Deadwood season one review
In a nutshell: The first season of HBO’s
exploration of frontier myth and reality
The 411: Set during the richest gold strike in American History, Deadwood is an outlaw settlement on Indian territory where
American law doesn’t apply.
Executive producer David Milch (co-creator of NYPD
he wanted to create a series "where it was legitimate
to explore the genesis of law."
"What interested me about Deadwood is that it was an
outlaw settlement, on Indian territory, so the American law
didn’t apply – there were no laws at all." How does one
behave morally in a town with no law?
"This is one of the great characters and performances of recent times – ferociously intelligent and viciously funny…"
This is an astoundingly assured first season – as good as
any I can remember. The characters are huge, the themes complex
and the mood as dark and grimy as any post-Unforgiven western.
Set amongst the Gold Rush in the Black Hills of Deadwood, Wild
Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane come to camp – Hickok to play
poker, Jane to drink whisky. Hickok comes with a fearsome reputation
as peerless gunslinger and lawman but is weary from countless
Ian McShane (Lovejoy to you and me) plays
Al Swearengen, the murderous proprietor of the Gem Saloon who
controls the dope, the whores and the real estate. This is
one of the great characters and performances of recent times
– ferociously intelligent and viciously funny, Swearengen is
possessed of a barely credible ruthlessness that is truly frightening.
How he wasn’t Emmy nominated is anybody’s guess (although the
series received 11 Emmy nominations – almost unheard of for
a first season).
People come to Deadwood to get rich prospecting, to escape
murder warrants or just to make their way. It’s often dazzlingly
funny with best written dialogue on the television.
WILD BILL: Sure you want to quit, Jack? The game’s all that’s
between you and getting called a cunt.
BARMAN: Meeting adjourned, fellas – take it outside.
WILD BILL: That droop eye of yours looks like the hood on
a cunt to me, Jack. When you talk your mouth looks like a cunt
JACK: I ain’t gonna get in no gunfight with you Hickok.
WILD BILL: But you will run your cunt mouth at me. And I will
take it – to play poker.
Deadwood revolves around misfit characters engaged in a ruthless
power struggle. Everyone’s actions are seeped in moral ambiguity
– none of the bad guys are irredeemably evil and all of the
good guys have their vices. It’s been compared to the
Sopranos which is understandable enough but this is actually better
than the Sopranos’ first season. It’s that good.
Sky One have bought the rights and will be showing it this
The best thing about it: The depth and complexity of the characters
The worst thing about it: It could do with a bit more ass
The verdict on Deadwood: HBO own these big network motherfuckers.
Marks out of 10? 9.5