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Thursday, August 14, 2014

'Longmire' S1 & S2 DVD: Modern Old West Sheriff Facing 21st Century Issues

Longmire S1 & S2 (BD)
The Warner Archive Blu-ray release of the first and second season of the intriguing A&E police mystery series "Longmire" nicely coincided with the broadcast premiere of the third season of this series several weeks ago. The extenuating circumstances regarding the criminally negligent delay in posting this review include wanting to watch every 23 45-minute episodes in the set before sharing thoughts on the program.

Another nice bit of timing regarding this release  is that it comes a few weeks ahead of the Archive double-feature DVD release of the Unreal TV reviewed '30 Arsene Lupin noir comedies. "Longmire" is based on the Walt Longmire mysteries by Craig Johnson, and the older films are based on the Lupin novels by Maurice Leblanc.

The genuinely panoramic opening scene in the pilot episode of the series about rural Wyoming sheriff Walt Longmire removes any doubt regarding whether buying the series in blu-ray is worth the money. Imaging any more beautiful scenery or clearer depiction of it is difficult.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of an A&E promo. provides a tasty sample of the "Longmire" themes discussed below. The overall idea is that even Andy Taylor would need to deal with organized crime families if he was sheriff of Mayberry these days.

The initial offering is typical of the remaining ones from the first and second seasons in that it has someone who discovers a body calling in Longmire and his team to investigate. This extraordinary incidence of killings makes one wonder about how the murder rate can be so high in such an isolated  area.

The murder this time may relate to a mobile prostitution organization that features young native American girls from the local reservation; this aspect of the story provides a means to introduce the element of the regular theme of the adversarial nature of the relationship between  Longmire and the head of the police force for the reservation.

Numerous other episodes that depict that animosity specifically and also often include the mutual general prejudice between folks whose ancestors were born in this country and those whose recorded roots begin in Europe address topics that range from white families adopting supposedly mistreated native American children, to race possibly playing a role in both the trial of white teens charged with raping a native American girl and a subsequent private campaign for justice, to manipulations by a tribal council regarding the distribution of casino profits.

More general rural-themed crimes include ones in which an illegal rodeo, fracking, and a medicinal supplement that has Elk innards as an active ingredient are factors.

Plots that relate to big city problems invading rural Wyoming include a murder of an exotic dancer, an investigation that uncovers the existence of a cult, and a gang that is illegally selling prescription painkillers.

All of this shows that the titular sheriff must contend with the worst of all worlds in performing his law-enforcement duties. On top of this, the fall-out from the death of his wife makes things difficult.

Deputy Branch Connally is focusing on the impact of that loss (and the general reluctance of Longmire to embrace cell phones and other 21st century technology) in his bid to oust his boss as sheriff. On top of that, the circumstances regarding the death of Mrs. Longmire come back to haunt Walt throughout both seasons.

Truly international actor Robert Taylor does a nice job portraying the quiet and private nature of the titular hero; he truly seems like a 19th century lawman who is slowly but surely adapting to life in the 2010s.

The supporting cast is a fanboy dream come true. Katee Sackhoff of "Battlestar Galactica" plays favored (transported from the big city) deputy Victoria "Vic" Moretti as a less intense and aggressive (but just as vulnerable near the surface) version of Starbuck.

The scifi cred of Lou Diamond "La Bomba" Phillips relates to his starring role in "SGU Stargate Universe." His Henry Standing Bear in "Longmire" has him being a very stoic best friend/adviser/tracker to childhood friend Longmire.

Seeing Henry get embarrassed when a girlfriend calls a tapped line at his bar is one of the best scenes in the first two "Longmire" seasons. A related joke "at least we know that the equipment works" is indisputably the funniest line in these episodes.

The scifi theme continues with casting Cassidy Freeman of "Smallville" as Walt's daughter Cady; like the hard-nosed Tess, Cady getting a sense that her father is withholding information regarding the death of her mother prompts an investigation that costs her a great deal and contributes to the second-season cliffhanger.

The conclusion regarding all this crime and general drama is that the twist of throwing a troubled old school Wyoming sheriff into the filthy world that we all inhabit makes for highly entertaining television that should have everyone rushing to buy the S1 and S2 BD set and counting down the days until Archive releases S3.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding Longmire is encouraged to use 21st century technology to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.