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Reviews & Ratings for
"Deadwood" More at IMDbPro »

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287 out of 331 people found the following review useful:

They finally got the western right!

10/10
Author: killgore86 from Brea, California
23 September 2004

Don't get me wrong, there have been great westerns to come before Deadwood, but none of them really got it right. There is just a reality that some people aren't willing to deal that after 50 years of our history being whitewashed through film and TV, we're finally starting to see the truth. David Milch has done his research and discovered the wonderfully bizarre contradiction of languages used in the old west. Watching the cast of Deadwood converse with a combination of old world English laced with profanity straight from the gutter is incredible and feels right for the first time. Where do people think our language came from? People always want to think that they were the first to do something, when things like profanity, substance abuse and prostitution have been around since before man walked erect.

Along with the incredible dialog and storytelling, David Milch has introduced possibly the greatest character to ever come to TV or film...Al Swearengen. Ian McShane plays Al with the same intense conviction and truth that the character himself lives by. In Al's world things are black and white and never apologizes for a second for living his life by a strict code of morals of his own making. I don't think we've ever seen a character go from crying after a mercy killing to watching a murder he orchestrated stone faced.

This is indeed a special show that is continuing to pave the way for the facts of our history to finally be told with truth...Instead of the whitewashing we've seen our whole lives to make us feel better about ourselves.

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183 out of 229 people found the following review useful:

Very Good

Author: (lakotawolf71) from United States
14 December 2004

I felt I needed to write after reading the comment made of the show. Everyone is entitled to an opinion but the individual the wrote the comment "Falls Short" does not know anything. I live in Deadwood and with the exception of stuff added by Hollywood to quicken the story it is quite close to our history. None of the characters are fictional, the all lived at one time. I admit the show in vulgar but cleans up as the show continues and the town grows from a miner's camp to a town. Don't let the first few episodes scare you off. The show is very good and quite close to the truth. If you like old west history you will love Deadwood.

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165 out of 197 people found the following review useful:

Very simply magnificent

Author: AnneOBrienRice from California
15 June 2004

Ian McShane as the evil Al has established himself as one of the greatest actors of the moment and of the time. He's up there with Pacino, DeNiro and Keitel. The magnificent writing and directing of Deadwood support him completely in mesmerizing the audience. This is for my money the finest work being done on television today. The show has a sure moral compass and a daring to take the violence to the level of Shakespeare or the Greek Tragedy while maintaining verisimilitude with brilliant dialogue and perfect art and set direction, as well as a flawless supporting cast each of whom engages us immediately and convincingly no matter how intimate or distant the focus might be. I can't get enough of this show. I want to see it all in reruns, to cherish it later on DVD. Each episode is fresh and surprising and at times astonishing. But Ian McShane steals the show, no question of it. His face is profoundly expressive and his lines are so marvelous that some of them surely must be ad lib. The guy's a scoundrel but my heart's breaking for him. The Season Finale was the single greatest television drama I've ever seen. We have here a villain who isn't morally bankrupt. And thank heaven, we have a show runner and a writer who isn't morally bankrupt either. Bravo!! I've run out of superlatives. Please, more. And more. And more.

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153 out of 198 people found the following review useful:

Rough, gritty, realistic portrayal of Western history

Author: smokehill retrievers from Chancellorsville VA
28 March 2004

Judging by other comments, the realistic portrayal of the crude language and immorality may be a bit too much for those used to tame, glossy horse operas where the Good are very, very good and the Bad are very, very bad.

As for the language being "over the top," anyone who's spent time in an Army unit or aboard ship in wartime knows this is EXACTLY the kind of language young men under stress use, and probably even worse back in the late eighteenth century when most of them were uneducated, illiterate and had a projected life span of around 30. If they were lucky.

Most people familiar with authentic Western history will recognize this as a very accurate portrayal of Deadwood, or any other frontier boom town, with all its ugliness and warts. Like it or not, it's history. I think they did a superlative job so far (first two episodes).It also looks like it's going to be the most accurate version of Bill Hickock's death -- which was far more than just the simple barroom murder usually portrayed -- ever put on film.

The number of truly spectacular actors here is simply staggering. Ian McShane's riveting performance is no surprise for "Lovejoy" fans; he was long overdue for something equal to his talent. Who else stands out? Damn near everyone. Calamity Jane, Tolliver, Farnum, the Doc ... there aren't enough "supporting actor" awards from any source that could do justice to such a large, stand-out cast. For those of us who despair of the putrid crap in the theaters, peopled by actors who should be doing dinner theater in Dubuque, well... now we have hope. And DEADWOOD truly puts the lie to the propaganda about public broadcasting being necessary to provide "quality programming that commercial television just can't or won't do." In the entire history of public radio and TV they have NEVER reached this level of excellence even once -- yet cable (once referred to disparagingly as 'pay TV') pulls it off on a shoestring budget. Score one for capitalism.

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109 out of 137 people found the following review useful:

One of the best TV dramas I've ever seen

Author: (michaeljbassett@gmail.com) from UK
2 November 2004

This is a stunning achievement. Performance, writing, direction, casting, design, everything about it is of the highest quality. It seems so obvious and in your face at first with little in the way of compelling traditional story (ie each episode has a 'plot') but every layer has another layer beneath and they all build into an amazing portrait of this moment in time. (real or fictional it makes no difference to me) For all the apparent lawlessness and depravity on display it is about love and responsibility being forged against the most brutal of times. Ian McShane is a stunning revelation and Timothy Olyphant is superb as the calm fury at the centre of the storm. Cannot praise it highly enough. Better than Sopranos - and that's saying something.

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93 out of 135 people found the following review useful:

Polished yet in the rough

Author: cablemonkey from Virginia, USA
23 July 2004

Though i never considered myself a western fan, i realize i've seen a good many, from the Anthony Mann masterpieces, to Leone's revolutionary films, to more recent flicks like Unforgiven. But none has moved me like Deadwood. While the series did have some ups and downs (like life itself), it is truly enchanting. The season finale alone is one of the most moving things i've seen on TV, and having rewatched it many times (the joy of tivo) i still find myself driven to tears. The dialog is fantastic, bordering on Shakespearean at times as others have pointed out. Its a shame that so many seem to be bothered by the language, perhaps i am just overly jaded. Remember though that profanity at that time was predominantly based on religion (or rather defiance of such). These days of course, hellfire and tarnation don't have quite the same effect. If the dialog were more "period", i imagine it would be like watching yosemite sam cast as swearengen (heaven forbid). In their translations of Kurasawa movies, Critereon has faced the same issues, and i agree with their and David Milch's choice. Stay true to the meaning and feeling, more than the literal. Especially with profanity, this is key. Profanity's entire purpose is to offend, and if it becomes through age or paradigm shift inoffensive, it loses all meaning and effectiveness. It helps bring us into the world of deadwood, and better understand and relate to the characters who live there. Which, IMHO, is a wondrous thing to experience.

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48 out of 58 people found the following review useful:

There's something powerful and moving about 'Deadwood'…

8/10
Author: Righty-Sock (robertfrangie@hotmail.com) from Mexico
4 August 2007

After executing his last legally ordained job as a Montana marshal, Seth Bullock moves to a gold-mining camp known as Deadwood, where he and his partner Sol Star strike a deal with Al Swearengen, on a lot for their hardware store…

While suspicions arise that 'road agents' may have been the true perpetrators of the killing of an entire family on the Spearfish road, competition arrives for Swearengen in the form of the Bella Union, a new joint from Chicago operated by Cy Tolliver…

Deadwood—a town without any laws or courts—is the center of a gold rush and is presided over by Al Swearengen, a saloon owner, and a brothel operator… His showing makes two different things between the coward and the lapse of momentary fear… Let him doubt those he's trusted, this camp will run red with blood…

The show centers on Seth Bullock, a young man with a powerful temper who got a lot of Hickok's qualities… But being a man with an active conscience Bullock declines to accept the horrors around him…

We are rapidly introduced to most of the other important characters:

Wild Bill Hickok—an asset to any saloon, and any joint he frequents—comes to look for business opportunity and sits there, losing at poker… He is the fastest gun around… While his respect for Bullock grows, he commissions 'Montana' to do a review of the Garret claim...

Cochran—the town doctor who takes heat from Al Swearengen every time one of the whores is poorly sick—was full of opinion and took the most comprehensive view when he treated the bright widow… Now he doesn't feel at such perfect liberty to opine on her husband's case as he did on hers…

E.B. Farnum—Judas Goat looking fellow, coyote-moving type—is Swearengen's water boy, the innkeeper of a thousand faces staring straight at extinction…

Brom Garret—the naïve city investor who had to go all his $20,000 to turn Farnum away and purchase a gold claim—pursues his remedies in some other fashion…

Sophia—the little survivor—could settle who killed her people, road agents or Sioux…

Jewel—born with difficulties and hardships that got no cure—wants the doctor to brace her leg so her dragging it doesn't drive Swearengen crazy…

Charlie Utter—who considers himself an important hand at the freight business— plays a man too loyal and honest for his own good…

Whitney Ellsworth—who saw something he shouldn't have, a man pushed off from a ridge—seemed very competent and trustworthy…

Mr. Wu—the only source of opium in the camp—finds a common language with Searengen when an opium theft occurs…

Smith—the Reverend who has a distinct, clear set of morals—knows from past experience that it's a solace having friends…

Ian McShane is a joy to watch… He gives a first-class performance as Al Swearengen, the oppressive boss who can order the execution of any man in the settlement with just a word… McShane who runs his Gem with the help of his cronies, emits power in every order he gives…

While McShane is a marvelous villain who generates a palpable menace, Boothe is maniacally evil as Cy exuding despicable charm … Well dressed Cy is the gentleman on the outside while more cruel as Swearengen in beating, kicking, and killing…

Such a performer was found with Timothy Olyphant, very effective as a formal marshal who understands the danger of his own temperament… Seth Bullock stood before Alma Garret as a married man to his brother's widow after he was killed… He took their five-year-old boy as his own son…

The 4 show women that are trapped in a man's world are: Molly Parker as Mrs. Garret, the beautiful addict wife who suspects foul play… She inevitably feels she's had some part in what befalls her husband; Kim Dickens as Joanie Stubbs, the very attractive solitary woman who uses to make Cy warm; Paula Malcomson as Trixie, the prostitute who must've done some fancy to keep Al from Killing her… She tries to help Alma with the orphaned child while keeping her master in the dark; Robin Weigert as Calamity Jane, the sewer mouth that follows Hickok around… When she confronts the greasy-haired dangerous man who pulls all the strings, she fell apart, broken and weak…

There's something powerful and moving about 'Deadwood'… It's truly a drama of memorable characters, dark and ultra-violent… If you love Westerns, don't miss it!

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67 out of 98 people found the following review useful:

Stake your claim in the lawless West

Author: UnCritic from United States
9 April 2004

I love this show. This is a worthy successor to the Sopranos. Brilliant acting, brilliant writing, brilliant direction. It's been a long time since someone came along and breathed new life into the Western genre. This is probably the best ensemble cast ever assembled for a TV show. The show's creators surpass Peckinpah in presenting the cruel, gritty, violent life in parts of the Old West, when people sought to make a life for themselves in a lawless environment, after the Indians were wiped out but before there was government. People have different motives and intentions for living in such a place, and those elements mix into a pungent brew in a place called Deadwood.

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68 out of 101 people found the following review useful:

great acting and great writing, despite the constant swearing

Author: Aroo52 from Phoenix, AZ
12 December 2004

This show is wonderful, great characters and perfect actors chosen to portray them. But what seems most amazing is how the show transcends the simple western genre and creates a complete world full of rich characters.

The best examples of this are McShane's Swearengen and Olyphant's Bullock, the "villian" and "reluctant lawman" respectively. Swearengen is a stomping, violent, angry, ruthless, brilliant, petty and hilarious whore-master. Bullock is conflicted, passionate, belligerent, but ultimately the most justice minded person in the town. Both men could have easily fallen into the classic trap of genre entertainment, but they in fact rise above it and create complete people.

I recommend this show to everyone, but be warned, the swearing in constant. And i mean constant.

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46 out of 77 people found the following review useful:

Great series with two acting revelations (not who you think)

Author: William (wmattifo) from Lubbock, TX
11 April 2004

Boy I sure enjoy this series. Sure there's a lot of swearing, and some of the nudity is from folks that shouldn't be filmed naked (yechh) but this is a great series. The directing is superb, and (so far) the writing develops the characters and allows the actors to do what they do best. This series has an impressive group of actors. Keith Carradine will probably win an Emmy for his "Wild Bill", and the bad guy (Ian McShane) is one REALLY bad guy.

The two revelations are Tim Olyphant as Seth Bullock AND William Sanderson as the crooked inn keeper. Olyphant has been the kind of quality actor who has just been waiting for a real breakout movie or series and this will be it for him. The Emmies will be calling him. Sanderson, on the other hand, has probably been typecast since his days as Larry with his two brothers named Darryl. This is a long way from the "Newhart" set and Sanderson is outstanding in this series. We'll see how this series goes and if it can keep up the outstanding directing, writing, and acting, we will surely see this series honored as it richly deserves.

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