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.