Dead Good

It's been a pitiful summer for reading. I did Raymond Chandler's 400-page The Long Goodbye inside a week in July and promptly sat on my laurels. I've managed sixty pages of Our Man From Havana since. Pathetic!

I've made up for it with whole seasons of Rome, Twin Peaks, Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex, and The Sopranos. (Cleopatra is a junkie, James is an idiot, Togusa has a stand alone Don Johnson complex and Vito will survive - in that order). I'm one episode from the end of the first season of Deadwood and I can't believe I waited til it got cancelled to try it.

It’s the story of a town in the Black Hills, South Dakota: from its initial settlement due to gold rush (when most businesses still operated out of tents), through the process of annexation, to the fire that raized the town to the ground four years later. The meat of the drama is in the conflict between the ruthless entrepreneurs that have run the town since Day One and those with a more developed sense of justice and social order. Whose code of conduct will prevail? Unlike Rome, where the fascination lies in a society with rules very different to our own, in Deadwood there are no rules... yet.

The first thing I noticed about the ensemble cast is that everyone was speaking French. That’ll teach me to download things instead of paying for them. Seth Bullock has a crazy moustache in any language, yet not as crazy as his real-life counterpart! Many of the events and characters in the series are based on historical fact (a smallpox outbreak, Wild Bill Hickok); some are tweaked for dramatic effect (Bullock’s family situation, Calamity Jane); and others are completely fictional (what happens to Reverend Smith).

I got further on my second attempt and met Al Swearingen - an appropriate name for someone whose every fifth word seems to be "cocksucker". There are apparently 831 uses of the word "fuck" in the first season – 1.23 per minute on average!

Swearingen steals every scene. This is a real revelation because the British actor who plays him made his name here in the Eighties in a middle-of-the-road private detective show called Lovejoy. America got Magnum P.I. and we got an antiques dealer with a mullet tracking down missing vases for rich folk. So I never credited Ian McShane with much talent and I certainly didn’t think I’d ever have withdrawal symptoms when he wasn’t on screen.

Deadwood won seven Emmys in its first two years and McShane's performance got a Golden Globe last year. If you like your television bland then avoid Deadwood at all costs.


Blogger The Paranoid Mod said...

Jesus. Look at that 'tache. How did he eat?


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