Addicted to Deadwood

Years ago, I watched an episode of the HBO series Deadwood on a motel television and wondered “what the hell is this?”. A Western overflowing with mud and filth, brutality and extraordinary profanity.

Now, having watched two of its three seasons on DVD, I know what Deadwood is. It’s one of the best television series ever made. Personally speaking (of course), I think it’s better than The SopranosThe Wire and Breaking Bad. I’d rank it right up there with I, Claudius.

The series is beautifully made, the acting is superb, the characters are fascinating and the writing is out of this world. It’s shocking and funny and beautiful. I can’t believe that the residents of an American mining town in 1876 truly spoke as directly and as eloquently as these characters do, but that doesn’t detract from the pleasure of listening to them speak. If you enjoy the spoken word in all its variety, both coarse and elegant, consider becoming addicted to Deadwood, if you haven’t already.

A few selections: 

Calamity Jane comes looking for Wild Bill Hickock but doesn’t stay long:

Saloon owner and force of nature Al Swearingen discusses a troubling event with Mr. Wu, a local service provider:

Seth Bullock, unofficial sheriff, delivers a very strong message to an unscrupulous visitor: 

E. B. Farnum, sleazy but well-spoken owner of the town’s hotel, bemoans his fate:

Later, the cultured Alma Garret toys with E.B.:

And finally, Doc Cochran and Jewel are both as nimble as forest creatures:

4 thoughts on “Addicted to Deadwood

  1. I freaking love that show! Man oh man! I will warn you… no I won’t. I’ll just be here for you when it ends. Most lethal drinking game ever, (perhaps followed by whatever Dylan Thomas was drinking that night) shot every time you hear the f word.

    • Unfortunately, in searching for videos I came across a couple 3rd season surprises. Maybe I can forget them before watching season 3! (But I doubt it.) So thanks for keeping your secrets for now.

      It was also sad to find out that the show was canceled after three seasons even though the producers wanted to make at least one more. There’s a video with David Milch on YouTube where he apparently talks about what he wanted to do in season 4, but I of course didn’t watch it (yet).

  2. I loved that show, and was disappointed when it was cancelled.

    An interesting thing about the profanity in the dialog on the show. It’s not the profanity used during the period, but modernized to give the same shock value people of those times would have felt. Apparently the actual language of the time would be considered pretty mild by our standards, with most of the shock value during the period coming from its sacrilegious attributes, attributes few of us would bat an eye at today, such as “damn” or “hell”.

    • Thanks for that explanation. I’ve been wondering about the accuracy of the language, but only did a bit of reading on the subject. It looks like the accuracy of the language was debated when the program was first shown. But your explanation makes a lot of sense — the dramatist sacrifices the truth (they spoke those exact words) in order to convey another more significant truth (their language was shocking).

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