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A&E’s drama series Longmire
brings an old-time Western feel to the modernday
police show.

The series stars Robert Taylor as Walt Longmire,
the conflicted sheriff of cozy Absaroka
County, Wyo. Struggling with the death of his wife
— whose ashes he keeps in a tea box — the
oft-depressed Longmire has recently slacked off
in his lawman duties. As such, much of the county’s
mundane, day-to-day policing has been left
to his deputies, “Vic” Moretti (Katee Sackhoff)
and Branch Connally (Bailey Chase).

When two dead bodies (one a sheep and one
an unidentified male) are discovered on a snowy
mountain nearby, Longmire is forced to get back
on the saddle to solve the crime. The trail of
clues takes Longmire to a nearby Indian reservation
where he encounters a hostile police force
distrustful of the lawman. It will be interesting to
see how the animosity between the sheriff’s department
and the cops on the Indian reservation
develops throughout the series.

In an effort to talk to a potential source on the
reservation, Longmire turns to longtime friend
Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips) to
broker the meeting. The information leads Longmire
to discover some serious illegal activity
within the borders of his county. The revelation
forces Longmire to realize that he’s slowly been
falling down on his duties during the year since
his wife’s death. He gets affirmation on his decline
from Henry, who, on the car ride back from
the reservation, doesn’t hesitate to answer in the
positive Longmire’s inquiry as to whether he’s
“lost a step.”

Faced with loneliness and heartache, a growing
crime problem in his county and an unexpected
challenge to his sheriff’s position by the
politically ambitious Connally, Longmire nevertheless
taps into his pride and sharp skills as a veteran
lawmaker to eventually solve the crime and
to start putting his life back together.

Longmire’s character is intriguing, if not complicated
— the pilot draws a picture of a strong, nononsense-
but-caring sheriff with some significant
character flaws. It’s hard not to like a guy who
picks up empty beer cans and other litter off the
street, and who doesn’t own a mobile phone.

Fans of non-stop, good-guy/bad-guy shoot-’emup
action will have to temper their expectations
as Longmire looks to entice viewers through a
slow storyline and character build that eventually
pays off in the end.

Still, it wouldn’t hurt the series if it picked up
the pace a bit in future episodes.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.