Longmire: The Complete First and Second Seasons
Cinelinx saddles up for Seasons 1 and 2 of Longmire on Blu-ray!
This Warner Archive release is a Manufacture-On-Demand (MOD) Blu-ray. This title is available directly from WBShop.com by clicking here.
Murders, kidnappings, drug abuse, and dark secrets abound in Absaroka County, Wyoming. Sorting it all out is perhaps the last true cowboy left in the West, Sheriff Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor). At his side is a new deputy with a secret past (Katee Sackhoff), an ambitious deputy that wants his job (Bailey Chase) and an old friend from the nearby reservation (Lou Diamond Phillips). Also stars Cassidy Freeman.
This six-disc Blu-ray set includes all ten episodes of the first season (discs 1 - 3) and all 13 episodes of season two (discs 4 - 6). Included in the set are 1.1 “Pilot,” 1.2 “The Dark Road,” 1.3 “A Damn Shame,” 1.4 “The Cancer,” 1.5 “Dog Soldier,” 1.6 “The Worst Kind of Hunter,” 1.7 “8 Seconds,” 1.8 “An Incredibly Beautiful Thing,” 1.9 “Dogs, Horses, and Indians,” 1.10 “Unfinished Business,” 2.1 “Unquiet Mind,” 2.2 “Carcasses,” 2.3 “Death Came In Like Thunder,” 2.4 “The Road to Hell,” 2.5 “The Party’s Over,” 2.6 “Tell It Slant,” 2.7 “Sound and Fury,” 2.8 “The Great Spirit,” 2.9 “Tuscan Red,” 2.10 “Election Day,” 2.11 “Natural Order,” 2.12 “A Good Death is Hard to Find,” and 2.13 “Bad Medicine.”
I’ve missed some pretty good television on the initial run of their first or second seasons, with Firefly, Breaking Bad, and Game of Thrones among them. I can now add Longmire, the A&E crime drama based on the series of novels by Craig Johnson, to that list. I had seen the previews and promos for the show many times, but never gave it a chance. The blu-ray set gave me the opportunity to catch up, and I quickly saw the error of my ways.
Longmire is perhaps the best undiscovered show on cable TV today, which is saying something considering the quality of programming we get these days. While it does bring in big audiences for A&E, it doesn’t get the buzz of other cable TV shows like Mad Men, The Walking Dead, and Game of Thrones, and while it doesn’t try to be as epic as those shows, it deserves just as much attention. Quietly compelling, smartly written, and expertly acted, Longmire should be appointment television. The new Blu-ray set (which includes all 23 episodes of the first and second seasons) is the perfect way for viewers to catch up, with season three having just started airing on A&E.
Set in the fictional Wyoming county of Absaroka, Longmire manages to give the crime drama a fresh twist by bringing author Craig Johnson’s book series to life with characters that feel like real people. I enjoy TV cop dramas and murder mysteries as much as the next guy, but too often, the characters are caricatures, and to wrap up each tale, lapses in logic often abound.
What makes Longmire different (and incredibly entertaining) is the solid basis in logic and realism. The show does not rely on fantastic plots with improbable crimes, although one episode involving meth-laced greeting cards was a bit of a stretch, and some of the Indian mysticism goes a bit too far. The investigations are thankfully free of the outrageous sci-fi gadgets that shows like CSI rely on. There aren’t any magical forensic teams in Absaroka County; in most episodes, Sheriff Longmire (the fantastic Robert Taylor) and his sidekick deputy Vic (the equally impressive Katee Sackhoff) have to load the body of a murder victim into the back of their pickup and take him to the morgue.
Instead of flashy edits and special effects, the show relies on good old-fashioned investigating, usually consisting of Longmire finding clues on the ground and using his gut instinct when interviewing suspects. I know that may sound boring, but trust me, it is where the magic of Longmire lies. You learn to appreciate all the attention to detail. Every step in the investigation makes logical sense, and you never feel cheated when the perpetrator is revealed in the third act.
The excellent writing is elevated by a near-perfect cast. You might not know this particular Robert Taylor, as opposed to Hollywood icon Robert Taylor, whose career spanned from the 1930s to the 1960s. In fact, the modern Robert Taylor’s best-known role prior to Longmire is as Agent Jones in The Matrix. You won’t see much of that character in Walt Longmire, but you will see echoes of classic western movie stars, including John Wayne and High Noon’s Gary Cooper. However, Taylor doesn’t ripoff or parody these actors; he has a distinctive, unique personality that seems wholly original. The “noble hero” of Walt Longmire is a refreshing departure from today’s dysfunctional heroes, and there is an authenticity in Taylor’s Longmire that most actors cannot pull off. Even more impressive is the fact that Taylor is Australian; he’s a better American icon than most Americans.
Sci-fi fans will likely geek out over the idea of The Matrix’s Agent Jones teaming up with Battlestar Galactica’s Starbuck, and in honesty, Sackhoff was likely cast in the role of Deputy Vic Moretti because of her ability to play tough, no-nonsense roles. However, Sackhoff’s Moretti is a far more developed and complicated character than Starbuck. Let’s face it, even though I am a huge fan of the new Galactica and Sackhoff in particular, her character of Starbuck was not handled well in later seasons by showrunners. In Longmire, Sackhoff shows much more range and appeal without diving into parody, as she delivers some of the best performances in her career. She’s also a nice counterbalance to Taylor’s stoic Longmire, and their relationship has great chemistry.
Providing Longmire with a kindred spirit is Lou Diamond Phillips as Henry Standing Bear, Walt’s lifelong friend and confidant. Henry is also Longmire’s best connection to the nearby Native American reservation, where the sheriff has no authority and a clash of cultures often arises. My only disappointment with Phillips’ character has been the lack of opportunities to show some emotional range. There’s a deep connection between Henry and Walt that hasn’t been explored much, but Phillips has been limited to often giving information and advice to advance the plot. His character deserves more development.
The rest of the cast is darn near perfect. Cassidy Freeman is excellent as Cady, Longmire’s daughter, who feels alienated by his inability to voice his feelings and share secrets. Bailey Chase, as Longmire’s rival Deputy Branch Connally, is able to be an antagonist with a conscience, who respects Walt but ultimately wants to replace him. Adam Bartley, who plays The Ferg, Walt’s not-ready-for-primetime deputy, injects real humanity into a character that could have been nothing more than a Barney Fife parody. Louanne Stephens, A Martinez, Gerald McRaney, and Charles S. Dutton are all fantastic in limited roles, some of which would provide plot spoilers if I delved into their characters.
Seasons one and two aren’t just defined by the “crime of the week” plots; there are several arching storylines that give the show real momentum, including an upcoming election for sheriff, a secret from Deputy Vic’s past, and the truth about the death of Walt’s wife. These storylines make Longmire a prime candidate for binge viewing.
I don’t heap such praise on a show often, but Longmire is can’t-miss television that is among the best in the medium. Other crime shows can’t even carry Walt’s boots. After giving it a try, you’ll wonder how it managed to fly under your radar for so long.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
Longmire’s beautiful backdrops are best viewed in high definition, and the transfer for the Blu-ray doesn’t disappoint. The cinematic vistas are perfectly rendered in an excellent video transfer free of artifacts. One of the special features mentions the use of RED digital video cameras to shoot the show, which is probably why the image looks so filmlike without grain and without the limitations we often see in images captured with inferior digital photography. Colors are true and show plenty of natural range, and the many nighttime shots feature consistent, inky blacks that stay solid. The audio is a 5.1 DTS-HD MA mix, with proper prominence given to the dialogue and a good balance when the music stirs.
The Blu-ray set isn’t exactly loaded with extras, but there are some satisfying behind-the-scenes featurettes and two extended episodes. It should be noted that many of the featurettes reveal plot spoilers from each season, so don’t watch them before finishing the seasons.
Disc #1 offers a 19-minute featurette called “The Camera’s Eye: Realizing the World of Longmire,” in which Director of Photography Cameron Duncan and Executive Producer Greer Shephard discuss the show’s cinematic look. Indeed, the New Mexico backdrop (which substitutes as Wyoming) is itself an important part of the cast. For the record, actual shots in Wyoming are also used throughout the show.
Disc #2 includes a 30-minute featurette, “Longmire Justice: Exploring the Cowboy Detective,” in which Robert Taylor discusses his approach to the character, and co-stars Katee Sackhoff, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Cassidy Freeman all chime in on how their characters play off of Longmire. Crew members that participate include Shephard, Hunt Baldwin (Executive Producer/Writer), and Christopher Chulack (Director, Executive Producer).
Disc #4 includes a 30-minute featurette called “Testing Courage: The Storm Defines the Man.” It’s a nice look at the travails the show’s characters experience in season two, which is a bit of a personal wringer for nearly all involved. Again, even though the featurette is on the season’s first disc, it delves into plot spoilers from later in the season, so don’t watch it until after you’ve finished the episodes.
Disc #5 includes an extended episode of “Sound and Fury” (2.7), and disc #6 includes an extended episode of "Election Day” (2.10). Both extended episodes, unlike the regular episodes, do not include subtitles.
Release date: May 27, 2014
Rating: Not rated
Running time: Season One: 443 minutes; Season Two: 560 minutes
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles: English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Special features: “The Camera’s Eye: Realizing the World of Longmire” featurette; “Longmire Justice: Exploring the Cowboy Detective” featurette; “Testing Courage: The Storm Defines the Man” featurette; Two extended episodes: “Sound and Fury” and “Election Day.”
Label: Warner Archive