Just two days after we posted a review of the first Longmire novel (The Cold Dish) by Craig Johnson word came that A&E, the network broadcasting Longmire, had chosen not to renew the show, despite the fact it was the cable networks highest rated scripted show. Like a shot heard round the world, the announcement went out under the headline “Breaking News” from many who cover the entertainment industry, like the Hollywood Reporter, who came close to that level of emphasis, making it the lead story in their e-mail bulletin that day.
Why such surprise? Such emphasis? Admittedly the season three finale averaged an audience of 3.7 million, and many viewers had not found the show. Yet, the flip side of that coin is the fact local movie theaters had commercials for Longmire airing before major summer tent pole / blockbuster movies. That meant the network was promoting and supporting the show, right?
The sad reality is the audience numbers had slipped since Season 2, when in my humble opinion the show had a more interesting through-season arc. One of the greatest strengths of Longmire is the friendship between Henry Standing Bear and Walt Longmire, and during Season 3 they were forced to be apart for several episodes with rare contact. While that allowed for some interesting revelations, and some character development, it meant that a lot of the fun and sparkle that audiences looked forward to seeing on the screen each week was missing.
Perhaps even more important that a slight slip in the ratings however, is that the younger audience, the ever-talked about 18-49 demographic that advertisers are so convinced spend more money, dropped off by 45% during Season 3.
I can not help but wonder if the folks at FX who put Justified on the air have watched Longmire… this is their chance, with one more season of Justified coming to audiences in the not too distant future, what a double feature of entertainment that would be! An hour of Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) style justice as he goes after Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins) down in Kentucky, followed by an hour of Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) and Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips) doing what they do best in Absaroka County, Wyoming!
After one of those movie theater promotions I mentioned aired while I was at Guardians of the Galaxy with John Mayo of ComicBookPage he asked me after the movie, “anything like Justified?” and we had a good talk about the two shows, and just how much they had in common, and how different they are – the two would compliment one another nicely for an hour of Justice served up with a little old-fashioned attitude and style.
And for those who were paying attention to how Season 3 of Longmire ended, we were pretty well guaranteed to get some more guest appearances from Gerald McRaney who was knocking our socks off as Barlow Connally, father of Deputy Branch Connally (Bailey Chase).
All of the articles I have seen confirm what I first heard, the folks making Longmire are shopping it around, with hopes a fourth season will indeed be made and air, so maybe my dream of some fantastic justice nights on FX is not as crazy as you think.
A few links that might be of interest: