Longmire…Books to TV…breaking it down.
Read the books (engaging by Craig Johnson)
Watched the show (engaging, with its terrific casting of a too-small crew Sheriff’s Office).
Whether in books or on TV, Walt Longmire was described by critics as the unflappable sheriff of sprawling Absaroka County, Wyoming. As expected the books are different than the show. On the TV show, Longmire was a classic, old school, modern, “Matt Dillion-esque” character, and we viewers watched and wondered what his “quiet-self” thought about, drudging through the snow and sand of the county, phone-less, usually with a lever action rifle in his hands. But, in the books, he is a first-person-narrative-character and we knew EVERY little thing he thought about.
Also in the books, Walt and Vic have sex with some regularity, something “Matt (and Miss Kitty)” didn’t worry about, but old-fashioned, “first-person-narrative-Book-Walt” was confused a bit about. And Walt’s running buddy Henry Standing Bear in the books is a GIANT, I might add, unlike Lou Diamond Phillips.
A major book-to-show difference wasn’t just Standing Bears’ size. The show failed to capture the sheer size of Walt’s county. In the books, he would hire deputies and he would hardly ever see them because the county was “gi-normus.” This is very realistic and the deputies just go to work from their distant homes and check in by radio. In the TV show these interesting enforcement elements were never explored. A shame because it could have added a depth, sub-plot to the show. There’s no way a small, handful of people without dedicated dispatchers (the TV show cast) could work that enormous turf.
The crime-solving in the show was sometimes dubious. Often, the methods they closed cases with would never lead to a successful prosecutorial conclusion. (I might add that in my 26 years of police work in Texas and Oklahoma (and overseas), I was a detective for 18 of those years, so I know about and watch for that policing stuff.) I wish they had a criminal lawyer on the writing staff to advise – “naah, that’s not going to work.”
BUT! The TV show casting was just fabulous and carried all the show’s quirks. We liked the cast, even loved them. And some of the episodes were still terrific. The AMC series was canceled along with other scripted shows because of the channel’s changing of “direction” and money worries. (And years later AMC have new scripted shows again, over-riding this mistake.) Picture-perfect, Australian Robert Taylor confessed that his performance of Walt Longmire came largely from Indiana Jones and many of Clint Eastwood western characters.
On its premiere in June 2012, the series became A&E TV’s most watched original series launch of all time with 4.1 million total viewers. While the series takes place in a fictional Wyoming county, but is filmed in and around Santa Fe, and Las Vegas, New Mexico, USA, thus giving the show a lot of southwestern looks not found way up north in Wyoming.
Odd factoid – While a guest on Conan, Jeff Garlin promoted Longmire by showing a clip from the show, instead of his own The Goldbergs. He explained, ”’Goldberg’ is a No. 3 comedy hit on TV. “Longmire needs help. I love ‘Longmire’ and I want that show to keep going.”
My wife and I switched over from AMC to watch the Netflix series and watched every show but I must say we didn’t like them as much as the “complete-one-crime-one-hour” format of the TV show. The Netflix plots got too multi-episode-long and more soap-opera-ee. And we did NOT like the ending. Nor did most of my friends.
Breaking down the “Longmire” TV show…
- Long – in that the show leaves a long, good memory of a great concept along with some terrific episodes.
- Mire – mired with a few plot missteps and plot problems.
No matter what, I still miss the show. The very idea of the show, the old episodic version. And I still l read the Longmire books.