I hope the next few paragraphs persuade you to purchase, stream, steal ( like, from your friend), pirate ( like, from the internet), the show that is “Deadwood”. It’s a western that aired on HBO from 2004-2006 before being cancelled prematurely after the third season. All of the actors gave their best performances of their careers, and launched a few to the top (Timothy Olyphant, Molly Parker, John Hawkes, Ian McShane). Others would go on to have crucial roles on other television shows, including Dayton Callie (Sons of Anarchy), Paula Malcomson (Ray Donovan), Garret Dillahunt (Raising Hope), Titus Welliver (Sons of Anarchy), Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad), among others (now that I think of it, half of the cast shows up on “SOA”). This incredible ensemble was lead by the genius who also brought us “NYPD Blue”, David Milch.
You watch “Sons of Anarchy, you experience “Breaking Bad”, but you embrace “Deadwood”. Some shows place the emphasis on their lead character. Others want to show as much gore and blood as they can. Milch’s masterpiece was about the real life town of Deadwood. That was the main character. And not only that, but it felt like YOU, dear reader, were a part of that town. Game of Thrones is gut wrenching (in the best of ways), but you don’t ever feel like a Stark or Lannister. In Breaking Bad, as tense and exciting as it is, you’re on the outside looking in. When you watch Deadwood, you are there. You can taste every shot of whiskey Steve the Drunk took. When tragedy strikes the town, you also bonded together with the townsfolk. There was a seat saved for you every important meeting at the Gem. You become a part of that community. Community. That’s what this show is in one word. About a large group of people (mostly cuthroats) forming a community in the early days of our country. And you’re a part of it.
Sad as it is, there is not much traction for a Deadwood revival. It would be near impossible to bring all of the actors back. Their contracts ended after the the third season. So if you are expecting to jump into it when a movie comes out (like Veronica Mars), you will be waiting until the end of eternity. Yet the highly praised Firefly gets petitions it seems yearly. Monthly, Daily. And I mean in no way to disrespect Firefly. But it did only get one season compared to the three Deadwood gifted us. Let me attempt a comparison. Firefly is like that one night stand that was incredible, but ended up never seeing the girl (or guy) again. Think “Before Sunrise” if they had never made sequels. Deadwood is more like Mandy Moore from “A Walk to Remember”. You spend much more time with her, she changes you for the better, you fall in love, until one day you find out she has cancer and will die shortly. Clearly “Before Sunrise” is the superior movie, but Shane West literally has his heart ripped out. That’s the feeling of not having this story run its course.
I’m not going to sugar coat it for you. Deadwood is dark. Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of laughs throughout the show. E.B is one of the funniest written characters in drama. But as you go on and get closer to the end, you will know my meaning. And while it is dark, it is life. It’s realistic. There are little people in this world who don’t always get justice. Bad people will get away with doing bad things. It reminded me of the “Sons of Anarchy” season two finale. The main antagonist, Ethan Zobelle (played wonderfully by Adan Arkin), escapes death after all the pain he unleashed on the club. Sometimes, those guys just get away. And that’s life.
If none of the above has convinced you (and it probably hasn’t) I give you two words: Ian. McShane. As I’ve previously stated here, McShane is on the Mount Rushmore of Anti-Heroes in Drama. You are unable to take your eyes off of him from scene one. The transformation he makes from the Pilot to the last scene in Season Three is on par with Walter White, Don Draper, and Tony Soprano. I might as well state it as a fact. He is, to put it simply, a joy to watch.
And so I will end on that. There is a special kind of love I have for this show. Just browsing at pictures of the characters gives me goosebumps. It’s like looking at old friends from back home. Old memories of good times and bad. It’s not the best show ever made, but I can honestly say it’s in a league of its own. Special in it’s own fucking way. But do not fret. There is still time folks. It’s not the end of the world. To partially quote a friend of mine, “…the world ends when you’re dead…”. You’re sure as hell not dead yet. Now shut the fuck up and watch some Deadwood. Ya cocksuckers.