Saturday, September 19, 2015

On My First Binge Watching Excursion: Longmire

Scott D Parker

I caught up to the 21st century this month when I ordered Netflix. Being a person who is satisfied with broadcast TV and the offerings of cable, I never felt the urge or the need to order Netflix. House of Cards is available on DVD so that was not enough to get me to join. The first chink in my armor was the debut of the series Daredevil. But I didn't jump. I figured it would land on DVD soon enough. Whatever it was that got me to order Netflix had to be something very, very special.

That turned out to be Longmire.

When the show debuted on A&E three years ago, I absolutely fell in love with it. The setting in the contemporary West enabled the show to straddle both modern crime stories with huge chunks of things you normally found in Westerns: tough sheriffs, ambitious deputies, Native Americans, conflict between Native Americans and the white man, Winchester rifles, and more. The cinematography of the show hearkened back to John Ford Westerns. The writing was stellar. One could almost go to writing school simply by studying the first three seasons of Longmire.

And then there was the acting. Robert Taylor, as Sheriff Walt Longmire, may be Australian, but I will forever see him as the rugged, straightforward speaking Sheriff of apps Absaroka County, Wyoming. There have been few actors on screen who look better in a cowboy hat than Robert Taylor.

I've never really been a huge fan of Katie Sackhoff, but her portrayal of Deputy Vic Moretti is quite good. Bailey Chase as Deputy Branch Connally possesses the type a rugged good looks and deep inner conflict entire series are based around. Adam Bartley's Deputy Ferguson, a.k.a. the Ferg, has always suffered from the funny costar syndrome in the first three seasons but he’s coming into his own now in Season 4. Lou Diamond Phillips gets the award for "actor I already knew who blew me away." His portrayal of Henry Standing Bear is stellar, and it only gets better and seasons four.

I'm not giving anything away to say that season three ended on a tremendous cliffhanger. Within moments after we faded to black at the end of season three, my wife asked me “Do you think they'll renew it?" I scoffed. "With AN ending like that, A&E has to renew it."

I was wrong.

When fans started petitioning Netflix to pick up Longmire, I had seen so few successful campaigns that I just chalked up Longmire as a fantastic series where a loyal fanbase adored it, but was cancelled too soon. I’m looking at you Firefly. When Netflix said yes, I was ecstatic. Not only would I be able to see season four of Longmire, now had a good excuse to order Netflix.

So now we come to the heart of this piece. Unlike Longmire's airing on A&E, Netflix made available all 10 episodes on one day. This is a new thing for me. I enjoy network television. I enjoy waiting a week between episodes. I enjoy the season lasting weeks not days (or even hours). Call me old-fashioned, I don't care. That's just the way I'm used to, and that’s, frankly, the way I like it. When watching LOST back in the day, it was great having six extra days to think about what you saw, talk about it over the water cooler, read what other people thought about what they saw, and then raise expectations for the next week’s episode.

I convinced the wife not to binge all episodes in one day. She’s a veteran of binge watching, having blown through Dexter, Game of Thrones, Six Feet Under, and True Blood. As a result, we have been watching Longmire for one episode a night. I have to admit, it’s pretty cool to have everything right there at your fingertips just waiting to go.

So what is it like binging on my first series? Actually pretty fun. I suppose I could extend the viewing to one day per week, but with the new network shows coming up, it'll be nice to have completed Longmire before those shows begin.

I've not reached the end of season four but I'm already hoping there will be a season five. This cast, these writers (season four may be the best written season), these cinematographers are just heads and shoulders above so much of what you see on network television. If you've never watched Longmire, I cannot recommend this series highly enough.

Be sure to come back here on Monday when Brian gives his thoughts on the actual stories and episodes of Longmire season four. Also, David Cranmer is posting his thoughts per episode over at Criminal Element.

For all of you folks out there who have already learned about binge watching and find it your preferred way to consume seasons of your favorite series, I'll leave you with a quote my wife told me at the end of watching episode one when I commented that I’d almost prefer to wait a week before watching episode two: “Get over yourself!"

1 comment:

Dana King said...

The Beloved Spouse and I are gearing up to binge Season 4 after we get through Season 1 of RAY DONOVAN. We were early adopters on LONGMIRE and are delighted to see it back.