Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pilot Review: Longmire

Longmire (A&E)
Premiered June 3 at 10pm

This is one show about which I would never have heard had it not been for the plastering of advertisements all across New York City. A&E is a network that rarely ventures into scripted original series, and two of its most recent series, “The Cleaner” and “Breakout Kings,” enjoyed generally successful runs before being cancelled at their end of their second seasons. “The Glades” made it to season three, and airs as this show’s lead-in. Now, the network is trying for a new, old-fashioned spin on something very conventional. Police procedurals come in many shapes and sizes, and this one just happens to be set in the state of Wyoming. That gives it a very laidback, distanced feel, somewhat like Kentucky in “Justified” but with less intelligent criminals and an even gruffer lawman. As a lead character, Sheriff Walt Longmire is relatively inaccessible, and his occasional moments of honesty about the death of his ex-wife don’t help that too much. It’s much more exciting to see Katee Sackhoff, best known for playing loudmouth pilot Starbuck on “Battlestar Galactica,” as his deputy Vic, full of personality and energy. It’s a good part for her also, putting her in an entirely different setting. It’s also nice to see Cassidy Freeman move out of Metropolis to a place more like Smallville after playing Tess Mercer in the CW series’ latter seasons. There’s nothing especially clever or creative about this show, but it could be a fun summer distraction when not much else is on, and a great opportunity to see Sackhoff back on the small screen.

How will it work as a series? Procedurals lend themselves to easy plotting, and Wyoming offers a setting for specific crimes and villains that can go head-to-head with and then fall to the sheriff. The Native American presence should also add considerable drama to the mix, and there won’t be any shortage of conflicts or crime to be found on this series.
How long will it last? Fortunately, the pilot ratings were the best the network has ever seen for a series premiere, which suggests that the show will be around for a while. Having one cop in Florida and another in Montana back-to-back is great for the network, so I imagine they’ll want to get this winning pair renewed as soon as possible.

Pilot grade: B-

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