Sunday, September 25, 2016

Creating a (Not So) Perfect Western Hero by Connie Vines

How Exactly does a writer create a Western Hero?

I thought I'd look at Hollywood's current take on what it takes to be a Western Hero in today's Wild West!

Since I have just started streaming Season 5 of  Netfix's"Longmire" on my iPhone, I thought we could take a good long look at Walt.  (Now I watched the show when it was on t.v (A & E). However, missed Season 4,)

Walt Longmire 
Fictional Character/ as he appears in the Longmire (the mystery series in print).

Full name: Walter Longmire
Species: Human
Gende:r Male
Occupation: Sheriff
Title: Sheriff of Absaroka County, WY
Spouse(s) Martha Longmire (deceased)
Childre:n Cady Longmire (daughter, b. 4/1979)
Nationality: American
Police career: 
Department: Absaroka County Sheriff's Department
Years of service: 1972–Present
Rank: Sheriff


A native of Durant, Wyoming (the county seat of Absaroka County), Walt attended the University of Southern California, where he played offensive lineman for the USC Trojans and graduated in 1966 with a degree in English literature. He was then drafted by the Marine Corps and completed boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island and OCS at Marine Corps Base Quantico. He was assigned to the 1st Marine Division as a Military Police Officer, and served in country at Tan Son Nhut Air Base during the Vietnam War. He served in the Marines for four years, and earned, among other decorations, the Navy Cross, Silver Star, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart. After serving in Vietnam, Walt spent six weeks assigned as security at Johnston Atoll.

Upon his discharge from the Marines, Walt returned home to Wyoming where he was hired by Sheriff Lucian Connally as a deputy sheriff in 1972. Walt was elected as the Absaroka County Sheriff in November 1988 after Lucian all but threw the race and decided to retire.

Longmire as he appears in "Hollywood" screenplays:

Here is a Nextflix preview:


Absaroka County native Walt Longmire, born c. 1953, is the well-respected sheriff that resides there. When the series begins, it is believed by most that his wife, Martha Longmire, died of cancer.

His father was a rancher who managed the stables of Absaroka County's most wealthy family, the Van Blarcoms. He is a graduate of Durant High School Class of '81, and his football jersey still hangs in the school's trophy case.

In their 20s, he and Henry worked at Prudhoe Bay Oil Field in Alaska.

Walt has been the Sheriff of Absaroka County since at least 2005; his immediate predecessor is Sheriff Lucian Connally (Peter Weller), the uncle of Branch.

In 2010, Walt arrested Malachi Strand (Graham Greene), the Chief of the Cheyenne Reservation Tribal Police, for extortion; he also has an adversarial relationship with the current CRTP Chief, Mathias (Zahn McClarnon), although the two have a bond of mutual respect.

So what are the differences between the books and the TV series?

One of the key differences between the books and the TV series is the character's age and subsequent backstory. In the books, it is established that Walt is a college graduate and Vietnam War veteran, and has been the Absaroka County Sheriff since the early 1980s. However, no mention of college nor a military career has ever been specified or even alluded to on the show (although it hasn't been ruled out either), and Walt's age has been established multiple times, having graduated from high school in 1981 and having been friends with Henry since they were 12 years old, 38 years earlier.

In a significant departure from the books, Walt's wife Martha does not die from cancer. While she is still diagnosed with the disease, in the TV series she is murdered, the details of which are slowly revealed over several seasons, significantly affecting Walt's relation with his deputy Branch and the Connally family.

While the TV series portrays Vic as interested in Walt, her feelings aren't reciprocated like they are in the books. Instead, the TV series has Walt slowly recovering from losing his wife, unable or unwilling to maintain a relationship with a woman called Lizzie Ambrose, before finally showing enough interest in a member of the opposite sex to actively court Dr. Donna Sue Monaghan.

In the books, Absaroka County has seen five murders in 24 years. The TV series has seen 27 confirmed murders in the two first seasons alone.

In both the books and the TV series, Walt's friendship with Henry Standing Bear is significant but in the books Standing Bear is a person of physical strength, good judgement and moral character. In the TV show he is written to be  of great moral character but with more attitude than substance.

Personally, I find Longmire (Hollywood version) has become more of a believable hero from Season 1.  During the 1st Season he see to be a Western version of NCIS "Gibbs" complete with hating his cell phone and refusing to use it even in an emergency.  I've vacationed in Wyoming and an wonder where those cell towers are in 'Walt's World" especially during winter snow storms.

I would also like to see Henry Standing Bear be shown as a person rather than a "walk-on Native".

What do you think?  Does Longmire seem like the perfect Western Hero?

The Western hero is the possessor of physical strength, stamina, and an innate sense of the right thing to do; he rejects eloquence, refinement, and superior intelligence as standards of measure.

Yes. Walt fits the standard.  However, I'd wish that Hollywood would have let Longmire keeph is original backstory (change to Gulf War).  Having the retired high school football jersey bring to mind Al Bundy (Married with Children), not a Sheriff with a wealth of life experience and education to draw upon.

Still, the Wyoming country-side, and Robert Taylor are easy on the eyes.


Remember to stop at by and see what everyone else is talking about today!

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