How many people started to binge-watch the entire fourth season of Longmire when it was released on Sept. 10 on Netflix?
I confess I did, or rather am in the process of going through each episode, relishing the return of Wyoming Sherriff Walt Longmire, so winningly played by Robert Taylor.
The TV series—I think we still call it TV even if it is not on a conventional television network—is based on the novels by Craig Johnson.
If you haven’t binged—what are you waiting for? And if you haven’t discovered this series—what are you waiting for?
Longmire perfectly captures the spirit of the novels’ sense of place and character, a melding of the Old West and the contemporary West.
Longmire is set in Absaroka County, a fictional place in Wyoming, often described by Johnson as “the least-populated county in the least-populated state in America.”
For those who don’t know, Longmire’s move to Netflix is the result of fans making it clear that they loved this series and wanted to spend more time with Walt and friends.
Longmire became almost an instant hit in 2012 for A&E, becoming its most-watched series, attracting an estimated average of 5.6 million viewers by Season 3.
The cast was letter-perfect with Robert Taylor as Walt Longmire, Katee Sackhoff as Victoria “Vic” Moretti, Lou Diamond Phillips as Henry Standing Bear, and A Martinez as Jacob Nighthorse.
Then the unthinkable happened.
Despite its high ratings, A&E canceled Longmire just after Season 3 ended.
Network executives gave different reasons. One statement stated that the show wasn’t profitable because A&E didn’t own it, Warner Horizon did; another statement was the advertisers wanted to reach younger audiences and “undervalue older-skewing shows,” according to news stories that quoted an unnamed source.
Whatever the reason, fans were not having it and sent emails, letters, and launched online campaigns to rescue Longmire. Three months later, Netflix announced it would be picking up Longmire’s fourth season.
(For more information, be sure to get a copy of the next issue of Mystery Scene, which will have an interview with Craig Johnson, Robert Taylor, and A Martinez.)
And that brings us to this new season of Longmire.
Without giving away any plot points, fans of the series will be more than pleased with this reboot of Longmire.
The stories have a bit more depth now. At A&E, the episodes were limited to 42 minutes—commercials need the room, you know. On Netflix, the episodes are 60 minutes, and that extra time makes all the difference. The writers use these extra minutes wisely, creating an even tighter story.
Season 4 picks up immediately where Season 3 left off. If you haven’t seen Season 3 yet, here is a kind of spoiler: Walt has just found out who is behind the murder of his wife and he wants revenge. Meanwhile, former deputy Branch Connally (Bailey Chase) confronts a suspected killer; then a gun is fired.
And the new season starts off from there.
Netflix should prove a welcoming home for Longmire. A fifth season is required.
Photos: top, Robert Taylor as Walt Longmire; bottom, Taylor with Katee Sackhoff as Victoria “Vic” Moretti. Netflix photos
The best fiction mirrors reality, showing us who we are as well as intricacies of the areas in which we live.
Mystery fiction does this so well.
How many people really discovered Sweden after Stieg Larsson showed us the dark side of that country, unleashing more international authors to show us their views of their homelands?
A recent story in the New York Times showed this intersection of fact and fiction. The travel story was about how northwest North Dakota has been come a boom area because of the oil-rich fields.
I already knew about this renewed drilling that was causing small towns to explode with new residents.
A scattering of “man camps” meant to house the workers, most of whom are male, because the infrastructure couldn’t keep up with the population.
How the 24-hour rumble of trucks disrupts the two-lane roads. How rents have gone sky high and restaurants and bars are overfilled each day.
I learned all this in C.J. Box’s latest novel Badlands (Minotaur).
The Edgar-winning Box has proven to be an excellent chronicler of life in the west. In Badlands, he takes a break from his best-selling series about Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett to show an area under siege by its own growth.
In Badlands, the area’s history takes a back seat to the progress that threatens a quiet way of life.
And, of course, Badlands is a compelling crime fiction that also shows how crime and violence have a way of quickly seeping in.
Box packs Badlands with myriad details about how this area is adjusting—where, as I said in my review, the prairie now “roared” with trains and tankers. “Millions of barrels of oil bound for every corner of the country.”
But the landscape is only part of Box’s Badlands. His sturdy, well-rounded characters are a major part.
Instead of Joe Pickett, Badlands revolves around Cassandra “Cassie” Dewell, last seen in Box’s terrifying The Highway, who becomes the new chief investigator in the area.
Once again, fact and fiction merge.