(Originally written on Sept 24, 2014)
This fall, I was watching the season finale last evening of Dallas on TNT. My “guilty pleasure” tie to Dallas comes from long ago … when we all thought JR Ewing was such a lovable villain.
As the show ended, my wife Lulu (who is not a real fan of Dallas) asked … “has it been renewed?” I don’t know. No idea. And, I really don’t care. If it’s there, I’ll probably watch, but if not, I’ll watch something else. It’s that way with virtually all of the TV shows on the air right now. OK to watch, but if they disappear, it’s really no big deal for me. Another good example .. CSI: NY. I really enjoyed the show and totally respect star Gary Sinise’s work with veterans. But, when it left CBS I really didn’t fixate on it.
But, Longmire is different. Why?
For me, it’s a combination of factors. It starts, of course, with Craig Johnson’s books and his wonderful ability to weave a good story. Reading his books is like an escape to a simpler time and place where values remain more important than technology. A place where imperfect people live, work, love and, sometimes, die. All built around a core of characters who we can identify with.
Of course, the TV series really doesn’t follow Craig’s story lines. The show has it’s own storyline and has managed to carve out a “world” that is both engaging and honest. It’s full of people we can respect (Walt, Vic, Henry, Ferg, Cady, Lucian, Mathias) while at the same time showing us folks with a dark side as well (Branch, Jacob, Barlow). The writing has been nothing less than suburb, the acting is natural and engaging, and the producers have made sure that the cinematography is better than any other series on television. All of these factors combine to make Longmire’s demise all the more painful.
Longmire IS different than most series TV. It’s engaging without being “in your face.” It’s storytelling with moral values of good vs evil thrown in for good measure. It’s acting and visual images and dramatic music that is much more like a movie than a TV show. It’s stories about people we have learned to trust and who often think before talking or acting.
It is, in my opinion, the best crafted show on television and if it is not picked up by another network, it’s not only the 6 million devoted fans who have been watching that will loose out. It’s the millions more who need to be introduced to Walt and the folks in Absaroka County. They are the ones who should be reminded that good needs to triumph over evil; and honesty, and integrity, are real values that we need in our society.