In a world where Justified already exists, do we really need another ripped-from-a-crime-novel TV show about a rural lawman solving cases and dispensing justice all with a tip of his trademark cowboy hat? Based on the new Wyoming-set drama Longmire, the answer is no, not really. This shrug of a series (adapted from a mystery franchise by Craig Johnson) premiered last night on A&E and left little to no impression on us, despite the fact that it features Katee Sackoff in one of her most significant roles since Battlestar Galactica. And while we'll always carry a torch for Starbuck, her performance in Longmire is a lot like the show itself: completely forgettable.
It's worth noting that Sackoff isn't the titular star of the show; that would be Aussie actor Robert Taylor, who plays Absaroka County, WY sheriff Walter Longmire. In the pilot episode, we learn that this tough-minded cop is a year removed from the death of his wife and still carries the emotional pain of that loss. As if that's not enough of a challenge, he's also facing a new rival to his elected office in the form of Branch Connally (Bailey Chase), a deputy with grand designs for his career. At least he knows he can depend on his deputy, recent transplant Vic (Sackhoff), and longtime friend Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips) to have his back in the field and off the clock respectively. Longmire's re-election campaign and the death of his wife will obviously be season-long storylines dropped in amidst the usual case-of-the-week stuff, which in the pilot involved the discovery of... what else, a dead body. The ensuing investigation introduces other expository elements of Longmire's world (an estranged adult daughter, the fact that he doesn't carry a cell phone, a Native American community that doesn't particularly get along with the sheriff's office) and the occasional chase sequence and/or shoot-out. In other words, it's all the usual crime drama stuff, just down in a different setting against some admittedly stunning scenery, albeit courtesy of New Mexico rather than actual Big Sky country.
So yeah, if pretty backdrops are all Longmire has to offer, you can probably count us out for the duration of its ten-episode run. However, we have a few suggestions (some serious, some fun) for ways they can fine-tune the show to capture our attention. Otherwise, we'll just wait patiently for Justified's return.
Find Their Own Boyd Crowder: Raylan Givens may be the hero of Justified, but the racist crook-turned-born again Chrisitian-turned crook again is its most fascinating character. Since Longmire has already borrowed a lot from its FX counterpart, it may as well make room for the Wyoming equivalent of a Boyd. He (or she) will almost certainly be more interesting than the supposed hero.
Bring Longmire's Wife Back from the Dead: Not in a soap opera-ish "Oh, I was just faking my death!" kind of way, mind you. We want her to return as a zombie, a vampire or some other kind of supernatural creature. It would be like the Rick/Lori relationship on The Walking Dead if Lori were constantly trying to eat Rick's tiny, tiny brain.
Let Sackhoff Be More than Just the Sidekick: It would be a real shame if all that the Galactica's best Viper pilot gets to do on this show is walk behind Longmire explaining the details of the crime scene. As the later seasons of BSG demonstrated, her skills go well beyond that. And actually, her stint on the otherwise lame Bionic Woman remake proved that she has the stuff to be a great villain. Instead of working with Longmire, how about she work against him?
Make Absaroka County More Like Pawnee or Springfield: No, Longmire doesn't have to become a live-action (or animated) sitcom. But the writers would be wise to populate this community with some memorable supporting personalities, because God knows the main cast are boring as all get out.
Give Longmire a Talking Dog: Just because talking dogs are awesome. (Bonus points if Patrick Warburton provides the voice.) Which reminds us that we need to watch Up again real soon.
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