Do you want to see a terrific cable television show that is a modern day western starring a cowboy hat wearing, no nonsense lawman who is based on a character from a best selling novel? Yeah? Then watch Justified on FX. Do you want to see a cable television show that has all those same attributes, but only manages to come off as a cheaper alternative? Yeah? Really?? Then watch Longmire. Longmire, a freshman show on A&E, just exudes that feeling you had when you were 10 years old and your parents bought you the GENERIC Apple Dapples instead of the name brand Apple Jacks. And while I admit to having a personal bias of favoritism toward Justified, there is no question that Longmire, as a whole, is simply just plain.
The cast and their performances are pretty plain as well. Katee Sackhoff, most known from Fox’s 24 and SyFy’s Battlestar Galactica, is the lone bright spot on the show. Sackhoff seems to always bring to her characters something captivating and real. However, she is only a costar here. The titular role of Longmire is played by Robert Taylor. You know, the guy from that thing with the other guy…no? Okay, yeah, I don’t know him from anything other than his role as Agent Jones in The Matrix. And his personality is about the same here. To be a star of a western your main character has to be a little fun. He can be dry and badass but still wink at the camera a bit with his coolness. Eastwood got this. Timothy Olyphant gets this. Taylor doesn’t.
What makes a western feel like a western is not just that it takes place out west. As I’ve said before, westerns are mythical. They are fairy tales about rich characters stuck in extraordinary situations facing off with one another. They possess style and fun and don’t ever take themselves completely seriously. That’s why Inglourious Basterds feels like a western. Why The Way Of The Gun feels like a western. Serenity, No Country For Old Men, Justified…they all give off that air of western. But Longmire lacks style, rich characters, and the friction of a great face off. Its just a very dry police procedural based in a western town. It tries to copy the atmosphere and the gimmick of Justified, but forgets it’s most important quality. The magic. Kick your boots up, watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.