sexing up the character. As a man, I didn't mind when they put her in tight jeans and kept having her shirt opened lower and lower, but as a viewer, I felt a bit cheated. There was actually a scene in a strip bar where she got some witnesses to share information after she danced on the pole. You don't have to be a feminist to have found that scene cringe-worthy, but luckily things never sunk that low again. But still.
About the stories, the best way I can describe them is that they feel like Law and Order: Wyoming, since this tiny little Midwestern county seems to have an inordinately high murder rate. Sometimes the plots seem a bit over the top and hard to swallow -- like the one where a Mexican drug cartel tries to set up a drug ring in the county -- but the best stories are the ones that deal with the local Indian reservation, since no other TV show in recent memory has dealt with those kinds of stories or those kinds of characters. If you're a Native American actor, you'll be praying this show is a hit since you'll be guaranteed some kind of speaking role by the time its run is over.
So that's Longmire. I'm not sure why I took so long to say this: Great show, check it out.