The town of Deadwood, South Dakota in the weeks following the Custer massacre is a lawless sinkhole of crime and corruption. Into this uncivilized outpost ride a disillusioned and bitter ex-lawman, Wild Bill Hickok, and Seth Bullock, a man hoping to find a new start for himself. Both men find themselves quickly on opposite sides of the legal and moral fence from Al Swearengen, saloon owner, hotel operator, and incipient boss of Deadwood. The lives of these three intertwine with many others, the high-minded and the low-lifes who populate Deadwood in 1876.
Though i never considered myself a western fan, i realize i've seen a good many, from the Anthony Mann masterpieces, to Leone's revolutionary films, to more recent flicks like Unforgiven. But none has moved me like Deadwood. While the series did have some ups and downs (like life itself), it is truly enchanting. The season finale alone is one of the most moving things i've seen on TV, and having rewatched it many times (the joy of tivo) i still find myself driven to tears. The dialog is fantastic, bordering on Shakespearean at times as others have pointed out. Its a shame that so many seem to be bothered by the language, perhaps i am just overly jaded. Remember though that profanity at that time was predominantly based on religion (or rather defiance of such). These days of course, hellfire and tarnation don't have quite the same effect. If the dialog were more "period", i imagine it would be like watching yosemite sam cast as swearengen (heaven forbid). In their translations of Kurasawa movies, Critereon has faced the same issues, and i agree with their and David Milch's choice. Stay true to the meaning and feeling, more than the literal. Especially with profanity, this is key. Profanity's entire purpose is to offend, and if it becomes through age or paradigm shift inoffensive, it loses all meaning and effectiveness. It helps bring us into the world of deadwood, and better understand and relate to the characters who live there. Which, IMHO, is a wondrous thing to experience.
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