LONGMIRE “Pilot.” A&E, 03 Jun 2012. Robert Taylor (Sheriff Walt Longmire), Katee Sackhoff (Victoria ‘Vic’ Moretti), Lou Diamond Phillips (Henry Standing Bear), Bailey Chase, Cassidy Freeman, Adam Bartley, Louanne Stephens. Screenplay by   Hunt Baldwin and John Coveny,  based on the characters created by Craig Johnson. Nominated for an Edgar by the Mystery Writers of America. Director: Christopher Chulack. Currently streaming on Netflix (all six seasons).

   It’s taken me a while, but I’ve finally gotten around to this long running series, based on the even longer running series of books by Craig Johnson (seventeen so far, and counting). I’ve read only one of books, perhaps luckily so, as I had no preconceptions or hopes to be dashed, or vice versa.

   This, the pilot to the series, does a very good job of introducing the primary players and the ongoing plot line, both of this one and things to come. Walt Longmire is the long-time sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming. A large chunk of the country is a Cheyenne reservation, an area over which Longmire has no jurisdiction. Sometime in the recent past his wife has died, and since then his staff of three deputies has been covering for him while he recovers from the loss. One of them, though, a fellow named Branch Connally, thinks Walt is over the hill and is running in the next election against him.

   The characters are well drawn, no surprise there, since they are (more or less) based on the books. You will have to tell me more about the “more or less.”  As I said above, the story is little more than ordinary, mostly because it has to take second place to identifying the characters, who they are and so on. It involves a man shot to death in the snow, a stranger with no obvious reason for being there. In fact his wife, back in Colorado, thinks he is somewhere else altogether. Some conflict with the tribal police eventually ensues, foreshadowing, I suspect, similar situations in further story lines.

   I don’t know the actor who plays Longmire, Robert Taylor, but he plays the part he’s asked to play perfectly. He’s craggy, terse if not out-and-out taciturn, rough, crude, and, as when telling the man’s widow the bad news, also quite eloquent. The series depends on him, obviously so, and a six-year run suggests he repeats the crackerjack job he does in the pilot all the way through.