Deadwood : The Complete Third Season (DVD)

There were still more than a couple of bullets left in its chamber but alas, HBO – or rather, HBO’s CEO, Chris Albrecht, who was recently stood down because of his bouts with alcohol; accusations that he was a chick-beater, and also well, just plain unruly; you gotta wonder whether his decision to end this show was made mid-bong one night? – Overlooked that fact and buried one of the best shows on television…. Alive.


Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Molly Parker, Jim Beaver, Brad Dourif, John Hawkes, Powers Boothe, W. Earl Brown, Kim Dickens

There were still more than a couple of bullets left in its chamber but alas, HBO – or rather, HBO’s CEO, Chris Albrecht, who was recently stood down because of his bouts with alcohol; accusations that he was a chick-beater, and also well, just plain unruly; you gotta wonder whether his decision to end this show was made mid-bong one night? – Overlooked that fact and buried one of the best shows on television…. Alive.

Not only did “Deadwood” single-handedly reinvent the western overnight – do a google and see just how many feature-length westerns are now in the works as a result – but also it reaffirmed a lot of folks’ faith in quality TV drama. Sure, its mouth needed a good soapin’, but that was part of its charm.

The series, created by David Milch, has been TVs feral cat – unpredictable, wild, and always totally engaging. Revolving around the people of an outlawed Dakota-district town in the 1870s, the show chartered Deadwood’s augmentation from provisional camp to town, incorporating themes ranging from the development of communities to western free enterprise. Though many of the characters are illusory, there’s just as many real-life figures represented in the series- notably bar-owner Al Swearengen and reluctant sheriff, Seth Bullock; not surprisingly, considering their positions, the duo that are most at odds.

Season 3 is no less compelling, with the Wild West getting an almighty shake-up with the arrival of real-life figure, George Hearst (a wealthy American businessman, Senator and father of newspaperman William Randolph Hearst). Played with a slightly underlying psychosis by Major Dad himself, Gerard McRaney, the character takes over from Al Swearengen (Ian McShane) as the town’s ‘big bad’ this season – which leads to the former lead nasty being not only squished down to size, but having to team up – very unlikely considering their run-ins in the first couple of series’ – sheriff Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant).

Known as “Boy-The-Earth-Talks-To” due to his skill and obsession with finding gold, Hearst’s main goal in Deadwood is to control it – and if the townsfolk don’t simply hand him the keys he’ll force himself on them as leader. Once it becomes clear that Swearengen, Bullock and many of the other locals aren’t going to go down without a fight, Hearst calls for back up – resulting in all-out war for the camp.

Hearst’s nutty behaviour (the episode where he cut’s off Swearengen’s finger is grand!) isn’t the only reason (duh!) to watch the show this season; there are oodles of other compelling plotlines interwoven into that big fat one. Alma opens the town’s first bank; Wyatt and Morgan Earp come to town, Steve is paralysed after being kicked in the head by a horse, and – drum roll! – ‘Calamity’ Jane and Joanie the madam engage in a – heck, another drum roll! – Lesbian relationship! Saucy, Saucy!

God this show will be missed. It was do damn good. Heck, f%&^in$ good! (It is “Deadwood” we’re talking about, after all). Rumours persist that a couple of “Deadwood” telemovies are in the works but considering the cast have gone and all got themselves tied up in other jobs… it doesn’t sound like they’ll be happening too soon, if at all.

The extras component of the DVD is shooting nothing but blanks. Extras on the Region 1 version Commentary on four of the episodes (by creator David Milch, executive producer Gregg Fienberg, writer Mark Tinker, and cast members Robin Weigert, W. Earl Browl, Jim Beaver, and Sean Bridges); a featurette on the dynamic between Bullock and Swearengen, and finally, a really interesting historical piece on the era that the show is set in – fixing on things like the elections of the time, the mining trade and how education was introduced. None of those special features are included on the local release.

R.I.P “Deadwood”.

Rating :
Reviewer : Clint Morris