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March 11, 2014 6:02 PM   Subscribe

A Lie Agreed Upon: David Milch's Deadwood (SLVimeo, NSFW). A video essay by film and TV critic Matt Zoller Seitz, narrated by Jim Beaver and edited by Steven Santos, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the show's premiere.

Seitz and Deadwood previously on MetaFilter. Also, be sure to read Seitz's blog post at RogerEbert.com for background information and annotated excerpts from the editing script, as well as the advice to watch it on a large screen with a good sound system if you can. Also well worth your time are Alan Sepinwall's recaps of the series, quite a few of which include recollections and musing in the comments sections from several members of the cast, including Jim Beaver, Keone Young, W. Earl Brown, and Garrett Dillahunt.
posted by zombieflanders (81 comments total) 59 users marked this as a favorite

 
Best. Show. Ever.

I would have gone with "Goddammit, Swearengen, I don't trust you as far as I could th'ow you, but I enjoy the way you lie" for the title, personally.
posted by entropicamericana at 6:37 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


I spent longer on coming up with the title than the rest of the article, but 72 characters is a lot less than you think it is.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:47 PM on March 11 [5 favorites]


When I worked at an entertainment store, the cheap rental section had Deadwood. Someone had neglected to return the last two discs of the show. It appeared to be VERY popular, as at least once a week we had customers in PISSED that they couldn't finish the series.

Unfortunately, since it was in the cheapo section the head office would not replace them.

I decided that I should watch the show, but never got around to it.

I assume it comes highly recommended by Metafilter?
posted by Twain Device at 6:52 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


To my mind, Deadwood is better than anything that came before or since. I rate it more highly than The Wire and even Peep Show or The Thick of It, all three of which I rate very highly indeed.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:57 PM on March 11 [5 favorites]


SAN FRANCISCO COCKSUCKAS!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:57 PM on March 11 [12 favorites]


Oh, didn't realize the character limit was that short. I guess be brief or be fucked is the order of the day.
posted by entropicamericana at 6:58 PM on March 11 [9 favorites]


Metafilter: One vile fucking task after another.
posted by Aznable at 7:00 PM on March 11 [7 favorites]


Deadwood regularly made me fucking gasp - both for the brutality and for the Shakespearean gamesmanship that regularly occurred.
posted by notsnot at 7:17 PM on March 11 [3 favorites]


I tried multiple times and could never get into Deadwood. The writing just came off as stilted, anachronistically vulgar and trying way too hard to be smart. Were we intended to believe anyone actually ever talked that way? Basically all the characters sounded like Ricky Jay's stage act (who amusingly enough was in the show)
posted by crayz at 7:17 PM on March 11


I don't think anyone's forgiven Milch for "Joe from Cincinnati", which was an enormous train wreck, though it tried to follow the humanist themes started in the last season of Deadwood.
posted by Catblack at 7:19 PM on March 11


Ian McShane was glorious in Deadwood. I'm still pissed at HBO for pulling the rug out from under Milch midway through season 3's filming. There was a slowburn building up that would have paid off handsomely in season 4 but instead he was forced into wrapping things up on the fly over a handful of episodes,
posted by KingEdRa at 7:24 PM on March 11 [8 favorites]


anachronistically vulgar

New York Magazine: Cussing And Fighting
Jesse Sheidlower, the American editor of the Oxford English Dictionary and the scholar of cussing who wrote The F-Word, says probably not. Not that frontiersmen were genteel. “There were cursing contests when cowboys would get together and insult each other,” he says. But “the evidence that we have is that they were using more religious blasphemy than the sexual insults which are popular today.” And on the show.
Obscenity Rap - "That leads to problems for the writers of historical fictions. If you have your characters use historically accurate swear words, they're apt to sound no more offensive than your grandmother in a mild snit. The only way to convey the potency of their oaths is to have them use modern swear-words, even if they're anachronistic."

see: Quebec French profanity
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:25 PM on March 11 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I'm in the Deadwood is the greatest show ever camp.

In fact, I think it's the greatest thing ever. Better than any play, movie, book, meal, friend, or lover I've ever spent time with. I've watched it all the way through eight times, have listened to Milch lecture for hours--audio and print--and read everything I've found that he's been part of.

One day I'll get around to creating davidmilch.com, and archive everything I've collected.
posted by dobbs at 7:25 PM on March 11 [8 favorites]


"I am a sinner who does not expect forgiveness, but at least I am not a government official."
posted by jonmc at 7:26 PM on March 11 [6 favorites]


I don't think anyone's forgiven Milch for "Joe from Cincinnati", which was an enormous train wreck,

I quite like the show, though the conclusion sucks. My understanding is that HBO shorted him two episodes. Last week they announced they weren't picking up his new show, to which I say, Fuck HBO.
posted by dobbs at 7:27 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


Swearengen has left Deadwood and is now a creative director for a video game company
posted by hellojed at 7:29 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


Deadwood is and will probably remain my favorite show of all time. It's just so dense with brilliance and beauty that watching it is like eating dark chocolate, and as with dark chocolate nothing else quite hits the same spot. The funeral of season two is a glorious example of that.
posted by invitapriore at 7:30 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


Were we intended to believe anyone actually ever talked that way?

I'm pretty sure they didn't walk around speaking in iambic pentameter in Elizabethan England either, but who cares if it's an engaging, well written and well acted story...
posted by jim in austin at 7:30 PM on March 11 [14 favorites]


Oh, man. I just posted a video of the quote from the title the other day. It's a wonderful little piece of profane philosophy.

(A little context for those of you who haven't seen the show: Jeffrey Jones's character is the town newspaperman, whose office has been trashed in the night.)
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 7:32 PM on March 11 [3 favorites]


Last week they announced they weren't picking up his new show, to which I say, Fuck HBO.

Well, John From Cincinnati and Luck were both pretty awful, for different reasons, and none of the other stuff listed on his wiki looks particularly inspiring, so I guess...them's the breaks?
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:53 PM on March 11


I seem to remember reading or hearing around the time of Deadwood's cancellation that Milch basically gave in to HBO on the cancellation in order to get his deal on John from Cincinnati, which is just so fucking tragic that I can't even begin to comprehend it. It's also rather disappointing, if true, as David Simon fought hard to keep The Wire going until they'd told the story they wanted, and The Wire never had anywhere near the popularity of Deadwood. If Simon could do it, then Milch probably could have done it, too.
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:55 PM on March 11


Yeah, like in the Obscenity Rap link above, the idea behind the swearing was to update it to let the audience feel the weight of how vulgar it was. Swears back then were religious because that was the big taboo, but they're mild these days. Now the worst swears are more sexual in nature. So in a way this is like swearing adjusted for inflation.

I also really sort of enjoy watching people who aren't familiar with the show get super worked up when someone quotes the "Those who doubt me..." line.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:55 PM on March 11 [5 favorites]


If Simon could do it, then Milch probably could have done it, too.

As I recall, Milch had the added problem of one or two of his actors being extremely critical of HBO in interviews.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:59 PM on March 11


There was a slowburn building up

Literally -- the real town of Deadwood burnt down, and there's quite a bit of foreshadowing in that direction on the show.

Re David Milch and other series, I'm OK with the idea that Deadwood was a perfect lightning-in-a-bottle moment that can never be repeated.

Frankly, I think that, with maybe a few exceptions, that's the way it works in general. I can't think of many exceptional TV series creators who had more than one truly great idea. And most of the exceptions I can come up with involved spinoffs.
posted by Sara C. at 8:08 PM on March 11


I don't have the figures in front of me, but I imagine Deadwood was a lot more expensive than The Wire.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:08 PM on March 11


I seem to remember reading or hearing around the time of Deadwood's cancellation that Milch basically gave in to HBO on the cancellation in order to get his deal on John from Cincinnati...

My readings have shown that this is not true, that rather, HBO told Milch that if he bad mouthed them regarding the cancellation then JFC would not go ahead but that it was being cancelled either way. He's practically brought to tears on the extras of the complete box set when he talks about the show being cancelled.

The curse--as far as I'm concerned--with Milch is that he is under contract to HBO. They keep getting him to do stuff because he gets paid either way, but HBO doesn't feel compelled to renew his stuff or pick up his shows because he gets paid either way. His last two pilots for them both sounded great -- a 70s NY cop show and a show about the top 1% of the 1% -- very annoyed HBO didn't give them a shot though I believe they shot both the pilots.

I'm always amazed at the shit people watch -- Game of Thrones and Walking Dead being the two most baffling successes to me -- yet Milch can't seem to catch a break.

The Wire never had anywhere near the popularity of Deadwood.

It also had anywhere near the budget. Period, horses, costumes...

McShane even offered to do the fourth season free gratis, but that was a drop in the bucket.

Well, John From Cincinnati and Luck were both pretty awful

Yeah, I don't agree. I think they're both above average shows.
posted by dobbs at 8:10 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


Frankly, I think that, with maybe a few exceptions, that's the way it works in general. I can't think of many exceptional TV series creators who had more than one truly great idea. And most of the exceptions I can come up with involved spinoffs.

Bryan Fuller, Judd Apatow and of course Joss Whedon are all that spring to mind for me, and the first two of those are very debatable.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:10 PM on March 11


Imagine The Wire had consistently great acting -- that's how good Deadwood is. Well, that's almost how good it is.
posted by NortonDC at 8:14 PM on March 11


a 70s NY cop show and a show about the top 1% of the 1%

No disrespect to David Milch, but these are shows that have already been done to death on other networks. Which usually isn't HBO's style.
posted by Sara C. at 8:17 PM on March 11


I don't have the figures in front of me, but I imagine Deadwood was a lot more expensive than The Wire.

I remember reading, around when it was cancelled, that it was close to $10 million an episode.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:23 PM on March 11


Luck might have been an ok show, in terms of writing/acting, but the fact that more than one horse died during the filming doomed it (and most deservedly so).
posted by TwoStride at 8:23 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


Found my answer: "'The Wire,' for example, is one of HBO's most critically acclaimed and successful shows. It costs approximately $1.5 Million to produce a single episode of that show. Another HBO show - 'Deadwood' - costs about $5 Million per episode of that show to produce."
posted by Navelgazer at 8:28 PM on March 11 [3 favorites]


Good to hear that Milch didn't give up on Deadwood for JFC, then.
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:29 PM on March 11


McShane even offered to do the fourth season free gratis

Free fucking gratis.
posted by Beardman at 8:38 PM on March 11 [20 favorites]


Deadwood shot outside, on an extensive set. And they had a big cast.

I remember painfully the abrupt end of the series. When word that they were dismantling the set came out, I knew it was all over. Fortunately, I never actually believed the story HBO gave about doing one or two "films" instead of Season 4, so my crushing disappointment was contained, somewhat, when I heard that set was down. Because I knew it was never going to come back up, and the movie talk was now proven to be lies.
posted by thelonius at 8:43 PM on March 11


There's a clever bit of dialogue in the show that seems to be a wink at the style of the show's profanity (and, on searching for the exact wording, it seems Wikipedia shares that interpretation):

E.B. Farnum: Some ancient Italian maxim fits our situation, whose particulars escape me.
Francis Wolcott: Is the gist that I'm shit outta luck?
Farnum: Did they speak that way then?

posted by IAmUnaware at 8:55 PM on March 11 [14 favorites]


I finally got around to watching the rest of Deadwood this past month, and finished it two days ago. I had watched season one as it aired, but never got to the rest of it. My immediate reaction at the end was something along the lines of "Why the hell did they cancel this?!"

I spent all of January watching The Wire, and at the end I thought it was the greatest thing I'd ever seen. Now I'm not so sure. Just one more season of Deadwood would've been enough...just one more.

And also, I love Gerald McRaney. His performance as George Hearst was excellent, and I can only imagine how it would've (re: should've) ended had they gone on. Damn HBO!
posted by Wrongshanks at 9:10 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


No disrespect to David Milch, but these are shows that have already been done to death on other networks. Which usually isn't HBO's style.

As opposed to westerns?
posted by entropicamericana at 9:22 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


I wanted to write a comic series called Al Swearengen's Chrono Engine, in which Al finds a time machine and travels to a space opera-esque future, and then comes back in time to get Adams and Dan and what's-his-name, and then is pursued by Bullock into the future. The best part of it (as far as I had planned) was when Al returned to Deadwood to grab another copy of himself to escape the jaws of a closing trap, and the new Al betrayed and killed the old Al. It would have been great and I may have talked about it before so I'll shut up.
posted by neuromodulator at 9:34 PM on March 11 [10 favorites]


I really like "John from Cincinnati."
posted by koeselitz at 9:47 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


When people claim to like John from Cincinnati I know that they surely mean they loved Ed O'Neil in the show because he was great and nothing else was even remotely watchable because Jesus Christ that little kid, even.

So yeah. Ed O'Neil's scenes.
posted by xmutex at 10:25 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


“There were cursing contests when cowboys would get together and insult each other”

Sooo... they be talkin' dirty?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:33 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


That was a great overview of Deadwood. But I wish it had paid even a third as much attention to the women on the show as it did the men--because the show itself did right by the women. The women in Deadwood were constrained by their cultural context, but, somehow, not limited. And they got storylines and character arcs with just as much meaning as the men's.

Ah, well. It was an awesome show.
posted by suelac at 10:43 PM on March 11 [10 favorites]


And also, I love Gerald McRaney. His performance as George Hearst was excellent, and I can only imagine how it would've (re: should've) ended had they gone on.

He's basically playing the same character in House of Cards.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:46 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


Watched Deadwood in its entirety recently, and I think it'll go down in history as being my gateway western. What's funny is I've never been drawn to the genre at all, but something about Deadwood just hooked me, and now I have an interest in the genre that I had previously lacked. One thing I like is how they gave us heroes (Bullock, Starr, Hickock) in addition to giving us a brilliant fucking antihero (Swearengen). A nice break from shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and the Sopranos, that only give us antiheroes.

I'm still pissed at HBO for pulling the rug out from under Milch midway through season 3's filming. There was a slowburn building up that would have paid off handsomely in season 4 but instead he was forced into wrapping things up on the fly over a handful of episodes,

So THAT explains why Season 3 ended so anticlimactically. I remember watching the finale and being like, "Really, that's it?" I mean, even with the cancellation, they could have given us something even a little more rewarding. Not with a bang...

Still, I felt like elements of season 3 were kinda weak. I could not bring myself to care about the theatre troupe subplot, although the Langrishe character had potential. And even though it feels heartless to type this, I thought the Martha Bullock character didn't have much purpose after they killed off her son. Didn't seem terribly relevant to the plot anymore. And I thought they over-used Calamity Jane. She was a good character, but after a few minutes of screen time, I found her one-note delivery pretty grating. She should have been used more sparingly.

Nonetheless, a truly excellent show. I think Doc Cochrane was my favorite character. I just freakin loved his diction. During my weeks-long binge watching, I found myself speaking like him on occasion when I was drunk. Heh.

Ultimately, I'm convinced the show got cancelled because it lacked beautiful people. Everyone was just kinda grimy, even the few who could be considered conventionally attractive. American audiences want glamour, and Deadwood was the opposite of that.

BTW : was anybody else as happy as I to see Alma Garrett and George Hearst on this season of House of Cards? Sadly, I don't remember them sharing any scenes together, although I'm getting ready for a re-watch, so perhaps I'll catch something I missed the first time.
posted by evil otto at 10:49 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


Regarding budget : if they made Deadwood now, I wonder if they'd just use CGI for the outdoor sets, like they do with Boardwalk Empire.

Probably would have saved them a ton of money, although I doubt the technology was good enough (or cheap enough) at the time.
posted by evil otto at 11:10 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


I don't know where you're getting the idea that Boardwalk Empire uses CGI sets. A lot is done in post to make it look pristine, but the boardwalk is actually a standing exterior set that was specifically built for the show, in Brooklyn (but not on a beach AFAIK).

Now that is expensive.

Pretty sure Deadwood was just shot on one of the many old movie ranches in the LA area. The money is in the costumes and props, the horses, fricking picture stagecoaches, and the sheer amounts of time and labor that it takes to get a period shoot looking right.
posted by Sara C. at 11:22 PM on March 11


Huh. Coulda sworn there was an FPP at some point about how BE makes extensive use of CGI on their exterior shots, and how they do it so well that nobody notices. Idea being that, without the CGI, the show would be prohibitively expensive.

(shrug)

I could be mistaken.
posted by evil otto at 11:29 PM on March 11


Ah, here we go. Looks like they use CGI for a lot of unexpected things, although perhaps not exclusively for the sets.
posted by evil otto at 11:34 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


Came for the San Francisco cocksuckers. Left satisfied.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 12:11 AM on March 12 [4 favorites]


When I first introduced Deadwood to my Father, who is a teacher of everything but math and science, he pronounced it "Shakespearian." Now, I introduced him at not the first episode, but one that leads up to one where my Dad's chronic kidney stone problem would be a maybe trigger, if gruff 60+ men have those. Triggers, I mean. Dad has had some really impressively sized kidney stones. (That guy had one the size of a 9mm bullet, no lie.)

I showed him what was hopefully the "easiest" episode I had available, as we were watching it in sequence checking them out from the local library.

We gave him the series on disc for Xmas that year. He LOVES it. To the point where my Mom is annoyed by how often he'll watch it from start to finish and the use of the long c-word. Only because it becomes easier to use the language when you hear it so much. ;-)

I had the same problem the summer my husband and I binge watched it checking discs out from the library while the kids were at their dad's at the time.

So. I guess what I have to say is, "Bring out the whiskey and peaches."
And watch this show.

(I also tried to introduce Dad to Breaking Bad, but he doesn't like it because "there is no one to like or respect". He didn't even make it into more than 5 episodes. Any advice?)
posted by lilywing13 at 1:36 AM on March 12 [2 favorites]


Second only to The Wire - and not second by much, either.
posted by Paul Slade at 1:42 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]


I watched at first because of Ian McShane who had played Lovejoy in the television series based on the Jonathan Gash book series. He inhabited that role and I could no longer picture the character Lovejoy as any of the versions I'd envisioned while reading the books before I saw McShane in the role. I think this has been true with all his work. He plays a very good rogue and he is still working fifty two years after he started fresh from drama school at age twenty. He has roles in three or four films being released this year. He seems to work all the time. As for Deadwood, I think Swearingen was his greatest triumph so far. I can't imagine how one could care about that character, but you do; he was like a force of nature you have to reckon with; he mattered. I think he was the pivot that made the show the masterpiece it was. I was tempted to watch the whole thing again but not right now; it would wreck my vocabulary for weeks.
posted by Anitanola at 2:43 AM on March 12 [2 favorites]


Swearingen (swear engine?) was always the most fun, but for me, E.B.Farnum's over-the-top Shakespearean manner of speaking was the show's true delight. While working in retail, I often caught myself mimicking some of his out-of-place grandiosity over mundane subjects:

"If you'll follow me, kind sir, I believe we can furnish you with an inkjet printer that will most adequately fulfill your every need. And should you require additional sundries, myself and my staff will make it our mission to accommodate such requisites..." etc.
posted by ShutterBun at 3:12 AM on March 12 [17 favorites]


swear engine

That is a great pun, but the character is named after a real person in Deadwood, so, it was a free ride for the writers.
posted by thelonius at 3:37 AM on March 12 [4 favorites]


My late wife dragged me over, sat me down and made me watch this show that had, y'know, fuckin' Lovejoy in it (not my thing at all). Mesmerised and forever grateful.

Coasted through John from Cincinnati too, can't really decide if I like it or not. It's really strange. I like how some of the direction seems to be around making everyone seem really odd and unnatural and sort of hieratic. What a strange show. Undeniably great title sequence though. Johnny Appleseed became our goin'-on-a-car-ride song.
posted by aesop at 4:23 AM on March 12


E.B.Farnum's over-the-top Shakespearean manner of speaking

I pretty much liked the show from the first episode, but I really got hooked when I saw E.B. deliver a straight-up soliloquy while scrubbing the floor of one of his rooms.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:31 AM on March 12 [6 favorites]


I really got hooked when I saw E.B. deliver a straight-up soliloquy while scrubbing the floor of one of his rooms

According to one of the writers, everyone knew that William Sanderson was "terrified" of those monologues, and couldn't tell if Milch was doing it for the story or just to mess with him.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:45 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]


I absolutely adored the show, and I've rewatched it three or four times now. I finally got a coworker to start watching it, and I felt bad as he was getting so excited about the final season. Every day he'd watched a new episode, he would talk about how he wondered how things would be resolved, and every day, I thought, well, damn. He's going to be sorely disappointed.

What they did put together was pretty damn stunning, though there were certainly some hit and miss episodes. If they'd been able to get a fourth season, I imagine it would be remembered as just about the best thing ever.

That said, Al's closing monologue while (again) scrubbing blood wraps up the series beautiful, and is in itself a great speech.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:04 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]


We only got into Deadwood after it had been cancelled, but without knowing it was cancelled. We had just heard it was good so we ordered the first series. We loved it instantly and as soon as each series was finished we couldn't wait to get the next one. So when we watched the last series the conversation went like "I'm just going to Love Film to order the next one... Huh. I can't find it." "Oh are they still making the next one?" "I don't know, let's go to Google and find out... NOOOOOOOOOO!!!"
I'm still (fucking) devastated.
posted by billiebee at 5:16 AM on March 12 [2 favorites]


I think Doc Cochrane was my favorite character. I just freakin loved his diction. During my weeks-long binge watching, I found myself speaking like him on occasion when I was drunk. Heh.

Ultimately, I'm convinced the show got cancelled because it lacked beautiful people. Everyone was just kinda grimy, even the few who could be considered conventionally attractive. American audiences want glamour, and Deadwood was the opposite of that.


Brad Dourif continues to impress me as one of the best character actors around, and his performance as the Doc might just be his best, imo. And no beautiful people? Timothy Olyphant strikes me as one of the handsomest men I've ever seen in my life. After seeing him on The Office a few years ago...yowza. Guess I'll write that down as (yet another) reason to finally getting around to checking out Justified.
posted by Wrongshanks at 5:21 AM on March 12 [2 favorites]


I had always thought the show was based on Pete Dexter's book, but the show's producer claims not. The book is amazing and the show is pretty good and would have been better if it hadn't been cancelled prematurely.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:25 AM on March 12


Watched Deadwood in its entirety recently, and I think it'll go down in history as being my gateway western.

That's funny, because after Deadwood other westerns are pale imitations for me. I can hardly watch even, say Unforgiven or Tombstone anymore without sighing wistfully.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 5:52 AM on March 12


Brad Dourif continues to impress me as one of the best character actors around, and his performance as the Doc might just be his best, imo.

I've long maintained that the last episode of the first season is one of the best TV episodes ever produced anywhere, and I credit Dourif's performance as an important part of that. His dance with Jewel in the final scene would have been a perfect end to the entire series.

"Say 'I'm as nimble as a forest creature.'"
"You're as nimble as a forest creature."
"No, say it about yourself."
"...I'm as nimble as a forest creature."
posted by middleclasstool at 6:32 AM on March 12 [7 favorites]


If I had to make a list of my top ten television characters ever, half of them would be from Deadwood. Swearengen, Doc, Dan Dority, Trixie, and Jane were all just so good. Oh wait, and then there's Ellsworth, and Charlie Utter...

It gave a spotlight to a lot of good character actors, too. My husband and I were very amused recently that the actor who played racist horse-fucker Steve appeared on True Detective as "Steve."
posted by heatvision at 6:47 AM on March 12 [2 favorites]


That's funny, because after Deadwood other westerns are pale imitations for me.

Have you seen Once Upon a Time in the West? I'm not suggesting it'd be the case for anyone else, but if I had to opine whether it or Deadwood were better it'd be a challenge.
posted by mr. digits at 6:59 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]


I never realized that the actor who plead Dority was Warren in "There's Something About Mary"
posted by thelonius at 7:10 AM on March 12


That's funny, because after Deadwood other westerns are pale imitations for me. I can hardly watch even, say Unforgiven or Tombstone anymore without sighing wistfully.

Check out The Proposition, starring Guy Pearce and Ray Winstone. It's brutal and unforgiving and masterful. Roger Ebert said something to the effect of it being a good representation of Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, and it's hard to disagree. It's very different than Deadwood, but it has a sort of bleakness and despair that Deadwood was always sort of on the fringes of.
posted by Wrongshanks at 8:00 AM on March 12 [4 favorites]


I was going to bring up Pete Dexter's book - its a great piece. I don't believe the story itself is based on the book, (I read it years ago) but certainly characters, setting etc...
posted by sfts2 at 8:01 AM on March 12


The Proposition? Screenplay by Nick Cave? Gotta watch this.
posted by sfts2 at 8:08 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]


If you need your Cave fix, Ghosts... of the Civil Dead is also worth a watch.
posted by mr. digits at 8:45 AM on March 12


As for Deadwood, I think Swearingen was his greatest triumph so far.

It's funny, after Deadwood NBC cast him in a huge role in their huge new Sunday night drama series that was supposed to be a really fucking big deal. And I'm pretty sure one reason it went nowhere is that people tuned in, saw Ian McShane playing a biblical patriarch-king, and thought, "Well I dunno, this is no Al Swearingen."

There's something about the right size of hero. You need someone with teeth. You need someone where maybe there's an upper rung of cocksuckers he's worried about. God-King is going to be a lot less interesting to watch -- even with one of the best actors of our time in the role -- than a man like Al Swearingen.
posted by Sara C. at 8:54 AM on March 12 [4 favorites]


Kings was a great example of the networks not getting what makes modern TV drama work. Ham-handed effort to win the demo with a boring youthful rivalry / love interest story and to keep the mass market with dumbed down politics and sci fi. Networks do it right when they just plain embrace that they are post-demo and uncool (CBS epitomizes this) or just say "forget the business model, give it to me just like I was HBO" (Hannibal for now, but a lot more soon I expect).
posted by MattD at 9:41 AM on March 12 [2 favorites]


I have seen both The Proposition and Once Upon a Time in the West. I don't really remember either one of them that well, though. The Proposition in particular bored me. I should watch it again.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:17 AM on March 12


John from Cincinnati was great, I could have watched many seasons of that madness.

The surfers can't act and little to nothing was gained by casting them instead of actual actors. So that didn't pay off. But I loved the glorious weirdness of John.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:17 AM on March 12


Maybe you people who don't like John from Cincinnati just need to dump out.

Kings

I liked Kings! Thought it had potential and I was totally on-board (and I'm pretty sure I was nowhere near the target demo). Still bummed it didn't get a real chance.

Also, season 1 Lovejoy is best Lovejoy. That mullet in later seasons did him no favors.
posted by curious nu at 12:54 PM on March 12 [2 favorites]


My main issue with Kings was that it moved way too fast. I missed one episode, tuned in the next week, and had no idea what was going on.

Also, it really did have a problem of being too big and maximalist and grand -- there was no real conflict, because seriously when you're the king of the world, who cares? How bad could it really be?

One of the best sources of conflict on Deadwood was the encroaching civilization with all its bigger, more powerful agents. There was always a San Francisco Cocksucker waiting to steal everything Al Swearingen had. Kings didn't really have anything like that.
posted by Sara C. at 1:00 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


I agree with dobbs that this is not only my favorite TV show of all time, it is one of my favorite things ever. It is one of the few creative endeavors I am evangelical about.

I fondly recall when I forced my wife to watch the first two episodes while we were in California during our first vacation together. She was resistant at first but by the fourth episode when Wild Bill is murdered, she was fully on board. It was the third time I had watched it all the way through and it was really fun to watch it with someone who was new to it (she had never even heard of it before).

One of my favorite characters was Preacher Smith in the first season. His gradual debilitation was heartbreaking to watch. I am sure I am not the first person to point this out, but his speech at Wild Bill's funeral that references Corinthians, Chapter 12 is basically encapsulates the underlying theme of the entire show:

"Saint Paul tells us: By one’s spirit are we all baptized in the one body…For the body is not one member but many… He tells us, The eye cannot say unto the hand, 'I have no need of thee.' Nor again the head to the feet, 'I have no need of thee.' Nay, much more those members of the body which seem to be more feeble, and those members of the body which we think of as less honorable, are all necessary. He says that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care, one to another, and where the one member suffer, all the members suffer with it."
posted by Falconetti at 3:02 PM on March 12 [7 favorites]


His gradual debilitation was heartbreaking to watch. I am sure I am not the first person to point this out, but his speech at Wild Bill's funeral that references Corinthians, Chapter 12 is basically encapsulates the underlying theme of the entire show:

I'd go so far as to say that theory of connectedness is not just what Milch put into Deadwood but what he truly believes is the case. He has said many times that he believes "Our belief that we are separate is an illusion."
posted by dobbs at 5:21 PM on March 12 [2 favorites]


I pretty much liked the show from the first episode, but I really got hooked when I saw E.B. deliver a straight-up soliloquy while scrubbing the floor of one of his rooms."

That made a big impression on me, too; and back on MeFi when the show was on, in a thread I went to the trouble to transcribe and post it. (I was replying to a comment where someone said that those who say it's "Shakesperian" can't be more than superficially familiar with Shakespeare, which mightily annoyed me.)
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:12 PM on March 13 [4 favorites]


10th anniversary already? Damn. It was such a great show.
posted by homunculus at 8:41 PM on March 13


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