Deadwood: Season 1, Episode 12

Sold Under Sin (13 Jun. 2004)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | History
8.9
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Ratings: 8.9/10 from 527 users  
Reviews: 4 user | 2 critic

General Crook rolls into Deadwood with his troops, known as "Custer's avengers," and the Yankton magistrate, Clagett, prompting a parade and business solicitations from E.B. Farnum and Cy ... See full summary »

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Title: Sold Under Sin (13 Jun 2004)

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Whitney Ellsworth (credit only)
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Calamity Jane (credit only)
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Reverend H.W. Smith (as Raymond McKinnon)
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Storyline

General Crook rolls into Deadwood with his troops, known as "Custer's avengers," and the Yankton magistrate, Clagett, prompting a parade and business solicitations from E.B. Farnum and Cy Tolliver. Al Swearengen delivers a tortured soul from suffering, and Bullock reacts decisively to Russell's intentions regarding Alma. Stapleton's new commission as sheriff proves short-lived, and Bullock and Alma have a late-night meeting. Written by WyattJones

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19th century


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TV-MA

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13 June 2004 (USA)  »

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1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

When Merrick removes the lens cap while taking a photo of the cavalry officers; he loses his grip of the lens cap and it remains in front of the lens. Since photographs taken in this way required a long exposure a mistake like this would have resulted in ruined picture. The picture that Merrick later laments about and hopes to re-shoot shows no evidence of the lens cap that was in the way earlier. See more »

Quotes

Sol Star: I'm sensing you've done things today you wish you could amend, Seth.
Seth Bullock: What kind of man have I become, Sol?
Sol Star: I don't know. The day ain't fucking over.
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Theme From Deadwood
(uncredited)
Written by David Schwartz
Performed by James Parks
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User Reviews

Season 1: A consistent, engaging, rewarding and enjoyable drama series built of great writing (characters and their dialogue)
3 December 2010 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Deadwood sat on my shelf for ages. Years ago I had seen that Sky had bought the UK rights to it but at the time it just seemed that all anyone had to say about it was the fact that it contained Lovejoy using strong language – which may well be a thing of note for UK viewers but really did the show no favours in terms of promoting it for the quality show that it is. I "knew" it was supposed to be good but over time this meant the show took on a "worthy but hard work" air in my head where I thought it would be a show I appreciate rather than actually enjoy – even though my experience with HBO dramas (In Treatment, Wire, Sopranos, Six Feet Under) has been that I enjoy and appreciate them.

Deadwood took almost no time to show me that it has a lot going on but it is engaging and enjoyable as a drama. The plot revolves around the town of Deadwood, early in its establishment off the back of the prospecting in the area. Without ties to any territory or law the town offers much for those setting up businesses but is a wild and lawless place where the weak can easily be consumed. In this town the power appears to be held by saloon owner Swearengen, his establishment being at the centre of the town and his ears/eyes being everywhere. New arrivals threaten his small-town power base while also giving him opportunities to cement it. I know there is a lot of historical fact surrounding the town and the characters but also that there is a lot of fiction in here – I tried not to concern myself with this and treated it like a drama series, not a record of history.

The first season centres around Swearengen and the various power struggles and challenges but it is still very much an ensemble piece – albeit that Swearengen's position in the town meaning he does tend to come over as the "main" character. There is a lot going on because of the volume of characters and the complexity of the interactions. If you pay attention (and I don't mean "concentrate" I just mean actually just watch the show without doing other things) then you will be able to follow it easily enough. It doesn't spoon-feed though, there are interactions between characters that don't always make sense to the viewer, simply because we don't know their history or haven't seen sufficient interactions to make our own assessments. I liked this though – liked that the main threads were as important as the detail of the relationships in the town and that they all bleed into one another. A good example of this was my worries over the event of the plague coming to the town – I had assumed that this plot thread would overwhelm all others but it didn't, instead in was layered perfectly with everything else and became yet another reinforcement of the relationships and conflicts. It does essentially all come down to the characters and, as they are well written and strong in the delivery the show does engage effortlessly.

This perhaps took me a second though, because the characters put me off due to the extreme and frequent language, which at first seemed to be there for the sake of it. Quickly though I settled into the rhythm of the dialogue and the swearing not only works but makes perfect sense. The decision to use very modern swear words was also a good call as the words have impact where the "goddarnit" type swearing may have detracted from the drama. The cast take to the characters and dialogue very well. It is hard to avoid this becoming a list of names because everyone is very good. Mcshane leads the cast and is great but he couldn't do it alone and he has so many actors delivering great performances from Olyphant in a co-lead down to roles such as Weigert as the foul-mouthed but warm-hearted mess of "Calamity" Jane. Much like The Wire – it is really hard to start handing out praise because everyone deserves it here.

It took me ages to start watching Deadwood but the gap between season 1 and 2 will be much shorter on the basis of this. Season 1 produced consistently engaging threads which utilise the characters and relationships in convincing and evolving ways. It was engaging in the main threads but has plenty supporting it that is just as good whether it adds detail to the main threads or is just funny or tragic. Deadwood season 1 is a great 12 hours of television drama that is as entertaining as it is rewarding – I greatly look forward to the second season.


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