Friday, April 10, 2009

Review: Deadwood

A quick review.

The Other Half and I just finished watching Deadwood via netflix. This was a great series and we were both sad to see that it ended with out a proper conclusion.

Basics/Background: Deadwood tells the story of the founding and development of Deadwood, SD. Some of the characters utilized were real with fictional background while others were just fictional. The story centers on Al Swearengen (played very well by Ian McShane), a bar owner, pimp, and general bad guy, but with a streak of honor and a passion for his new town and his relationship to Seth Bullock (Tim Olyphant), straight as an arrow and first Sheriff of Deadwood.

Style: The writing for the show was incredible. At times the story felt as if it was Shakespeare with the complexity of the dialog between characters and even during soliloquies. Of note the use of cursing in the shows was often emphasized negatively, and I'll admit they drop a few dozen F-bombs a show, but I felt it wasn't as bad given the wild west feel. It is debatable if that language was used at the time, but it fit the writing and story as developed.

Plot: Over the three years of the series the plot twisted in several different directions as well as a dozen subplots running at the same time. The key theme that ran through all three seasons was Seth Bullock's love affair with Ms. Garret. Despite the relationship hitting its peak at the end of season one, the tie between them was always on the cusp of most misadventures in the town. The end of Season two say the arrival of Mr. George Hearst, played by Gearld McRaney, who will always be Rick Simon or Major Dad to me. Mr. Hearst's arrival and need to 'find the color' at any costs leads to a series of tense show downs that seemed to accumulate at the end of season three.

Character Development: Deadwood is all about the characters. From Swearenger's henchmen to Mr. Wu to the town itself, you see the characters grow and develop over the course of the seasons. If you are looking for a text book version of good characters and how to develop them, I think that Deadwood's cast and writers should be at the top of the list.

Geek Factor: Hmmm... This one is tough. I really liked the show, but it doesn't have any of the key items you would expect for a 'geek' show. No star ships, no lost Indian lore, no phantom of the opera... Just good old fashion westerns with solid characters and writing and foul language. Would many geeks enjoy this show? Yes, I think they would once they started watching, but alas, it isn't set on an asteroid base.

In the end I give it five out of five Dead Bill Hickoks. The only negative thing I can say is that I will never be able to hear the words "San Francisco" with out also hearing "Cock Sucker" thanks to Mr. Wu. Ruined... For Life...

San Francisco...

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