Sunday, July 15, 2012

Have You Watched This Series?

Longmire is a 10-week series on A&E this summer.

I have been a fan of Walt Longmire as the lead character in Craig Johnson's series of mystery books about him and his work as Absaroka Co., Wyoming, Sheriff.

I have been thoroughly enjoying the well-written, directed, and acted series which comes to episode 7 tonight at 10:00 Eastern time.  Robert Taylor (right)
plays Walt Longmire and has certainly caught the spirit of the book's star. The shot at the right is what I would have expected from Walt. The look captures who and what he is.

But in order to also get you thinking about the really excellent series of BOOKS that spawned this, let me say a few other words about what you will find there that, so far, has not been on TV.

Native American spirituality and a Western US Magic Realism. In almost every one of the 8 books in the series Walt comes face to face with forces and visions beyond the every day realm. Whether it is ghost warriors or talking crows, his visions give a side to the spirit of the Western states that is missing on TV. Maybe they were afraid that such things would work against the TV series, and they may be right. But it is a truly refreshing and unusual viewpoint presented without explanation. It is simply part of the landscape- and Walt accepts it that way.

The other piece missing from the TV series that is outstanding in the book is the deep and lengthy relationship between Walt and his best friend, Henry Standing Bear, a local Cheyenne that Walt regularly refers to as "The Cheyenne Nation." At one point in book 8 (just out last month), Henry is described as what the things of the night are afraid of. Sadly that has not been shown on TV yet. Lou Diamond Phillips as Henry looks just too young for the wise and rambunctious Henry. Phillips does well, but the racial tension between Henry and Walt on the TV is NOT the same as in the books. Johnson in the books makes them a yin/yang friendship, each providing what the other isn't.

With all that, Longmire, the TV series is worth the weekly hour. The scenery is as much a part of the story as the characters. And I get the sense that as the series goes on it may just begin to find the same Magic Realism of spirituality that Johnson has mined so richly. They are building a great story line and I fear a real cliffhanger that will drive me crazy until next year.

I am looking forward to it.

(BTW, here is a good article on Criminal Element interviewing Longmire Staff Writer Sarah Nicole Jones)

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