Friday, November 23, 2007


I have, through the tender auspices of the good folks at Netflix, made my way through the third (and, alas, final) season of Deadwood. I went through the episodes slowly because I knew that they were the final episodes of this compelling series (HBO in its dubious wisdom decided not to continue the show) and I was loathe to rush through them (though the impulse to do so was always there, of course.)

Deadwood is (was) not for everyone…it is (was) gritty, bawdy, messy, absurd, engaging, and, most all, profane…but I relished all three seasons with all of its compelling drama, serpentine plotting, and wonderfully flawed and complex characters.

The language of the show was poetic and profane…most often both at the same time…and the locale was lived-in, rough hewn, muddy, messy, and ramshackle. I have no idea if any of this was true of Deadwood, South Dakota in the late 1800’s but it has a fierce verisimilitude that I quite readily accepted (even while accepting, however reluctantly, that people probably didn’t speak in the colorful profane poetic way the characters sometime did in the series.)

At the heart of the series was Ian McShane’s wondrous performance of the brutal, acerbic, savvy and, yes, profligately profane Al Swearengen, Deadwood’s manipulative power-broker (as well as a saloon owner and whoremaster). The third season was underscored by the conflict between Swearengen and the even more brutal George Hearst (Gerald McRaney is in very fine form as the complex, driven Hearst) and it is a violent, strategic, uncompromising chess match that is never anything less than wholly, awfully engaging.

There is not much resolved by the time the series ends and we are promised a movie or two to bring to some better resolution the plotlines that would have come together in the planned fourth season…I hope that the promise comes true but even if it doesn’t Deadwood is (was) still well worth the investment of time and (rapt) attention.


James Tubman said...

never seen it

want to see it now though because your engaging review

boy i know they were rough in that series because the old west was no joke

it's amazing because at this time in history you had all of these white historians writing about the inferiority of blacks

but if you read about how white men shot each other in the streets and raided women,children and so forth it makes you wonder

peace out man

Shesawriter said...

I haven't seen this one either, however, I've been meaning to put it on my Netflix Queue. My husband and I were looking for another great series to watch on DVD. We just finished up with Oz. Believe it or not, we never watched it while it was on cable. Now you've got me really curious about Deadwood. Thanks for sharing!