'Longmire' premieres on A&E

Australian Robert Taylor plays the troubled sheriff in Australian Robert Taylor plays the troubled sheriff in A&E's new series, "Longmire," premiering June 3, 2012. Photo Credit: MCT

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REVIEW

THE SHOW "Longmire"

WHEN | WHERE Sunday at 10 p.m. on A&E

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Based on Craig Johnson's mystery series about a sheriff in the fictional Absaroka County, set in modern-day Wyoming, this one stars Aussie Robert Taylor -- probably best known as Agent Jones from "The Matrix" -- who's a sheriff still recovering from his wife's recent death.

Longmire's trusty lieutenant, Victoria "Vic" Moretti (Katee Sackhoff) is helping him in this tough time, and so is his close pal Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips). There is competition for his job, however -- devious Branch Connally (Bailey Chase) is running for county sheriff.

On Sunday night, a body turns up in the mountains with a bullet in the back. Whodunit?

Johnson, who lives in Wyoming, described his hero in a press interview some years ago this way: "I assembled him, to a certain extent, from a lot of my experiences . . . in law enforcement. I basically tried to engender a sheriff that embodied all the best qualities of police work that I could think of: compassion, intelligence, dogged determination, and strong sense of right and wrong."

MY SAY "Longmire" arrives as silently as a dust devil kicked up by a high wind on the Wyoming plains. With little in the way of fanfare and a lead actor unacquainted with household name status, it must instead rely on a quiet fortitude, much like its namesake. That, in fact, is the secret of this newcomer's appeal. Lean, laconic and psychically wounded, Longmire actually sheds a hot tear when he has to notify next-of-kin about a death; that's almost certainly something you never saw Gary Cooper do. He's also wry, intelligent and distant.

Taylor's Longmire is a bigger mystery than the mysteries he has to solve. Like Tony Hillerman's Jim Chee/Joe Leaphorn series, the West takes a starring role here (the pilot was filmed in New Mexico where Hillerman's series is set). Indians -- not referred to here as "Native Americans" -- do as well. A genuine love of the land and those who call it home is reflected.

BOTTOM LINE Unassuming "Longmire" doesn't shout "LOVE ME!" but instead works its charms subtly, quietly. There's promise here.

GRADE B

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