20 September 2006 | garynorton
A Hell of a place to make your fortune...
This stands out for me as one of the best series I have ever seen hit the small screen. The attention to detail,story and character is second to none. Deadwood is brought to life by the good, the bad and the very ugly- with some of the most wonderfully theatrically profane, but ultra-realistic dialogue of any western. True, you could question some of the dialogue for exactly how accurate it is to the time it is set- but it sounds absolutely convincing in the world they have managed to build. Lets face it- not too many Westerns even bothered all that much in the first place! The 3 series have impeccable standards of production, weaving some of the real historical events of the time into a fictional Old West testament. The degradation, ill manners, costumes, dirt, mud and profanities are all present and accounted for.
Aside from the "real" characters we know of from Deadwood (Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane and even the Sheriff Bullock), we have some of the most unsavoury villains of the time as well.
The various stories, historical events and personal issues of the characters interweave with no discernible template or pattern to formalise the show. The only thing that is certain in the old West is that where the desire for excess, fortune and greed are combined, human nature will see to the rest.
Stand out performances are plentiful in this series- but Ian McShane is incredible, a true tour-de-force, a foul-mouthed, back-stabbing bad ass villain- who manages to humanise a repellent character in Al Swearengen.
As the series wore on, the writers broadened his character and nature a little more so it was unavoidable but to side with him- even agree with his nastiest ideas.
This was not a compromise or sell-out of the principally dark natured and notoriously ill-tempered brothel owner! "Sparks" of humanity seem to have warmed his character, particularly from his confrontations with the flint-like moral code & core of Sheriff Bullock (Timothy Olyphant). However, even Bullocks is prone to questionable actions, as he wrestles with his own conscience to resolve things in a "civil" way, or resort to a pistol-whipping to get the job done.
If you have never seen this- look out for repeats or go buy the box sets and enjoy the best Western experience ever made. My only regret is that its all over after 3 series (apart from a couple of 2 hour specials they plan to make to round it off.) Short but ever so sweet!!