Deadwood was a TV Show produced by HBO which aired between 2004 and 2006, for 3 seasons, each with 12 episodes. In my opinion, some of the best 36 hours ever on TV.
It is a Western which tells the story of Deadwood, a town in Dakota and some of the people that lived there in 1870s. It is not a light show to watch as the thematics range from prostitution, race, hate, gambling, politics. It is a violent story of a nowhere land that struggles to go from a lawless camp to an organised town. One of the most distinticve aspects of the show is the dialogue: sometimes hard to follow (I had to watch most of the episodes with subtitles) and which contained a substantial amount of swearing words (estimates say that in the first hour alone , the word “fuck” was said 43 times!).
With all that, what it was that made this such an impressive show? First, I would say the fact that it was extremely well produced in all its aspects; Second, the fact that 99% of the events that take place and the characters were based on the real life Deadwood giving us a fascinating glimpse into what could have been the lives in the outskirts of civilisation. But mainly, because it showcases some of the best acting in the business that makes us root, respect and care for characters that you ordinarily woulnd’t, and this is no mean feat when it comes to a place such as Deadwood.
Plot wise it begins when a few new residents arrive in Deadwood :
from Western celebrities such as Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane
to Seth Bullock, the temperamental ex -sheriff who is looking to open a hardware shop with his partner Sol Star.
They soon are greeted by the local Doc, the prostitute Trixie, E.B. Farnum, who is the owner of the only hotel in town
and by the one and only Al Swearengen, proprietor of the Gem Saloon
A full fair-mindedness requires us also to report that within the Gem, on Deadwood’s main thoroughfare, comely whores, decently priced liquor, and the squarest games of chance in the hills remain unabatedly available at all hours, seven days a week.
Al is the de facto authoritative figure in Deadwood – nothing is done without his consent and he has no second thoughts before resorting to violence whenever necessary. And the new residents must either abide by his rules or face the consequences.
This man is a force to be reckoned with, a brute which turns out to be the very best thing in this show. Not only because of Ian McShane’s outstanding performance but also because Al is a paradox: a product of it’s time , gruesome, dirty, but also a very intelligent man who realises that if Deadwood wants to enter the USA map, it must start to conform to outside forces and this is how all characters strike a truce for the greater good.
To me, this show is the epitome of an all -encompassing work of art. I can not fault it in any aspect. And I was heartbroken when the show was cancelled.