Two Christmases ago, Boy gave me the first season of Deadwood for Christmas. I had downloaded the first two episodes onto my old computer and enjoyed it so he figured the whole season would be enjoyable for me.
And when I got it, I was very excited . . . but then I didn’t watch it.
The thing about HBO shows is that they require a pretty decent time commitment. They are usually so well done and so addictive that you want to sit and watch them obsessively which then means that you are dedicating several days worth of time to them. This means that you really have to be in the mood to watch the episodes, so you can savour them, otherwise, sloughing through them ends up feeling a bit like a chore*.
So I put off watching it until this past week, when I ploughed through the entire violent, swearing, sex-filled thing in a couple of days. It is definitely not for everyone, but if you’ve got the stomach for it, it’s some good television.
If you haven’t seen the show, it’s about a little mining town in the wild west that is filled with a colourful assortment of characters. A lot of the people in the show are based on real historical figures with some liberties taken here and there.
In any case, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but if you had heard of it and were thinking of trying it, I thought it was worth drawing up a bit of a list of people to watch for, so if you do ever sit down to plough through it, you keep your eyes open to some great performances.
1) Brad Dourif as Doc Cochran – Brad Dourif often gets the short end of the stick character wise. He plays serial killers, the mentally insane and bad guys a lot so you don’t even expect that much from him aside from crazy and creepy. But seriously, he is one of the best parts of the show as the town doctor. The character he plays is kind of quiet, but he has his own strength and ballsy attitude. Also, he tends to see people for who they truly are which, in addition to making him interesting to watch, gives him some great humanity in a town full of violent thugs. “I’m as nimble as a forest creature!” Amazing.
2) Kim Dickens as Joanie Stubbs – Joanie is a hooker with a heart of gold. She works for Cy Toilliver (played by the awesomely named Powers Boothe) in the town’s upscale whorehouse. She’s smart, quick and funny and in spite of the fact that she’s in a town run by men, she seems to know how their games are played and does her best to take care of herself and her interests around them.
3) Jim Beaver as Whitney Ellsworth – Ellsworth is awesome because he’s a simple prospector who just goes about his life and is nice to everyone. They show that he likes to gamble a little bit, but it seems he mostly does it because it gives him the excuse to talk to Joanie. Got to appreciate a guy who knows a cool chick when he seems one.
4) W. Earl Brown as Dan Dority – Dan is basically Al Swearengen’s right hand/henchman. He can be a bit scary, but I also like that in spite of his killer instincts, he’s kind of sort spoken and he has his own moral code (no being mean to children and women). Plus, he seems less ridiculous than the rest of Al’s inner circle which is saying something.
Keith Carradine as Wild Bill Hickok – Probably the most well known figure of the first season, Keith Carradine does some great work as Wild Bill. He’s funny, he’s chivalrous and he’s got his own very clear sense of right and wrong. He doesn’t make it through the whole season, but when he leaves, his absence is definitely felt.
Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for this season. I’m looking forward to getting onto the second season soon . . . but not too soon . . . so I can see what happens next.
Have any of you watched the first season of Deadwood? What did you think?
*This probably explains why I haven’t got around to watching the later seasons of Six Feet Under yet. I watched the first three seasons in a couple of weeks and then I felt tired and couldn’t be bothered with the last few.