Pilot Perception: Longmire

Welcome to Pilot Perception, our new feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.

The Show: Longmire, A&E, Sundays at 10/9c

The Pedigree: The show is based on a series of books by Craig Johnson, and the pilot was written and executive produced by Hunt Baldwin (The Closer) and John Coveny (The Closer, Trust Me). Other executive producers include Michael M. Robin and Greer Shephard (The Closer, Nip/Tuck). Directors include Alex Graves (The West Wing, Journeyman) and Christopher Chulack (ER, Southland, Third Watch).

The Cast & How You Know Them: Longmire stars Robert Taylor (The Matrix, Ballykissangel), Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica, 24), Lou Diamond Phillips (Numb3rs, Stargate Universe), Bailey Chase (Saving Grace, Buffy), Cassidy Freeman (Smallville, The Vampire Diaries), and Adam Bartley (Chuck, Justified).

The Premise: Walt Longmire is a recently-widowed Wyoming sheriff who is trying to deal with his grief while keeping up with his duties and running for reelection against a young deputy.

A Taste:

What Works: Overall, I thought this was a strong pilot, and it definitely made me want to keep watching. Robert Taylor does a good job of making Walt a sympathetic and upstanding character without making him boring or unrealistically perfect, and Katee Sackhoff’s Vic, his deputy who’s a big-city transplant, is the perfect foil for him, and an interesting character in her own right: What’s she doing in Wyoming, anyway? (I was worried that Sackhoff’s role on Battlestar Galactica was so iconic that it would be distracting trying to watch her play a different part, but she pulled it off.) The scenery is beautiful, and the show has a very strong sense of place.

What Doesn’t: The characters other than Walt and Vic aren’t particularly developed yet, but I assume that will improve in time. There’s a chance that Walt’s grief, while understandable, will lead to some repetitive behavior – his daughter is worried about him! He lets his grief affect his dealings with victims’ families! – but as long as they let him have continued character development, they should be able to avoid the one-note effect I fear. And the case of the week was fine but not particularly fascinating; honestly, I only ask cases of the week to be fascinating when I’m not already hooked by the characters, setting, and atmosphere, so we’ll see how that goes.

Our Favorite Line: Vic: “Walt? Whatcha doing?” Walt: “Thinking. I do that sometimes before I talk.”

Other Items of Note: If you’d like to read the books that inspired the show, the title of the first one is The Cold Dish.

You Might Like This if you like procedurals that revolve around the strong, silent type. In tone, the show reminded me of Justified transplanted to somewhere with more snow and sheep and less drug traffic (at least so far). And Walt Longmire himself, as a quiet, widowed, sometimes painfully correct lawman, brought to mind Christopher Foyle of the great BBC series Foyle’s War.

If You’re Interested: A&E is replaying the pilot several times this week, so check your local listings. Episode two will air Sunday, June 10 at 10/9c.

(Photo courtesy of A&E.)

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