He’s checkin’ it twice
And just when I said that Deadwood couldn’t be cheery. Maybe “No Other Sons or Daughters” doesn’t quite fit that description, but the humour here is superb and is almost enough to make us forget what a terrible place Deadwood can be. Or perhaps not. While most of the camp, particularly Al, is putting its best foot forward (new frock coats anyone?), Cy remains monstrous; all the more so for the contrast. It’s interesting that a man introduced as a more “civilized” version of Al has emerged a less human one. While civilization brings out the best in the town’s citizens, its representation makes us wonder just what the residents are working toward. Continue reading
Take it easy, Veronica
Well, that was depressing. Deadwood could never be described as a cheery series but some episodes are a lot bleaker than others. It’s somewhat ironic that the darkness moves in just as Alma learns what her claim’s actually worth but, as I said last week, the Garrett mine’s more important as a structural element than as a subplot, an excuse to tie the characters together and generate a sense of momentum for the season. It’s irrelevance gets underscored here as all the gold in the world can’t change life for Trixie. The world, or at least her world, is fixed and the impossibility of living in it is trumped only by the impossibility of changing it. Continue reading
“Bullock Returns to Camp” is, unsurprisingly, about Bullock returning to camp. The episode title isn’t indicated within this or any other episode of Deadwood, but it’s hard not to let it impact my impression. It’s mundane enough to suggest that nothing of particular import happens here, that this is a mere housekeeping chapter; Bullock’s a good character, but his absence from the camp hasn’t exactly been felt nor was his return ever really in doubt for the single episode that he was away. But mundane events can have momentous consequences and Bullock, by his mere presence, changes the dynamic in Deadwood. Continue reading
We have notes
Last week I made mention of Al’s capacity as a community leader and this week sees that in full force. Its one of Deadwood’s most a fascinating elements that a man so evil could be a force for good. To be certain, Al’s still entirely motivated by self interest, that interest just happens to be entirely in line with that of the camp. A bad man who happens to do good isn’t such an unusual thing in fiction, but Al doesn’t save the camp despite his villainy, he does so because of it. Only a man such as Al could’ve risen to such a position of power in a place like Deadwood and only someone in such a position could accomplish what he does. Continue reading
Looks honest enough to me
“The Trial of Jack McCall” doesn’t quite pop the way Deadwood‘s first four episodes did. Such dips are unfortunately common in “fallout episodes,” as creators seem to struggle with giving big events the appropriate recognition while still propelling the story forward. What shows have to say after their big moments is seldom equal to the way the audience feels about them, and there may be some tacit acknowledgement of that in the way this story unfolds. Hickok’s death rocks the community, but its an empty sort of rocking; everyone recognises that an event has taken place and clamour to be a part of it while those who actually grieve for Bill try to distance themselves from the spectacle.
It’s surprising how much our expectations of television have changed over the last decade. Character death (particularly surprising, random, mid-season character death) has become an accepted device in our post-Lost world but I remember being shocked when I first saw “Here Was a Man,” a fact that seems absurd in retrospect as, leaving aside historical fact the audience may or may not have been aware of, Deadwood telegraphed Hickok’s death almost from the moment he appeared on screen. The effect has been somewhat diminished with time but, back then, Deadwood was able to have its cake and eat it too; delivering a “shocking turn” that was built on straightforward story structure. Continue reading
Three episodes in and we get a significant expansion to Deadwood’s already sprawling cast. It’s yet another testament to the show’s superbly balanced ensemble that the arrival of the Bella Union crew still isn’t enough to make the series feel too crowded. The opening of the new saloon proves that Al’s power isn’t absolute and that certainly isn’t a bad thing, but it’s hardly a problem that needed addressing at this point. The “status quo” of Deadwood was barely established enough to qualify for the name and Milch is already introducing a disruptive element. It’s a bold move that pays immediate dividends. Continue reading
How many times to we have to say “Hardware Store”?
“Deep Water” takes Deadwood from good to great in only its second episode, most notably for the superb way it makes use of its supporting cast. “Supporting” is probably a misnomer. While the show’s central conflict is still being framed as Bullock vs Swearengen, the fact of the matter is that Deadwood‘s a thoroughgoing ensemble piece. It’s difficult for any series to balance a cast of this size but what’s remarkable about this one is that it pulls off the balancing act with such BIG characters; for all the show’s grit and realism, there’s something epic about the personalities clashing here. Much of the credit for making this work needs to go to the show’s cast, and this week’s honours belong to Robin Weigert. Continue reading
My money’s on Montana
Deadwood has long held the title as my favourite series that I haven’t finished yet. I watched the first two seasons back in my days of extralegal downloading before realising that it was simply too good to watch in anything less than sterling quality. 5 years later I finally have the blu-rays in hand and I’m ready to give this series the attention it deserves. Of course, the side effect of so much anticipation is to put the show on a pedestal. My memories of this show are all jaw dropping brilliance and the premiere doesn’t quite qualify. I know that’s more unfair expectations on my part than any deficiencies on its, but it’s still hard to judge just how effectively it draws us into this world when I’m left feeling slightly dissatisfied. Continue reading