Deadwood is a show from HBO from back in the mid-2000s.
it was one of the first generation of TV shows to actually try to be good
before, say, 1999, TV producers didn't give a shit because “fuck you, there's nothing else on!” but at some point somebody changed the game and now everybody has to worry about good storytelling.
well, some people do. other continue to not care.
people on the internet like to say that Deadwood is the third or fourth Greatest Show In The History Of Television.
rankings will vary, but normally some combination of Breaking Bad, The Sopranos and The Wire will take the top three spots.
but Deadwood consistently comes in at Number Four.
i have never seen Deadwood because i don't think i lived indoors in the mid-2000s and because the Old West never really interested me much, but i figured i ought to see the show at some point, if i want to consider myself a TV aficionado.

Deadwood has three seasons of twelve episodes each.
it got canceled after its third season because i guess HBO had other things going on, like comedy specials with Ricky Gervaise or paying Black people millions of dollars to beat each other senseless.
that premature cancellation was another huge reason i was disinclined to watch Deadwood sooner, i didn't want to give myself some kind of unsatisfying television blue balls.
but, again, People Who Take TV Seriously say that Deadwood is something i have to watch and who am i to quarrel with the collective wisdom of the internet?
they are only wrong about forty percent of the time.

Deadwood - Season One:
Season One of Deadwood frames the series.
it's just past the American Civil War and a bunch of prospectors have moved out to the Black Hills of what would later be South Dakota because somebody discovered gold in them there hills.
Deadwood can't properly be called a town, it is just a stretch of mud where a bunch of prospectors have set up tents to live in and a few entrepreneurs have built themselves wood-frame bars and whorehouses.
there is no government and no law, the prospectors and the entrepreneurs are all there illegally, in violation of several treaties with the Injuns that have legal rights to the land.
but when has America ever given a shit about the legal rights of Injuns?

the main character of the series is a whoremaster and would-be child-murderer who runs vice in the camp.
he is an ill-tempered villain, but he is charming because he swears frequently and colorfully, so we are supposed to like him.
this was back when HBO just realized that main characters don't have to be good guys, like Tony Soprano.
invariably in every episode, some conflict will arise in the camp and the main character will have to solve it by threatening somebody, beating one of his whores or dispatching his henchmen to murder somebody.
the other main character is an actual good guy who moves to the territory to open a hardware store.
by the end of Season One he ends up becoming the town sheriff when the camp decides they want to take on the trappings of a municipality, but, for most of the first season he doesn't do much else besides nurture a romantic relationship with a laudanum-addled widow.
then there are several historical figures in the show like Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane.
Wild Bill gets shot in the back of the head halfway through Season One. Calamity Jane mostly hangs around in the background being drunk and unbearable.

there is a lot in Season One of Deadwood that could be interesting, though, more often then not the show was boring as shit.
on no less then two occasions i found myself picking up my phone to absentmindedly play a game of chess and on several others, i had the impulse but i denied it.
for being unable to keep my attention fully, for forcing me to force myself to sit through it, Season One of Deadwood earns a 3.5/10.

Deadwood - Season Two:
Season Two of Deadwood introduces the central conflict of the series.
an agent from wealthy industrialist George Hearst, [real-life father of William Randolf and great grandfather of Patty] who made his real-life fortune mining gold and silver out in California and Nevada and Mexico turns up to Deadwood to try and exert his influence.
the Agent teams up with one of the locals to start spreading rumors that the Dakota government was going to move into Deadwood and impose laws and invalidate everybody's property and mining claims.
this causes a bunch of the small miners to sell their interests while they can, which George Hearst's Agent gobbles up.
this puts the Agent into direct conflict with the Foul-Mouthed Whoremaster, who has other designs on the camp.
also, the Agent enjoys murdering prostitutes which isn't so much a problem for the characters in and of itself because what's a whore's life worth, but, it is a signal to the audience that he is the Big Bad of the season.
also, the other main character, the Sheriff, has some family drama going on, but, once again, none of his stories really matter all that much.

Season Two of Deadwood gets better.
once you get accustomed to the characters and their peculiar 19th Century modes of speech and once you begin to look past the nastiness of the Whoremaster and accept him as the hero of the story, the show starts to improve.
it doesn't quite rise to the level of acclaim people have for it, but it's better then average, certainly.
for improving, and for being better then average, certainly, Season Two of Deadwood earns a 5.5/10.

Deadwood - Season Three:
Season Three of Deadwood sees the town coming together to defeat the efforts of Wealthy Industrialist George Hearst, who has come to town to take over.
Wealthy Industrialist George Hearst sets up shop in a hotel he buys on the town's only street and sets forth his machinations.
he threatens the Laudanum-Addled Widow and her child because he wants her to sell him the largest gold-producing mine in the town that she owns and ultimately ends up murdering her new husband.
he has several of his mine-workers assassinated for talking about unionizing.
he has Pinkerton thugs beat up the town's only journalist and he conspires to rig local elections by stationing Federal soldiers on the outskirts of town to vote in local elections.
Wealthy Industrialist George Hearst spends the entire season being a menacing, destabilizing force in the city.
you would think in a one-street town one of the many main characters would just go across the street to where George Hearst is holed up and shoot the fucker dead once his scheming and violence became too intolerable, this is the lawless wild west, after all, but by the time somebody works up the gumption to do that it is too late, George Hearst has surrounded himself with Pinkertons.
the Foul-Mouthed Whoremaster tries to counter Wealthy Industrialist George Hearst's machinations and it seems that the town is headed for an armed battle with both forces quartering small armies in camp.
and then, finally, the season and the series end with a whore shooting George Hearst, injuring his shoulder and George Hearst insisting that she be murdered.
rather then going to war like they'd been planing and teasing all season, the Foul-Mouthed Whoremaster decides to just murder some other whore [because he liked the whore George Hearst wanted killed] and try to dupe him.
so, he slices the throat of a totally innocent sex worker, George Hearst falls for the ruse because who can tell one whore from another, and the Big Bad of the season rides out of town having accomplished everything he wanted. the end.
what the fucking fuck!?!

not only was the end of Season Three profound anticlimactic and unsatisfying, it also shat all over the Foul-Mouthed Whoremaster's character.
the entire series exists to get you to like the Foul-Mouthed Whoremaster.
he is what you would call a magnificent bastard.
after three seasons, you almost start to forget that he tried to have a little girl murdered in the first episode, but then he goes and cuts the throat of an innocent sex worker.
throughout the entire episode you keep waiting, hoping that there will be some rouse afoot, that in the end, no, we switched her with a goat or some shit, but it doesn't go that way.
the season ends with the guy you want to like and route for revealing himself to be a terrible, awful person.
and the rest of the town is surprisingly cool with it.
“oh, he killed a whore to fool George Hearst? well, that's sad!”
for finally finding its stride, for being the compelling, great show that i was promised, only to ruin it all in a gross disappointment of a season/unintentional-series finale, Season Three of Deadwood earns a 4.0/10.

for being slow to develop but for developing eventually, for being a show about a magnificent bastard who, in the end, turns out to be just a really, really shitty person and for making you feel bad that you ever liked them in the first place, for poisoning a great character with unconcionability in an effort, [i suspect] to make some kind of point about morality over pleasing fans, Deadwood the series as a whole earns a 4.6/10.

//[ab irato ad astra]

September 2017

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