ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Since its first season, “Longmire” has proven that it’s a ratings winner.
The pilot episode drew 4.1 million viewers, while the premiere of the second season drew in 4.3 million. The numbers were almost 3 million more than “Breaking Bad” drew its first two seasons.
Adam Bartley, who plays Deputy “The Ferg” Ferguson, can’t wait for the drama’s third season to premiere on Monday.
“The nerves are all gone, and we are a lot more confident,” he said. “The writing has gotten a lot better, and the entire cast has grown into a tighter-knit family.”
In fact, Bartley remembers after the pilot aired two years ago and the whole cast was at The Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas, N.M., when the numbers came in.
“We were all chanting ‘4.1,’” he said. “It was a great moment for us all.”
Though the series has its successes, A&E waited a bit last year to announce a third season of the series.
“They made us wait awhile, but we were sure we’d be back,” Bartley said. “I think the show is hitting its stride now, and there are a lot more storylines.”
“Longmire” is a crime drama series that is based on the Longmire mystery novels written by best-selling author Craig Johnson. It follows Walt Longmire, played by Robert Taylor, the sheriff of fictional Absaroka County, Wyo., as he returns to work following the death of his wife.
The series returns at 8 p.m. Monday on A&E. It is filmed at Garson Studios in Santa Fe, where it has been housed since its first episode.
It’s clear to Bartley that the series is growing in popularity, too.
“Me and the sheriff will go to the gym in Santa Fe, and people will recognize us,” he said. “That’s a really cool feeling, because we get the chance to meet and chat with the fans.”
Since the show is filmed in Santa Fe and near the Valles Caldera, Bartley said the entire cast makes themselves at home in the area.
“You wouldn’t be surprised to see us at Maria’s, Vinaigrette or La Posada,” he said. “I really enjoy Santa Fe and love that the community has embraced us being a part of them.”
Bartley said that, in the past two seasons, viewers have seen Deputy Ferguson grow into his character.
During the first season, Ferguson didn’t know if he had what it took to be a deputy.
“You saw him turn in his badge at one point,” he said. “But now, he’s confident and is looking for ways to help out Walt. He’s begging for more responsibility.”
During the second season, viewers also got to see Ferguson fall in love, only to be shut down by Longmire’s daughter.
“He showed a lot of vulnerability,” he said. “It was a chance for me to grow as an actor.”
Bartley, like others in the cast, will wait for the ratings to be released on Tuesday.
He said that, with the show now available on Netflix and DVD, it seems like its popularity is starting to boom.
“The way of watching TV has changed,” he said. “With Netflix, people don’t have cable and are binging on seasons at a time with shows. We’re finding more people finding the show later than others, but we’ll take any viewer we can.”