May 27, 2013



LONGMIRE:  Monday 10PM on A&E

LONGMIRE may be the best CBS show not to air on CBS.  A cleanly-executed, straightforward procedural that skews old (3/4 of its viewers are over 50), it’s a show that knows what it wants to accomplish and doesn’t try to reach for more.  The Season 2 premiere, written by series creators Hunt Baldwin and John Coveny and directed by Michael Offer, indicates that the series will stay on its successful path.

The titular hero (Robert Taylor) is a strong-but-mostly-silent rural Wyoming sheriff.  One of his deputies, Branch (Bailey Chase), is both running against him for election to the Sheriff position and dating Longmire’s daughter Cady (Cassidy Freeman).  The other, Vic (Katee Sackhoff, operating at a fraction of her capacity), is a hot-headed Philadelphia native.  Longmire has one friend and confidante, Henry (Lou Diamond Phillips), who owns the local bar.  The only piece of mythology the show tolerates was last season’s revelation that Longmire’s wife didn’t die of cancer, as he’d told everyone (including Cady), but was murdered, in an as-yet unexplained way that’s connected to a Denver meth dealer (the implication is that Longmire has killed that dealer).

Mostly, though, Longmire is an updated western, concerned with its lawman’s story of the week.  Tonight’s was a beautifully shot (on New Mexico locations) hour in which Longmire went off into a blizzard, single-handledly and on foot, to track down an escaped serial killer who’d taken an FBI agent hostage.  There was little plot beyond the basic situation (one of the other hostages turned out to have been working with the escapee), and much of the episode concentrated instead on Longmire vs. the elements and his inner demons, including visitations by images of a boy Longmire knew who had become one of the killer’s victims, a lawyer who’d confronted Longmire about the Denver dealer, and Longmire’s daughter (who may have gone missing since last season ended).

Taylor provides a much more effective version of the kind of character Dennis Quaid was supposed to have been playing on the late Vegas, a taciturn, dryly humorous cop who’s easy to underestimate.  The supporting players have much less to do (you can almost feel Katee Sackhoff chomping at her bit), but the physical surroundings contribute very effectively to the atmosphere, and the show is unpretentious meat and potatoes entertainment.

Longmire and Bates Motel give A&E contrasting ends of the viewership spectrum:  Bates gets a 50% higher rating that Longmire in viewers under 50, but Longmire has almost 1.5M more total viewers.  As the network would doubtless contend, both work.  With CBS adhering to its usual summer strategy of predominantly reruns, this is the season for others to take its field, and Longmire does a solid job of satisfying that audience.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."