FROM MY OWN PRIVATE COLLECTION "Deadwood" (2004, Season One)
From the beautifully orchestrated introduction to the very last shot of the outstanding finale episode "Sold Under Sin," the first season of HBO's innovative western drama series is pure perfection. Boasting some pretty fine writing and some even finer direction, the show manages to juggle several different scenarios in limited amounts of time without attracting boredom or confusion.
And speaking of people, the actors involved exemplify what it means to be part of a fine ensemble. Each handles the complex and suprisingly vulgar western vernacular quite well, as if it took no effort at all to master their lines. It's interesting, then, to hear the actors (via audio commentary tracks) talk about how much of their own dialogue they didn't understand.
Standout cast members include Keith Carradine as the stoic yet engaging Wild Bill Hickcock, William Sanderson as E.B. Farnum, Ray McKinnon as Reverend Smith, Garrett Dillahunt as the pitiful Jack McCall and Powers Boothe as the enjoyably evil Cy Tolliver.
Only Robin Weigert as the bullish (and barely understandable) Calamity Jane and Brad Douriff as Doc Cochran earned Emmy nominations for their performances this season. Both were indeed awards-worthy.
But one person stands above all others as the show's undeniable star attraction, and that would be Ian McShane as Al Swearengen. He drops F-bombs like a sailor on steriods, and he exudes total intimidation by merely entering a room. Literally everything he says or does is worth watching.
In short, Deadwood is a terrific series, one of the many highlights from the HBO network. It's a shame it only lasted three seasons, but at least it made the most of its time.
More by this Author
1. Aaahh!!! Real Monsters I remember how cautious I was of this show when it first premiered. The character drawings seemed kind of weird, and the series seemed to be a little out there. Turns out, it was an instant...
Which ten shows left you wishing they could go on forever?
Agree with film critic Roger Ebert's best posters of the decade? I sure didn't. Here I lay out my personal picks. . .