The Internet is in an uproar over the cancellation of the A&E show “Longmire” over the Labor Day weekend. A quick glance at the A&E Facebook Page shows hundreds of posts featuring #LongliveLongmire and #BringbackLongmire. T.V. guy Jim Colucci said during his television report on the Frank DeCaro show (OutQ Gay Radio – Sirus XM 106) Tuesday that A&E has a long history of releasing news they know won’t be popular on holiday weekends. Colucci also mentioned that “Longmire” was the network’s highest rated scripted show.
So what led to the cancellation?
According to Colucci, viewer numbers fell dramatically between seasons two and three. What led to the drop in viewership is anyone’s guess at this point. My guess is that it strayed too far from the books for existing fans while losing the spirit of the original characters.
I am self-described as mostly a fan of the Walt Longmire series (see my review of “As the Crow Flies” by clicking here). The show is quite different from the series from characterizations by the actors to story lines. Lou Diamond Phillips does an admirable “Cheyenne Nation” though I don’t believe he’s ever referred to as such in the narrative. A better actor for the smooth ladies man might have been the man who plays the key bad guy, Jacob Nighthorse (A. Martinez). Casting agents would have been wise to switch the roles played by Cassidy Freeman (Cady) and Katee Sackhoff (Vic). Katee Sackhoff’s constant smirk discredits this truly, always pissed-off female character, while there’s little of the soft daddy’s girl in Freeman’s acting style (Walt’s daughter, Cady, is more in the show than the novels). Robert Taylor, in my opinion, was the perfect man to play Walt.
I watched more out of obligation to the story line, and an author and the characters I liked, rather than out of an actual desire to watch the show. “Longmire” was a good show, but quite heavy in its subject matter infrequently taking the time for any light. In the third season we saw Henry (Lou Diamond Phillips) arrested for murder, Vic (Katee Sackhoff) and her husband taken hostage and tortured, Branch going crazy after an ambush seeing dead people and a corrupt police detective using a death for his own self-promotion. To paraphrase Colucci’s comment about another show, watching Longmire becomes like eating vegetables. Something I knew should be done but never did I say, “I get to watch Longmire tonight! How exciting!”
So why, you might ask, is this show clearly so popular with A&E viewers that they’re spamming the Facebook page in support of a return? Whatever its faults, the stories and characters had heart and meat not seen on the scripted reality shows of the network. “Duck Dynasty” may have a spirit of family connection through comedy, but the show is the same every week and A&E’s new show “Epic Ink” may have cool art, but what they don’t have is the real feel of drama. Sound odd to you? Think about it. Do you want to watch different people stunned by cool tattoo they got every week, or do you want to watch Walt spar with the sheriff on the Reservation? Worse, what if the Reservation’s corrupt ex-sheriff, played expertly by Graham Greene, gets out of jail and comes back to make Walt’s life hell?
Quality never goes out of style. Jim Colucci said in his segment that the production company behind the show is aggressively shopping it to other networks so the much beloved Walt could return to the small screen.