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Review of Deadwood

Posted by phduffy on 2005-12-03 17:07:03
Allright, I said I'd review it, so here I am!

Much like The Wire, Deadwood is also a kickass HBO show that's only available in Canada if you have the movie network. (And James, I remembered why no Canadian network picked up The Wire: No one watches it, it's a very low rated show on HBO).

Anyways, unlike The Wire, Deadwood does not take place in modern day America, but rather South Dakota circa the 1870s (okay, that was a weak transition).

Anyways, the show revolves around the town of Deadwood, currently a town in South Dakota, but at the time of the show, a part of the Dakota territory and not part of the U.S.

The show revolves around the people of Deadwood trying to make their life, and in particular the goings on of Al Swearengen, the owner of the Gem saloon/whorehouse. He's more or less up to no good, yet he's very good at being up to no good, and at being controlling.

I suspect if you asked many followers of the show, they'd say that Seth Bullock, a character from Etobicoke Ontario, is the main character. He's moved out to Deadwood to start a hardware store, although he seems destined to become the marshall, as he's got an eye for justice and a fierce temper. However, I think that Swearengen is the main character, as he's the focus of the show. Without him, Bullock just owns a hardware store, the competing saloon is a slightly corrupt dirty saloon, etc. HOwever, with Swearengen we have plots and machinations, and abuse and all that stuff that makes for a good show.

In addition to being cool characters, Bullock and Swearengen were also real people, and so other famous people show up, like Wild Bill Hickcock and Calamity Jane (who did visit Deadwood, as a very important event for Hickcock happened there). Now, if you look up some of these people, you can spoil the story, but on the other hand, I think that having to conform to what actually happened helps the show. There are events that Deadwood can't alter to make them more enjoyable for the audience, they pretty much just have to show what happened, which adds to the unpredictability.

Also unlike the Wire, there isn't one overidding story to Deadwood for season 1. There's events with gold prospecting and Molly Parker's character and her big city husband, an awesome cameo by the girl who plays Veronica Mars, subplots with the preacher and the other saloon...

And of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the language in Deadwood. In the 12 episodes of Deadwood, the word CockSucker is used roughly the same amount as in the 12 years prior. There's also an episode with Bill Hickcock in which cunt is featured as sort of a regular friend. It's interesting that the Midwest and West, states like the Dakotas and Montana and Colorado, started out as places where opium and whorehouses and murdering were regular appearances, where cocksucer and cunt were as much a part of the language as apple pie, and where men were not defined by their loyalty to their country, but more so by their loyalty to themselves and those around them, have become red states.

Anyways, recommended, if you're not the type to be offended by language. Season 2 is taking its sweet time to come out on DVD, and season 3 starts on HBO in March.