After having finished “True Blood” for now (happily not for real – a third and fourth season will definitely follow), me and my girlfriend just started watching a new series that I have on my list of must-view series for quite some time now: Deadwood. I seem to be getting to like HBO productions a lot. After Six Feet Under and True Blood this is my third HBO produced series – and I still have The Sopranos on my must-view list as well.
Actually I did not really know what exactly to expect, when watching the first episode, and just now, after watching it, I am still a bit puzzled abut it (but positively curious about the next bunch of episodes).
Deadwood is a western drama that is set in the village of Deadwood, which actually is a real city in South Dakota, now. Even more interestingly, Deadwood is mainly based on real historical events. The series starts in 1876, when Deadwood was nothing more but a road with provisional housings (most of them are rather tenths). It attracted all kind of people as it was said to be near major gold deposits. Most of the people are criminals as Deadwood is also known to be a place with no laws, as it is in an area, that at that time is not under US juristrisction, but in the hands of the Native Americans.
The first episode starts with showing a (as it seems) frustrated sheriff, Seth Bullock, who doesn’t really possess any power, but rather does what the people force him to (because otherwise they’d do it themselves). After a forced execution, he leaves the town for Deadwood with a friend, Sol Star. They plan to open a hardware store there. But as it seems, Deadwood isn’t the paradise everyone expects. Al Swearengen, owner of the only saloon and brothel, seems to be the unofficial head of the village. He is a rather organized criminal and murder who is trying to get rich by all kind of means. In the first episode we see how he is mingling in all kind of faulty businesses.
Unfortunately at the same time a famous gunslinger, Wild Bill Hickok, arrives in Deadwood – also a former sheriff, and as it seems, quite a hero. He and Bullock seem to become friends – not to the liking of Swearengen, who’d rather like the place to be free of moral men.
My impression and presumption
The first episode somehow leaves one pretty puzzled. You are introduced to the setting – the growing village, as well as to the people. You also get to know the first little relationships between some of the people and might get a hunch of how it might develop. Of course there’s going to be some kind of trouble between Swearengen and one, or maybe also both of the former sheriffs. While Hickok stays at a hotel, whose owner is a good friend of Swearengen, Bullock rented a place owned by Swearengen to set up his tenth, which is not only used by them to live in, but also is the hardware store. Swearengen should also be careful about his prostitutes – one of them already shot a man, because he was beating her. Swearengen nearly killed her for doing that. Now she got herself a new gun, and she seems to be pretty angry at Swearengen.
Also the two sheriffs, though fighting for the same cause, may become enemies, as they seem to be quite competitive. And of course the city is going to be built up, problems of all kinds may occur – I am pretty sure that we’ll actually get to see an Native American – American settlers fight, maybe also the American army being involved and claiming the land and Deadwood. I don’t know – I’ll hope to be a little more enlightened after the next bunch of episodes. As said, this first episode was rather like setting up a chess board. You know the stones, you know their power and you know where they stand, but nothing more than that.
Deadwood Season 1 – Promotional Trailer
A little on the background of the series
What I did find out was, that a lot of the story seems to be in fact based on true historical fact. This starts with the city, and the places, like “The Gem” (the saloon) and is continued with the characters, such as Bullock, Hickok, Star, Swearengen and many more. Some of the actors have unbelievable resemblance with the original character, especially Hickok seems to be acting himself on the series. It seems like also the character of the persons is quite identical (I didn’t want to read to much on Wiki, not to spoil the series). In fact this basement on historical fact makes the series even more interesting to me.
As I have read it also got some quite bad critics, especially concerning brutality towards women, as well as the explicit language (I’ve read that the first episode has “fuck(ing)” in it 43 times – there’s also a great youtube clip on that one – the first hit, when you search for Deadwood at youtube 😉 ). HBO responds to this by stating that they base this on historical fact, and didn’t want to change the truth into some romantic western.
Facts on the series
As mentioned, this again is an HBO production. It was aired in three seasons containing 12 episodes each. They where aired between 2004-2006 in USA. Each episode is approx. an hour long. Unfortunately after the third season the production was terminated, as the producers where busy producing new series. A series of TV movies was promised, but never produced, and in 2008 HBO omitted that there was hardly any chance that these movies where ever to be produced. So the series terminates without any proper ending 😦
Still it seems to be quite worth seeing – Deadwood has a huge fan base. There’s also a German synchronization. If I am informed correctly, it’s only been released on Premiere. Anyway, if you’d watch it in original tone (as I love to do) be warned. It’s quite hard to understand, due to all these different accents and slangs, and all that nasty swearing.