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Deadwood (S1)
DVD disk
Feb 15, 2005 By: The Shootin Surgeon
Deadwood (S1) order
Director:
David Milch

Actors:
Timothy Olyphant as Seth Bullock
Ian McShane as Al Swearengen
Keith Carradine as Wild Bill Hickock
Molly Parker as Alma Garrett

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
In the frontier camp of Deadwood, there are no laws, no marshals and no rules. Only gold and loyalty are at a premium and Saloon owner and crime boss Al Swearengens monopoly over both seems less certain once Seth Bullock a hardware dealer from Montana tries to set up an honest business in town.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?

There is absolutely no reason why DEADWOOD shouldnt be at or near the top of every western fans viewing list. As a matter of fact, I cant think of a reason why it shouldnt be at or near the top of everyones viewing list. DEADWOOD is a refreshing trip back to the days of the old spaghetti westerns, when settlers and prospectors didnt have the luxury of a Hollywood hair salon or an electric razor close at hand. The sweaty, grimy inhabitants of Deadwood, with their greed and hunger for golden nuggets, loose women and whiskey give the show a perfect setting for the sort of developing drama it packs and with a cast of fascinating characters and ever-shifting loyalties, the drama is definitely not lacking.

After having paid his dues as the second banana for a good part of his career, Olyphant makes an impressive leap to the forefront as Seth Bullock, a Sheriff turned hardware dealer who can stand up to those who scare the wits out of the rest of the townsfolk however while Bullock may be the conscience of Deadwood, Al Swearengen, the sleazy Saloon owner who redefines corruption is hands down its heart and soul. Ian McShane is simply explosive as the foul mouthed racketeer with the run of the towns very active vice industry. His character is the most entertainingly Machiavellian bad guy since Alan Rickmans Sheriff of Nottingham. Theres an entire cast of supporting characters which are equally interesting and which youre better off not getting attached to since the writers seemingly have no restraint when it comes to filling bodies with lead, adding to the excitement of the series.

Having not been around thirteen decades ago, I cant speak to the realism of the settings but it surely fits right into what people (and by people, I mean me) think frontier mining towns might have been like. Several real-life characters such as Wild Bill Hickock, Jack McCall, Calamity Jane, etc. are seamlessly blended into the story of Deadwood which also happened to be an actual illegal settlement in the Black Hills of South Dakota. With mud everywhere, skanky whores hanging around a dank saloon and language rougher than the discount steaks at JoBlos last office party, DEADWOOD is as repulsive to watch as its irresistible. Make absolutely sure you get your hands on this, it might even restore your faith in television.

THE EXTRAS

Making Deadwood: The Show Behind the Show (15 mins): A short yet well produced making of featurette displaying the usual stuff you find in this type of thing with participation by the stars, creators, etc.

The Real Deadwood: Historical Featurette (25 mins): As a western genre fan, I admit to a certain bias but this was most probably my favorite feature on this DVD or on any I've seen recently. It was produced for this DVD so at least it's not a recycled bunch of clips like most "historical featurettes" usually found in the special features section and it explains the historical material behind DEADWOOD, complete with history about the setting, the characters, the period, etc. Make sure you take a look at this one and I guarantee your second run at this show will be even better than the first.

The New Language of the Old West (30 mins) and An Imaginative Reality (30 mins): These two segments are discussions with actor Keith Carradine and director/writer/creator David Milch going over the origins of the series and the tremendous amount of profanity used by the characters. It also goes into an explanation by Milch of how he blended historical reality with fictional characters and plot points. Milch is obviously a very smart and articulate man but at a couple of points, his explanations get a bit convoluted and Carradine's face is hilarious when that happens... He looks like he's just thinking "what the f... is this guy talking about."

Four Audio Commentaries: Four of the episodes come with audio commentaries by Milch along with McShane, Olyphant, super sexy Molly Parker, Carradine, Brad Dourif (Doc Cochran) and Robin Weigert (Calamity Jane). If you thought McShane was cool in the show...

FINAL DIAGNOSIS
HBO has been putting out some quality shows for a long time but up to now I still found them considerably overrated. DEADWOOD on the other hand, deserves every bit of praise it gets as it generates sheer excitement and an adrenaline rush similar to bungee jumping without the big rubber band. You should absolutely schedule this one down on your calendar and grab yourself a copy. It's a bit pricey at around $75US but I promise you'll be watching this one over and over.
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