HBO‘s highly rated show Deadwood returns from the dead next month (May) for a one-off feature length tv movie, to pick up the loose ends leftover from it’s cancellation and hopefully give it’s characters, and fans, some well overdue closure.
First airing on the cable network HBO in 2004, Deadwood ran for three seasons incorporating 36 episodes. Despite gaining widespread critical acclaim and winning numerous awards, it was cancelled after the thrid season in 2006. There were initially plans afterwards to conclude the story arcs and unfinished plotlines with two tv films, but nothing came of it until more recently. The new tv film will be set ten years after that third season concluded, with most of the original cast returning apart from a few actors who are sadly no longer with us.
Deadwood featured an outstanding ensemble cast but it’s two biggest stars were undoubtedly Ian McShane playing Al Swearengen and Timothy Olyphant as Seth Bullock. The show was set in Deadwood, South Dakota, and told the story of it’s colourful inhabitants during the gold rush as the place turned from a camp into a town amid the lawless nature of those new frontiers. McShane’s character was the owner of the local saloon (also a whorehouse) whilst Olyphant’s was a righteous family man who through circumstance ends up being the town’s sheriff against his better judgement. The two clash violently, but as time passes they end up forging an uneasy alliance as a succession of evil villains and events threaten the Deadwood.
Deadwood broke much new ground in it’s original run, in particular the use of profanities and strong language in abundance. McShane’s Swearengen character had perhaps the dirtiest of mouths, but he wasn’t alone, yet I found that this went on to create some of the most lifelike and believable characters I’ve ever seen in a tv show. It made them feel more real and as such the bad language never felt like it was just there to shock. There was also frequent violent and sexual content, it was definitely not a show for the faint of heart. If you have never seen it before, I highly recommend you give it a go. The complete seasons 1-3 are readily available to buy on DVD and BluRay, see the links below.
The new tv movie is set to air in the US on HBO on May 31st, and for viewers in the UK Sky Atlantic plan to show it not long after that. Fans will hope that that it wraps up all the loose ends and allows them to draw a line under the show finally, but I suspect also that many will be hoping that the (saloon) doors are not closed tighly shut to rule out another return to Deadwood again in the future.