I haven’t done a Crime Drama Commentary in a while, not because I don’t watch them anymore (it’s almost all I watch), but because I’m lazy. Too bad, too. Maybe if I’d done one on Common Law, they wouldn’t have canceled it. (Unlikely, I know. But seriously, canceling that show was the biggest television travesty since the cancelation of Firefly. If you didn’t watch it, go check it out now. Then mourn the fact that it never had a second season.)
But this post isn’t about Common Law. It’s about Longmire. And since I’m gearing up to watch the season finale, I thought it was time to resurrect my Crime Drama Commentary.
In a world of big-city, high-tech law shows, A&E’s Longmire is a breath of fresh, western air. It’s just wrapping up its second season, and it keeps getting better. I think my husband was skeptical when I first added this show to our DVR queue, but he’s become a big fan, and it’s jumped to the top of our “watch now” list. And here are the top five reasons you should be watching it, too.
#5. Branch Connally: While I imagine Branch will eventually become more of an ally than an adversary, in the first two seasons, Branch is Longmire’s second in command, his frienemy, and the character the viewers love to hate. He’s cocky, arrogant, and (if you can get past the distinct lack of lips) not too hard on the eyes. But for all of Branch’s faults, he’s not without morals. He’s a man caught between two worlds: his family and their dirty politics on one side, and Walt Longmire’s old-fashioned sense of duty on the other. He obviously respects Walt, but he can’t quite let go of his own ambitions. Branch also has a soft side, especially when it comes to Longmire’s daughter, Katee, and he brings in lots of potential conflict for future seasons due to his family connections. I can’t wait to see what they do with his character.
#4. Brett Farvre Is the Sheriff: (This is my husband’s nickname for the show.) Walt Longmire is strong, extremely flawed, but ultimately a very likable protagonist. He’s brooding, cranky, utterly devoted to his daughter and his dead wife, with just a touch of dry humor thrown in. He’s a dying breed, noble to a fault, and makes a good anchor for the rest of the cast. And he really does look a lot like Brett Farvre.
(See? The resemblance is uncanny, isn’t it?)
#3. Lou Diamond Phillips as Henry Standing Bear: In my opinion, Lou Diamond Phillips doesn’t get enough credit as an actor. He’s been pigeon-holed a bit since Young Guns, but this time, it actually works for him. He’s absolutely brilliant as Henry Standing Bear.
Henry is Walt Longmire’s best friend. He’s the Wilson to Longmire’s House, loyal and forgiving, but he takes none of the Longmire’s shit, and he’s always willing to make Walt face the stupidity of his actions. He provides a lot of comic relief, but his character also has real depth and provides a nice link between the Sheriff’s office and the Native Americans who live on “the Rez.”
#2. Taking crime television back to the basics: Longmire is a throwback to old-fashioned detective shows. The underlying premise of the show is “limited resources.” This is Small Town, USA. There are no teams of experts, no instant DNA results, no all-knowing medical examiners, and no mass spectrometer analysis of microscopic bits of evidence. Just a few cops running around, trying to solve murders. (Yes, there are an awful lot of murders for such a tiny speck on the map, but hey, this is television, after all. There’s always a bit of suspension of disbelief.)
And at last, the #1 reason you should be watching Longmire:
#1. Victoria ‘Vic’ Moretti: In many ways, Vic is both the brains and the brawn of the show. A homicide detective from Philadelphia, transplanted to Wyoming for reasons that are only now being divulged, Vic is the glue that holds this show together. She has the experience to back up her actions, the strength to deal with a bunch of Good Ole Boys on their own terms, and a no-bullshit attitude that’s refreshing. She’s tough without being an unrealistic Superwoman stereotype, and unlike the female detectives in every other show, she doesn’t show up for work looking like a fashion plate.
Although Vic and Walt are obviously very loyal to each other, I like that the show doesn’t blatantly play them against each other in a romantic way. There are small hints that they’re leaving that option open, but for now, they’re just two cops, backing each other up, which is nice. Too often, I think cop shows jump to a romantic angle way too fast (another reason Common Law was so superb — it threw the gauntlet down with regard to that trope). Vic and Walt manage to be protective of one another without acting like moonstruck calves. It’s a nice change of pace.
(How exactly do moon-struck calves act, anyway?)
So there it is: the top five reasons you should be watching Longmire. Season two ends tonight, but you can find the first season on Netflix. (And I sure hope it’s picked up for a third season.)