Revenge of ‘Longmire’: Season 4 debuts this week on Netflix

Will Walt get his final revenge? Will Henry get his bar back? Is Vic's marriage finally kaput? Will Branch finally travel that long, lonesome road? Find out on September 10.

"Longmire" returns for eagerly awaited Season 4 on Netflix. (Image taken from S4:E1 Sneak Preview video)

WASHINGTON, Sept. 6, 2015 – The vigorous efforts of actors, producers, staffers, fans and of course the crusading Longmire Posse all come to fruition this week, as Netflix is set to release season 4 of the popular contemporary Western mystery-adventure series “Longmire” on Thursday.

Read Also: ‘Longmire’ returns: Netflix rides in to save the day

Like most Netflix efforts, the entire season will be instantly available and ready for serious binge-viewing this coming weekend for Netflix subscribers in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Here’s the new season’s official trailer:

As series fans will readily recall, through season 3, which concluded its run last summer, “Longmire” was by far the most popular drama series running on the otherwise relatively lackluster A&E network at the time. But in a surprise last-minute decision, A&E chose not to renew the series, causing the show’s loyal fans to rise in protest.

A&E’s abrupt, stunning decision threatened to leave “Longmire” fans hanging—perhaps forever—with the likelihood that season 3’s wild, cliffhanger ending might never be resolved.

According to several sources, Netflix’ new season 4 launches just moments after the season 3 finale, as rural Wyoming Sheriff Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) − having rescued his friend Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips) from a life sentence in prison and having discovered who was really behind the murder of his wife − sets out to exact his revenge.

Here’s a brief preview of season 4, episode 1:

The primary reasons behind A&E’s surprise cancellation of “Longmire” were likely two-fold. The network preferred to emphasize the fact that it could not maximize its already meager revenue with an expensive original series produced by an outside company—in this case, Warner Horizon Television.

This relatively plausible excuse mirrored those of other networks that have found original series created and produced in-house tend to be far more lucrative than contracted or purchased series, since the profits don’t have to be divided.

But the cancellation of “Longmire” also involved a related decision by A&E to pursue more in-house “unscripted” programming (read “reality shows”) that are far less expensive to produce than scripted dramas—a decision that ignored the obvious fact that the proliferation of “reality” programming on cable TV is diluting successive audiences for each new reality show that clogs the airways.

The second main reason A&E jettisoned its popular series is one most network and cable PR flaks aren’t eager to discuss: demographics. Advertisers covet the so-called younger, particularly male demographic, ranging roughly from the ages of 18 to 45. The advertising community apparently feels that pitching their clients’  products to this more “aspirational” audience is more effective than courting the over-the-hill gang. Persuading the younger demographic, not yet firmly established in purchasing patterns and brand loyalties, will result in higher sales of client products and a better return for their advertising dollars.

One problem: this rather old-fashioned line of reasoning ignores the current, sad fact that, with the U.S. still mired in the deep shadows of the Great Recession and its lingering after-effects, the younger demographic no longer has the purchasing power it did even 10 years ago. Perhaps surprisingly for Madison Avenue, it’s today’s over-45 demographic that generally possesses the greater discretionary income. And it’s that demographic that tuned into “Longmire,” drawn by its generally older cast and more mature and complicated story lines.

Whatever the demographic, however, “Longmire” fans will be streaming the show’s new season en masse on Thursday and over the days and weeks that follow, eager to discover what happens next after last season’s intense cliffhanger, which seemed to imply the loss of at least one major series character.

“Longmire’s” return marks a fairly rare victory for loyal TV series fans, particularly in the sorely neglected over-45 demographic. Obviously, these folks aren’t dead yet. The “Longmire” phenomenon also serves to underscore the continuing creative destruction that’s turning the film entertainment industry on its head as streaming services from Netflix, Amazon, other cable channels and perhaps even Apple steadily undermine the old order of things in film and TV land.

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Terry Ponick
Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17