June 11, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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A lot can happen between the creation of a TV pilot in the spring and the production of episodes for the regular season: a writing/producing team is hired, audience focus groups weigh in, networks and studios (which may have had their own turnover) give plenty of notes, helpful and otherwise, and critics begin to rear their ugly heads. The results can include changes to tone, pace, casting, and even story. Here at THE SKED, we’re going to look past the pilots and present reviews of the first regular season episodes as well.


Previously, on LONGMIRE… Recently widowed Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) is the sheriff in a small Wyoming town.  He has a good deputy, Vic (Katee Sackhoff), who moved to town from the big city, and a less good deputy, the ambitious Branch (Bailey Chase), who’s running against him for sheriff.  Doggedly and politely, with little patience or interest in new-fangled crimesolving methods, Walt finds out who’s to blame when there’s a crime in his territory.

Episode 2:  LONGMIRE was even more of a pure procedural in its second episode than it was in its premiere.  The one seemingly continuing storyline, the challenge to Walt’s reelection by sneaky Branch, seemed to be forgotten.  It’s not clear whether that will come back, but the closing minutes of the episode offered an alternative:  having teased us all episode with the question of who Walt’s daughter Cady’s (Cassidy Freeman) new boyfriend might be, we discovered at the very end that he was–guess who–Branch.  (There doesn’t seem to be anyone else age-appropriate in town, so Cady seemingly had little alternative.)

The vast bulk of the episode, though, written by Sarah Nicole Jones and directed by Michael Uppendahl, was a straightforward crime story.  A local stripper found dead by the side of the road was discovered to be a Mennonite on rumspringa, the period when the community’s young people are let out into the world and permitted to decide whether they want to enjoy the fruits of sin or come back to their cloistered families.  Suspicion was cast on several people in town who might have been taking advantage of her, but in the end, the girl was found to have died in an accident.

Longmire is about as basic as a procedural can be, with few characters, little technology, and hardly any subplots.  There’s just the taciturn, all-knowing Walt, his one pal Henry (Lou Diamond Phillips), Vic and Branch, and some lovely scenery.  Audiences seem to be enjoying it, though, as the Episode 2 ratings, even in 18-49s, were higher than for the premiere.  In the absence of new CBS scripted programming this summer, that network’s viewers seem to have found their bucolic landing place.

ORIGINAL VERDICT:  If Nothing Else Is On…

PILOT + 1:  Still Nothing To Get Excited About


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."