12 August 2012 6:15 PM, PDT | Vulture | See recent Vulture news »

Much of modern TV is said to take place in a post-Sopranos universe, but this summer David Milch’s gold-rush western Deadwood seems just as influential. The show’s cancellation in 2006 left a hole in fans’ hearts, and a glance at some of the most prominent current dramas suggests that TV’s showrunners miss it, too. Why wouldn’t they? The HBO western built a hermetically sealed world that felt like Sam Peckinpah’s Our Town. Dickensian thugs, hustlers, dreamers, and reprobates swarmed a mining camp’s muddy thoroughfares in search of sex, inebriates, profit, and vengeance, while Ian McShane’s saloon keeper Al Swearengen proffered foulmouthed color commentary. The show was dark and violent, but with a core of tenderness and optimism. It was singular and stirring. No wonder we keep prospecting in cable’s shallows, panning for Milchian gold.Amid the silt and pyrite, you’ll find FX »

- Matt Zoller Seitz

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