|Index||5 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This season finale blew me away. - Spoilers ahead - Deadwood's main
charm was its character-driven portrayal of the 'wild west' in 1876. It
was never heavy on plot within the rigid confines of the "commercial
episode structure". Just like the Sopranos, it took its time in each
episode to travel through the camp and explore its characters rather
than come up with a 'story' in each episode. that's one of the joys of
HBO if you ask me...
Anyway, this finale revved up the quality in all spheres. There is a moment of brilliance here when Bullock's temper rears its ugly head but is later reflected upon and corrected (thanks to a friend's sound advice). This man is destined to be the sheriff. He gets "bloody thoughts" just like the rest of us but is determined and righteous enough to stop right before these drive him too far (they don't stop him from exploring certain 'other' thoughts however). The badge he ends up wearing at the end is only a confirmation of what everyone had already known all along.
All this is what separates him from men like Al who is, on the other hand,a calculating murderer but what makes him such a joy to watch is the fact that he doesn't seem to take pleasure in the killings. He is often conflicted about his actions. Everything he does - he does with the camp's best intentions in mind and as strange as it may seem to some - some killings even seem to 'make sense' in this world of his. One of the killings in this episode is so well portrayed, that I was genuinely moved and got goose bumps for the first time in months. This is because the killing (of the reverend) is dealt with intelligently. Everyone knows he is going to die eventually but morality dictates this should be left to nature. The doc questions the divinities and why they seem to let this poor man's suffering go on and on...Most on the camp have thought about what needs to be done...but no one seems to be so cold blooded that they would kill a man of the cloth who has done them no wrong - even if it would be a 'mercy killing'.
So the audience guiltily looks to Al to perform the deed. The surprise here is that Al is visibly shaken by what he is about to do and is even in tears outside the room wherein he finally commits the murder. He allows himself a moment of grief before composing himself and putting on a straight face again. Kudos to the writers for handling such a difficult scene with such humanity. It also elevated Al's character considerably. Let us not forget Al is much more than the main source of humour present in the show (which is often hilarious by the way). He is a complex character and one of television's finest.
The finale also plays out the tension between Trixie and Al, ending on just the right note. She is caught in the moment - staring at the doc dancing with 'the gimp' who can now walk better thanks to the doc's help (another brilliant and very touching sub-plot). She stares up at Al still smiling...but Al is hurt. She betrayed him. He looks at her but doesn't smile. She stops smiling and looks away - fully understanding what lies in the air between them. From above, Al looks ahead at his saloon and the scene ends with that bitter-sweet taste you usually get after watching an excellent movie.
The mood is just right and the tension is often palpable. The whole episode is just brilliant. Sometimes, you have to remind yourself that you are watching a television show....
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.
... and Saul replies, "I don't know. The day ain't $#%^$# over..." Film
historians of the future will not only sing the praises of Tim
Olyphant's work in film and TV, but, I assure you, they will not fail
to mention how audiences of the era (that would be ... us) failed to
fully appreciate him.
The same cannot be said of David Milch who produced and wrote this excellent series. I am in awe of the way Milch introduced Olyphant off the top of the series and then kept him in reserve until the 12th episode -- the same way you keep your rook back in a chess game -- until here, in this instalment, he is literally unleashed.
Let me be clear. The writing is excellent. The acting is excellent. The direction and staging excellent. But even against such strong odds, Olyphant at the top of his craft can steal the entire episode to the point that it just seems to be all about him.
And you know what? It is.
The first season of Deadwood is really good, sometimes great Television. I wouldn't say that I'm quite as enamored with it as most fans of the show are, and as those who always praise it. Still, fascinating characters and the show isn't built around as much plot as I thought it would. I assumed it would be something like Breaking Bad, but alas, it is not (not that it's a bad thing). The performances are great, and for once, some great female characterization. McShane stands as the show's MVP as of now but he doesn't hold that title without competition. A lot of the supporting characters lend a great hand in this, and as predicted, it's a joy to watch.
As a follower of American shows for a long time I am pleasantly surprised that a show of a caliber this real would have a following. I feel that in many ways this show (as Americans call it) display a realistic version of a part of history that has previously been narrated in an fairytale-fashion. I think that there are a lot of people that look forward to series with characters as interesting as Al Swearengen and characters portrayed by super actors like Powers Boothe and Peter Coyote (my personal all-time favorite). I hope Deadwood will spearhead a new kind of series for a global audience. I have previously been a fan of "Profit" with Adrian Pasdar, but since then it seems that there is a lack of controversial shows. My Favorite movies are: Bitter Moon, Moonstruck, Sideways, Breaking Away.
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