Deadwood (TV series)

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Genre WesternDrama
Created by David Milch
Starring Timothy Olyphant
Ian McShane
Molly Parker
John Hawkes
Jim Beaver
Brad Dourif
Paula Malcomson
William Sanderson
Kim Dickens
Robin Weigert
Dayton Callie
W. Earl Brown
Bree Seanna Wall
Powers Boothe
Keith Carradine
Country of origin  United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 36 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) David Milch
Gregg Fienberg
Mark Tinker
Running time approx. 55 min.
Original channel HBO
Original run 21 March 200427 August 2006
External links
Official website

Deadwood was an American westerndrama television series created, produced and almost entirely written by David Milch.[1][2] The series aired on the premium cable network HBO from 21 March 2004 to 27 August 2006, spanning three 12-episode seasons. Set in the 1870s in Deadwood, South Dakota, the show is set before and after the area's annexation by the Dakota Territory. The series charts Deadwood's growth from camp to town, incorporating themes ranging from the formation of communities to western capitalism. The show features a large ensemble cast, and many historical figures—such as Seth Bullock, Al Swearengen, Wild Bill Hickok, Sol Star, Calamity Jane, Wyatt Earp, E. B. Farnum, Charlie Utter, and George Hearst—appear as characters on the show. The plotlines involving these characters include historical truths as well as substantial fictional elements. Some of the characters are fully fictional, although they may have been based on actual persons. Deadwood received wide critical acclaim [3], won eight Emmy Awards (in 28 nominations) and one Golden Globe. It consistently drew high ratings[citation needed].

Although there were initial plans to conclude the series with two special TV movies, the plans have not come to fruition. Several of the series' stars have since commented that the series is now unlikely to return. While HBO had repeatedly asserted that the two movies could still be made,[4] it noted in July 2008 that the possibility of the two TV movies being made was very slim.[5]


[edit] Cast and characters

Actor Character Based On Profession in the Deadwood TV Series
Timothy Olyphant Seth Bullock Seth Bullock Sheriff/Co-owner of Star & Bullock Hardware.
Ian McShane Al Swearengen Al Swearengen Businessman/Owner of The Gem Saloon.
Molly Parker Alma Garret Ellsworth Unknown/No Basis Widow of claim seeker, later married to prospector Whitney Ellsworth.
Jim Beaver Whitney Ellsworth No Basis Prospector/husband to Alma Garret.
Powers Boothe Cy Tolliver Tom Miller Owner of rival saloon, The Bella Union.
John Hawkes Sol Star Sol Star Co-owner of Star & Bullock Hardware.
Paula Malcomson Trixie Unknown/No Basis Based on any number of "Tricksies" who were former prostitutes at The Gem Saloon.[6]
William Sanderson E. B. Farnum E. B. Farnum Innkeeper of The Grand Central Hotel; Mayor.
Kim Dickens Joanie Stubbs Unknown/No Basis Former hostess of The Bella Union/Co-proprietoress of brothel, The Chez Amis. There were several madams in the camp, including Dora Dufran and Mollie Johnson, however the character of Joanie Stubbs does not closely follow what is known about these madams. [1]
Ricky Jay Eddie Sawyer Unknown Card sharp employed at The Bella Union. Part of its inner circle.
Garret Dillahunt Francis Wolcott L.D. Kellogg Psychopathic geologist and serial killer who worked for George Hearst.
Robin Weigert Calamity Jane Calamity Jane Follower of Wild Bill Hickok/frontierswoman/scout.
Dayton Callie Charlie Utter Charlie Utter Owner of freight business/traveling companion of Wild Bill Hickok/deputy to Sheriff Bullock.
Brad Dourif Doc Cochran Lyman F. Babcock The physician of the camp.
Anna Gunn Martha Bullock Martha Bullock Wife of Seth, mother of the late William. School teacher in Deadwood.
Jeffrey Jones A. W. Merrick A. W. Merrick Editor of camp's press, The Deadwood Pioneer.
Pavel Lychnikoff Blazanov Unknown/No Basis Operator of Deadwood's telegraph service.
W. Earl Brown Dan Dority Dan Doherty Henchman to Al Swearengen at the Gem. Part of Al's inner circle.
Titus Welliver Silas Adams Unknown/No Basis Negotiator for Swearengen. Part of Al's inner circle.
Sean Bridgers Johnny Burns Johnny Burns Gem Saloon worker/henchman. Part of Al's inner circle.
Larry Cedar Leon Unknown/No Basis Worker for Cy Tolliver at The Bella Union.
Peter Jason Con Stapleton Con Stapleton Worker for Cy Tolliver at The Bella Union.
Keith Carradine Wild Bill Hickok Wild Bill Hickok Famed gunslinger of the Old West.
Geri Jewell Jewel Unknown/No Basis Disabled cleaning woman at the Gem.
Keone Young Mr Wu Tong leaders Representative for the Chinese population of the camp; owns a pig pen and laundry.
Bree Seanna Wall Sofia Metz No Basis Adopted daughter of Alma Garret; sole survivor of an attack on her family.
Garret Dillahunt Jack McCall Jack McCall Unemployed, classless camp member, murderer of Wild Bill Hickok.
Richard Gant Hostetler Unknown/No Basis Literate black livery owner.
Josh Eriksson William Bullock Loosely based on Douglas Kislingbury Stepson of Seth Bullock; biological son of Robert (Seth's brother) and Martha Bullock.
Sarah Paulson Miss Isringhausen Unknown/No Basis Tutor to Sofia Metz/ Pinkerton agent.
Franklyn Ajaye Samuel Fields Samuel Fields Self-proclaimed Union Army General (the Nigger General); keeper of horses.
Ray McKinnon Reverend Smith Henry Weston Smith Minister of Deadwood.
Alice Krige Maddie Unknown/No Basis Madam of the Chez Amis.
Zach Grenier Andy Cramed Andy Cramed Gambler who brought smallpox to Deadwood, later minister of the camp.
Leon Rippy Tom Nuttall Billy Nuttall Owner of Nuttall's #10 Saloon.
Stephen Tobolowsky Hugo Jarry Hugh McCaffrey Commissioner for Lawrence County, Dakota Territory.
Ralph Richeson Pete Richardson Unknown/No Basis "Special" cook at the Grand Central.
Michael Harney Steve Fields Unknown/No Basis One of numerous camp drunks. Takes over livery stable on Hostetler's disappearance.
Gerald McRaney George Hearst George Hearst Successful California businessman and prospector.
Gill Gayle The Huckster Soapy Smith Con man, known for his prize soap sell swindle.
Gale Harold Wyatt Earp Wyatt Earp Legendary lawman from Dodge City, Kansas, works a timber lease.
Brian Cox Jack Langrishe Jack Langrishe Flamboyant stage promoter.
Alan Graf Captain Joe Turner Unknown/No Basis Enforcer and bodyguard of George Hearst.
Cleo King Aunt Lou Lucretia Marchbanks George Hearst's personal cook.
Brent Sexton Harry Manning John J. Manning Bartender at the Number 10 Saloon; running for sheriff.
Austin Nichols Morgan Earp Morgan Earp Brother of Wyatt Earp, works a timber lease.
Jennifer Lutheran Jen Unknown/No Basis Gem Saloon prostitute and friend of Johnny Burns.

[edit] Themes

Milch has pointed out repeatedly in interviews that the intent of the show was to study the way that civilization comes together from chaos. Initially, he intended to study this within Roman civilization, but HBO's Rome series (then in production) motivated him to look into the Deadwood community. The need to make the narrative tie to Milch's vision of society may account for why historical divergence occurs at times.

Although the series touches on a variety of issues including race, prostitution, misogyny, violence, politics, and immigration, the crux of most of the major storylines center on this issue of bringing order from chaos. The series can be conceptually framed by the major plot points that govern the changing status of the city:

  • Law in Deadwood: In the first season, the major focus of the story is on the rivalry between Swearengen and Bullock. Swearengen governs the city like a warlord and Bullock is the only significant opposing voice. By the end of the season, a compromise is brought in where law stands in the town, albeit with concessions.
  • Politics in Deadwood: Toward the end of the first season and governing the second and third seasons, the status of Deadwood within the United States becomes the most critical issue. A variety of business and political forces repeatedly push for either sovereignty or absorption into other territories or towns. The show takes great pains to show the corruption of the political interests and their ability to employ violence that matches Swearengen's.
  • Business in Deadwood: Initially foreshadowed by Cy Tolliver's arrival in Deadwood in the first season, business interests from beyond are studied at length. As with politics, the show juxtaposes Swearengen's violence with that of Tolliver and George Hearst. Whereas Swearengen is brutal overtly, Hearst masks his involvement in attacks and violence through the series.
  • Architecture in Deadwood: The buildings progress from crude walled tents at the outset of the first season to more elaborate buildings by the second season, with key ones getting window glass.
  • Power in the United States: In short, the series accurately depicts the role of entrepreneurial vice lords in generating political communities. Swearengen is shown dispensing patronage like a typical "political machine boss" which is not so far-fetched as saloons were used to debate politics, hold meetings and trials etc. Infamous councilmen in Chicago's Levee District were similarly saloon owners, gang bosses, and pimps. Gangs could be counted on to "get out the vote" of whichever immigrant community the boss was plugged into.
  • The changing nature of the American West The series follows the dying days of the 'Wild' West, as the rugged individualism that drove people like Seth Bullock to set up in the camp is undone and replaced by corporate capitalism, bigger government and the corruption inherent in either structure. Eventually, the camp is changed entirely, with individual prospectors moved out and all gold mining consolidated into George Hearst's holdings.

[edit] Notable plot points

[edit] Season 1 (2004)

Deadwood Season 1 DVD cover
  • 1876
    • Seth Bullock leaves his Montana sheriff job to establish a hardware business in Deadwood along with friend and business partner, Sol Star.
    • Characters met along the way include Al Swearengen owner of The Gem, a local brothel, Wild Bill Hickock, the infamous gunslinger of the west, Calamity Jane who is Hickok's accomplice and friend along with Charlie Utter, Amos Cochran the town doctor, E.B. Farnum the proprietor of The Grand Central Hotel and A. W. Merrick, the town's personal press reporter.
    • Brom Garret, a businessman from New York City is deceived in a confidence game (involving a gold claim) with Swearengen and Farnum.
    • The Metz family, residents of Deadwood, quickly leave the town for their native Minnesota. On the road, they are all murdered and scalped except for Sofia Metz. Swearengen claims the murders were committed by "dirt worshippers," (alluding to Native Americans), though they were actually perpetrated by road agents under his own employ.
    • Bullock and Star ask for a piece of property owned by Swearengen. Swearengen gives them a hard time but Bullock puts Star in charge of negotiating and the deal ends semi-successfully.
    • Cy Tolliver and his entourage purchase an abandoned hotel across from The Gem. When renovations are complete, Swearengen learns that he will gain competition. The Bella Union, a more luxurious brothel, is established shortly thereafter, although many patrons remain loyal to Swearengen.
    • Garret soon learns that his gold claim is worthless and demands Swearengen reimburse his money. Swearengen asks his henchman, Dan Dority, to "Make it look like an accident". Garret is thrown off a cliff and his body is brought back to Deadwood — only for Dority to discover that the claim is actually a rich one after all.
    • Garret's widow, Alma Garret, asks Wild Bill Hickok for help regarding her gold claim and the renewed interest from Swearengen's henchmen. Hickock sizes up Swearengen, and asks Bullock to help Garret with her claim. Bullock agrees.
    • During a poker game, Wild Bill Hickok is shot in Tom Nuttall's #10 Saloon by Jack McCall.
    • Jack McCall is put on trial for Hickok's murder. Swearengen leans on the acting magistrate, suggesting that McCall must be acquitted to avoid scrutiny from Washington, DC. The judge cuts the trial short and the jury acquits McCall, who leaves town immediately after the verdict (also at Swearengen's suggestion).
    • Calamity Jane disappears on a drinking binge, following Hickok's murder, so Alma Garret takes custody of Sofia Metz.
    • Bullock pursues McCall, determined to bring him to justice. On the way, he inadvertently violates an Indian burial ground, resulting in an attack by a Lakota Indian. In the ensuing fight, Bullock beats the Lakota to death. Bullock and Charlie Utter later find McCall hiding at a boarding house and take him to Yankton for trial.
    • Andy Cramed, a con man and card shark arrives in Deadwood to start a scam. Instead he falls ill with smallpox at the Bella Union, and Tolliver, (with whom Cramed has had previous dealings) removes him and abandons him in the woods to die. He is found by an inebriated Calamity Jane who comforts him.
    • The smallpox outbreak spreads in Deadwood, creating an urgent need for vaccines. The afflicted are segregated from the main camp, housed in tents. Cramed recovers, and Calamity Jane aids Doctor Cochran in caring for the sick.
    • A pair of teenage con artists, Flora and Miles Anderson, arrive in Deadwood under the pretense of searching for their lost father, and looking for work. Miles finds a job as a sweeper in The Gem and Flora as a harlot at the Bella Union. After an attempt to rob the Bella Union, they are soon murdered by Stubbs and Tolliver, on his orders.
    • Charlie Utter establishes a postal and freight business in Deadwood, which includes deliveries to Cheyenne.
    • The senior members of the community form a municipal government to prepare for future annexation, as well to bribe the territorial legislature to ensure the future security of existing titles, claims and properties already resident in Deadwood.
    • Swearengen bribes local Magistrate Clagett to quash a murder warrant.
    • The ailing Reverend Smith becomes a regular guest at The Gem, which angers Swearengen. He quickly shoos Smith out.
    • Alma's father, Otis Russell, arrives with plans to secure Alma's new found wealth both to pay off his debts and fulfill his own greed.
    • The U.S. army arrives in Deadwood to celebration and a parade is quickly organised.
    • Bullock confronts a self-confident Otis Russell in The Bella Union. Russell threatens the future safety of his own daughter, should Bullock stand in the way of his acquiring the Garret gold claim, but is promptly beaten and ordered to leave the camp.
    • Bullock, still enraged, suggests to Dan Dority it would be in both his and his boss's best interest to have Otis Russell killed. He later comes to his senses, and has Mr. Russell hauled out of the camp with the departing U.S. Army convoy.
    • A dying Reverend Smith, seemingly from a brain tumor, is smothered to death by Al Swearengen.
    • Tolliver attempts to bribe General Crook to leave a garrison in Deadwood (no doubt to his own ends) but is indignantly refused.
    • Magistrate Clagett attempts to extort Swearengen further over the murder warrant. Swearengen's response is to hire Clagett's toll collector, Silas Adams, to murder him. Silas performs the deed and allies himself with Swearengen, becoming his agent.
    • As Sheriff Con Stapleton has been compromised by Cy Tolliver, Bullock volunteers to become the new sheriff as the cavalry ride out.

[edit] Season 2 (2005)

Deadwood Season 2 DVD cover
  • 1877
    • Alma Garret hires a tutor, Miss Alice Isringhausen, to teach young Sofia.
    • Swearengen publicly expresses his concerns regarding Bullock's abilities as sheriff, alluding that Bullock's focus is not on the job due to his affair with Alma Garret. The fight begins when Bullock throws Swearengen and himself over the Gem balcony and ends when Al is about to slit Bullock's throat, due to interference from Dan, stops after seeing Bullock's wife Martha and their son William arrive in camp.
    • Seth Bullock's wife and their son, arrive in Deadwood.
    • Bullock tells Alma Garret that with his wife's arrival in the camp, they must either leave camp or stop seeing one another. Garret understands, agreeing that it is better that they remain in town and only see one another for business purposes.
    • Calamity Jane resurfaces drunk and manages to support Bullock and Utter in persuading Swearengen to return Bullock's possessions. A truce is made when Swearengen returns Bullock's gun and badge.
    • Swearengen is diagnosed with kidney stones. In deteriorating health, he collapses in his office with the door locked. It is assumed by his concerned associates that he wants to be left alone, but as the days pass their concerns grow and they finally break into the office. Cochran then performs a draining procedure to help relieve Swearengen, which has some success, eventually passing the stones.
    • Joanie Stubbs opens her own brothel, The Chez Amis, with her newly arrived partner, Maddie.
    • Francis Wolcott, a geologist working for George Hearst, arrives in Deadwood and soon makes his presence felt at the Chez Amis, to the distress of Joanie Stubbs. Wolcott has paid for transportation of most of the prostitutes, in order to cater to his selective tastes.
    • Alma Garret discovers she is pregnant by Bullock. On learning the news, Trixie persuades Ellsworth to make a marriage proposal to Garret, and influences Garret to accept the proposal, to save her from the humiliation of being an unwed mother.
    • Alma Garret fires Miss Isringhausen. Isringhausen then goes to Silas Adams under the pretext of fearing for her life at the hands of the Widow Garret and they embark upon a relationship.
    • Samuel Fields, "The Nigger General", returns to camp (he had notionally been there before, "between seasons"). He tries to enlist Hostetler in his schemes. Bullock is forced to rescue him from an angry mob (headed by a roustabout named Steve).
    • Miss Isringhausen convinces Silas Adams to allow her to meet with Swearengen. At the meeting, she admits to being an agent of the Pinkertons and under the employ of Alma Garret's in-laws. Isringhausen had been instructed to frame Garret for charging Swearengen with the task of murdering her husband. Swearengen agrees to play along, but later reveals to Garret that he intends to blackmail Isringhausen, due to his hatred for the Pinkerton agency.
    • Cy Tolliver learns of Wolcott's sexual proclivities and baits him, resulting in Wolcott murdering two of Joanie Stubb's whores, Doris and Carrie. When Maddie attempts to extort money from him, Wolcott kills her too. Cy Tolliver takes care of the removal of the bodies and pardons Wolcott.
    • Hostetler catches a drunken Steve in the livery stable performing a sexual act on Bullock's horse in revenge for his treatment at Bullock's hand. With Fields' help and threats of violence, Hostetler coerces a confession of bestiality from Steve. The admission would be publicised should Steve make any trouble for either of the livery workers in the future.
    • Stubbs sends the remaining whores away so that they will not be murdered under Wolcott's wrath.
    • Stubbs confides in Charlie Utter regarding the murders, extracting a promise from Charlie that he never repeat the information. Enraged, Utter confronts Wolcott whilst in line for food at Farnum's hotel, pulling him into the street and assaulting him, without revealing the true reason for the attack.
    • Having come into possession of Hickock's last letter, Charlie leaves to deliver it to Hickock's wife. A now isolated Joanie Stubbs begins a friendship with Calamity Jane.
    • Hugo Jarry, a Yankton commissioner, tries to persuade Swearengen and Tolliver that Deadwood should become part of Dakota territory rather than Montana. He ends up siding with Swearengen.
    • Alma Garret, with the help of Sol Star, establishes a bank in the camp.
    • Wolcott's agent, Lee, burns the bodies of Chinese prostitutes who have died through malnourishment whilst in his remit. Mr. Wu is enraged and requests Swearengen's help to stop Lee. As Lee is employed by Wolcott, who in turn is employed by George Hearst, Swearengen refuses any help until after negotiations over the town's future have been resolved. Mr. Wu escapes house arrest at The Gem, but is stopped from exacting his revenge or being killed just in time, by Burns.
    • William Bullock is trampled by a horse that escapes during a failed neutering.
    • The camp is in vigil shortly after young William is injured. William dies hours after. The funeral is attended by many of Deadwood's citizens, and the service is conducted by former card shark Andy Cramed, who has returned to Deadwood an ordained minister.
    • George Hearst arrives in Deadwood and learns of the murders committed by Wolcott. He confronts Wolcott and fires him. Hearst purchases the Grand Central hotel from E. B. Farnum. The shamed Wolcott hangs himself.
    • Tolliver blackmails Hearst for 5% of every Gold Claim he has acquired in Deadwood. Tolliver claims to be in possession of a letter of confession, written by Wolcott, in which he stated that Hearst was aware of his murderous ways, but retained him in employment regardless.
    • Al Swearengen negotiates with George Hearst on behalf of Mr. Wu, and they agree that Wu can regain his status if his people prove to be better workers than the people employed by Lee, the "San Francisco cocksucker". Mr. Wu, along with Swearengen's henchman, plan vengeance in Deadwood's Chinatown. The operation is successful and Wu slits the throat of his rival, Lee.
    • Alma Garret and Ellsworth marry at a ceremony conducted by Andy Cramed at the Grand Central hotel.
    • With a great degree of dealing and double-dealing on behalf of Swearengen and Silas Adams, the official papers confirming Deadwood's annexation into Yankton territory are signed by Bullock and Swearengen with Hugo Jarry present.
    • Tolliver is stabbed by Andy Cramed outside the Bella Union.

[edit] Season 3 (2006)

Deadwood Season 3 DVD cover
  • 1877
    • Hearst begins to murder several of his own miners as they attempt to form a Union. One such murder takes place at The Gem.
    • Elections are to take place between Star and Farnum for Mayor, and Bullock and barman Harry Manning for Sheriff. Manning doesn't expect to win, but hopes it will gain him a reputation which he can use to start up the camp's first fire-fighting service. Tom Nuttall is keen to help him in this venture.
    • Angered that Hearst has had someone killed in the Gem, Al cancels the election debates in an attempt to reassert his position in the camp. To teach him a lesson and to force Al to help him buy Alma's claim, Hearst has Captain Turner restrain Al while he cuts off one of his fingers.
    • Hearst's cook Aunt Lou arrives.
    • Alma meets with Hearst to discuss buying her claim, despite Ellsworth's strong objections. Hearst becomes furious with Alma when she offers him only a part share in her claim.
    • Tolliver is recovering after being stabbed and is back on his feet. Hearst knows he is lying about having a letter from Wolcott but decides to employ Cy to help him deal with the members of the camp
    • Jack Langrishe, an actor who runs a theatre troupe, arrives in Deadwood. He is an old friend of Swearengen's and eventually buys the former Chez Amis from Joannie Stubbs on condition that he build a new school house for the camp's children.
    • Alma has an abortion by the doctor after her health takes a downturn and she and others decide it's better for all concerned.
    • After insulting Hearst publicly, Dan Dority is challenged to a fight by Captain Turner. Turner almost drowns Dan in a puddle but Dan eventually wins by ripping out Turner's left eye, thus gaining the upper hand, and then beating him to death with a makeshift club.
    • Alma is buying dope from Leon. While high, she attempts to seduce Ellsworth. Suspecting that Alma's return to drugs is due to her unhappiness at being married, he moves out of their house. They later agree to separate and Alma stops her dope usage again.
    • Hostetler and Samuel 'The Nigger General' Fields return to the camp to find that Steve has taken over the Livery. Bullock attempts to negotiate between them, eventually getting Hostetler to agree to sell the Livery to Steve. But Steve's continuing rants and slurs on Hostetler's race and honor drive him over the edge and he shoots himself.
    • Another miner is killed. Already angry from the Hostetler/Steve negotiation, Bullock arrests Hearst and drags him by the ear across the thoroughfare and puts him in jail overnight.
    • Leon confesses to Cy that he is selling dope to Alma. Cy takes this news to Hearst, but he is still angry from his encounter with Bullock and believes that if Tolliver had told him this good news before he might not have provoked the Sheriff. A furious Tolliver tells Leon to do nothing, but Leon has already told Alma he will not act as her dealer anymore. He is afraid of being implicated in her murder.
    • Hearst brings a large force of Pinkerton militia to the camp and encourages them to stir up trouble.
    • Wyatt and Morgan Earp come to town to work a timber claim only to leave on Bullock's advice after making trouble with the Pinkertons.
    • Swearengen puts together a meeting to decide what to do about Hearst. They are unable to decide on any direct action, other than to publish a letter from Bullock to the wife of one of the murdered miners, which subtly highlights Hearst's callousness. Hearst has Merrick beaten up for publishing it.
    • Cochran admits to Al that he has tuberculosis and will eventually die of it.
    • Jane and Joanie become involved in a lesbian relationship.
    • Aunt Lou's son Odell arrives to deliver news of a newly discovered claim to Hearst. Lou is terrified that Odell intends to con Hearst. Several days later, Hearst tells her that he was killed out on the road. Lou seems certain that Hearst is responsible.
    • Steve becomes paralyzed after being kicked in the head by a horse, leaving Samuel Fields to care for him and temporarily take charge of the Livery.
    • Alma is shot at in the street on Hearst's order. Swearengen takes her inside and orders Dan to kidnap Ellsworth. He guesses correctly that Hearst was attempting to provoke Ellsworth and then kill him (and as it turns out, Bullock as well if possible). Hearst sends his new Captain to negotiate with Swearengen, only for Al to kill him. The town unites as they protect Alma as she returns to work at the Bank.
    • Hearst has Ellsworth assassinated in his tent at Alma's mine.
    • Trixie shoots Hearst in revenge for Ellsworth's death, but fails to kill him.
    • Fearing for her life and that of Sofia, Alma sells her claim to Hearst to avoid further bloodshed.
    • Al murders Jen, one of his whores, despite Johnny's objections, in the hope of passing her corpse off as Trixie's in order to placate Hearst. He and Wu gather a militia together in case all out war takes place between him and Hearst.
    • Bullock receives discouraging news about election returns in his race for sheriff against Harry Manning. Hearst may have bribed people to vote against him elsewhere in the county.
    • Hearst believes that Al has killed Trixie and leaves Deadwood.
    • Hearst gives over control of his interests to Tolliver. Tolliver is enraged that Hearst is leaving him to clean up his mess as the camp is teetering on the brink of war between Hearst's men and Swearengen's. He takes his frustrations out on Leon by stabbing and killing him. He points a gun at Hearst from his balcony and wants to shoot him, but is unable to.

[edit] Season timeframe

  • Season 1: Mid 1876: Soon after Custer's Last Stand, the first season of Deadwood takes place six months after the founding of the camp. Most of those who live far and outside of the camp have dreams of living in Deadwood to get richer and have a gold claim; however, when they arrive, new citizens find that Deadwood is unlike its positive reputation. It is a lawless place where greed and corruption rule; and in order to make your fortune you have to make something of yourself.
  • Season 2: Early 1877: One year after the events that occurred previously in the camp of Deadwood, Seth Bullock has become the sheriff with Charlie Utter as his deputy, and what was once a lawless place has miraculously become orderly. The camp is progressing swimmingly with many inventions that later have become necessities, such as the telegraph and a bank. Former Bella Union hostess Joanie Stubbs has founded her own brothel called the Chez Amis. Both a well connected geologist and a government official have arrived at the camp, to the dismay of several residents. Al Swearengen is still known as the unofficial head of the camp. Seth Bullock's family have arrived in town, forcing him to break off his relationship with Alma Garret and balance out his time between co-owned hardware store, sheriff's duties, and family.
  • Season 3: Mid 1877: Six weeks after the events of the Second Season, the first steps of civilization and law begin to enter the town; as well as the interests of larger, more powerful entities — in particular Hearst and his mining company. Deadwood preps itself for its first elections as it enters the Dakota territory, with Seth Bullock vs. Harry Manning (sheriff) and Sol Star vs. E.B. Farnum (mayor).

[edit] Use of profanity

From its debut Deadwood has drawn attention for its use of extremely explicit, modern profanity, especially among the more coarse characters. It is a deliberate anachronism on the part of the creator with a twofold intent. As Milch has explained in several interviews and on the DVD commentary tracks, originally the characters were to use period slang and swear words. Such words, however, were based heavily on the era's deep religious roots and tended to be more blasphemous than scatological. Instead of being shockingly crude (in keeping with the tone of a frontier mining camp), the results sounded downright comical. As one commentator puts it "… if you put words like "goldarn" into the mouths of the characters on "Deadwood," they'd all wind up sounding like Yosemite Sam.".[7]

Instead, it was decided the show would use current profanity in order for the words to have the same impact on modern audiences as the blasphemous ones did back in the 1870s. In fact, in early episodes, the character of Mr. Wu seems to know only three words of English — the mangled name of one character ("Swedgin"), "San Francisco", and his favorite derogatory term for those he dislikes, "cocksucka".

The other intent in regards to the frequency of the swearing was to signal to the audience the lawlessness of the camp in much the same way that the original inhabitants used it to show they were very self-aware of the fact they were living outside the bounds of "civil society."

The issue of the authenticity of Deadwood's dialogue has even been alluded to in the show itself. Early in the second season, after E.B. Farnum has fleeced Mr. Wolcott of $10,000, Farnum tries to console the geologist:

EB: Some ancient Italian maxim fits our situation, whose particulars escape me.
Wolcott: Is the gist that I’m shit outta luck?
EB: Did they speak that way then?[2]

The word "fuck" was said 43 times in the first hour of the show.[8] It has also been reported that the series had a total count of 2980 "fucks" , and a cumulative FPM[9] of 1.56.[10]

[edit] Historical divergence

In addition to the use of fictional characters that interact with real life Deadwood inhabitants, some liberties have been taken in regard to known events of the time and great liberties taken when it comes to real personalities:

The Grand Central Hotel
The first hotel was built in Deadwood in 1879 by Seth Bullock and his partner after his hardware store, co-owned by Sol Starr, burned down — a three story, 64-room luxury hotel with steam heat and indoor bathrooms. The Bullock Hotel continues to operate to this day as a casino.
E. B. Farnum
was one of the first residents of Deadwood who was neither a miner nor prospector; he was the owner of a general store, not a hotel. Farnum was married with three children when he arrived in Deadwood. Unlike the portrayal in the series, he was very active in convincing the Dakota Territories to officially recognize the town and establish a nearby Army post, contrary to the series which had him oppose it under control of Al Swearengen.
Wild Bill Hickok's funeral
While the series suggests that the interment of Wild Bill was a sparsely attended affair, it was in fact quite the opposite. While Charlie Utter was indeed away when Hickok was killed, he returned and was the person who claimed the body. He placed an advertisement in the local paper and attended the funeral.
Gem Theater
Known in the series only as the "Gem Saloon", was not built until April 7, 1877, the second of Al Swearengen's establishments. In 1876 when Bullock and Star arrived, Swearengen ran a small establishment called the Cricket Saloon, which featured prize-less "prize fights" of bare-knuckle boxing among miners, as well as dog fights and cock fights.
Charlie Utter
Unlike the somewhat unkempt man, uncomfortable in urban settings of the show, the real life Utter was a man known for the pride he took in his appearance. He dressed in hand-tailored suits and kept his long blonde hair and mustache well-groomed at all times, keeping combs and mirrors with him constantly. He slept on high-quality blankets. Quite unusual for the time, he also took daily baths.
Seth Bullock
Seth was not married to his brother's widow, but to the woman who was reportedly his childhood sweetheart Martha, whom he married in Utah in 1874. Robert Bullock was not Seth's brother, but a cousin. He did not have a son at the time his wife came to join him, but a daughter, Margaret, who was still just a toddler. They subsequently had another daughter, Florence, and a son, Stanley. He deputized several people while sheriff, but never Charlie Utter. He was also from Amherstburg Ontario (Canada West at that time), and not Etobicoke as he is depicted in the series
Al Swearengen
Al was not originally from England, but Iowa. At the time the story opens in 1876, he was still operating the smaller Cricket Saloon. He was also still married to Nettie Swearengen, his first wife (but in keeping with his fictional counterpart, she divorced him on the grounds of mistreatment some time later).
Calamity Jane
Never referred to in the series by her nickname but always as "Jane Canary." Her birth name, "Martha Jane Cannary," is never used, but she is referred to by several characters as "Jane Canary" throughout the series, though by 1876 she herself had not used anything but her nickname for several years. The show does not make clear that she did not become friends with Hickok and Utter until after they had been in Deadwood for some time. After arriving in Deadwood, she stopped wearing men's clothing, and worked for Swearengen at the Gem Saloon.
Dora DuFran
Ms. DuFran did not operate a schoolhouse or similar for children but instead successfully ran several brothels in Deadwood, such as "Diddlin' Dora's" and "Belle Fourche" until marrying, and upon the death of her husband, leaving Deadwood for South Dakota.

[edit] Critical reception

Deadwood received almost universal praise from critics over the course of its three year run. According to, the third season had near universal acclaim with only one negative review coming from Newsday's Verne Gay. The praise generally centered on the strength of the writing and Milch's unique style of dialogue. The strength and depth of the casting was cited repeatedly by critics and further substantiated by numerous nominations for best casting in a dramatic series.

Although it did not receive the same level of attention at awards shows as other HBO programs (notably The Sopranos and Six Feet Under), the writers, costume, casting, and art direction were repeatedly nominated for major awards. Ian McShane was another major exception to the show's relative anonymity, winning a Golden Globe award in the second season.

In an interview with Paris Review in 2006, Laura Albert, of JT LeRoy fame, acknowledged being one of the show's writers.

[edit] Cancellation

On May 13, 2006, HBO confirmed it had opted not to pick up the options of the actors, which were set to expire on June 11, 2006. This meant that a fourth season with the current cast as it stands was unlikely, though HBO had stressed that the show was not cancelled and talks regarding its future were continuing. The chance of the show returning in its current state of cast and crew, however, was limited.

On June 5, 2006, HBO and creator David Milch agreed to make two two-hour telefilms in place of a fourth season, after Milch declined a short-order of 6 episodes. This was because in the show's original form, each season was only a few weeks in length, with each episode being one day, in the town of Deadwood. The final two-hour format would release these time restraints and allow for a broader narrative to finish off the series.[11]

In a January 13, 2007, interview, David Milch stated that he still intends to finish the 2 films, if possible. [12] On July 12, 2007, HBO executives admitted that producing the telefilms would be difficult and put the chances of their ever being made at "50-50."[13]

Actor Ian McShane claimed in an interview on October 1, 2007, that the show sets are due to be dismantled and that the movies would not be made.[14] Actors Jim Beaver and W. Earl Brown commented a day later that they considered the series to now be over.[15]

In the March 17, 2009 episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Ian McShane repeated that 'Deadwood is dead'.[16]

[edit] HBO broadcast history

[edit] DVD releases

All three seasons are available on DVD. HBO was responsible for the North American DVD releases, while Paramount Home Entertainment handled international distribution -- the latter being a byproduct of CBS Paramount Television (the successor-in-interest to the television unit of Paramount Pictures) handling worldwide TV distribution for the series (acquired from Rysher Entertainment). Season 3 was released on June 12, 2007. Deadwood: The Complete Series was released on December 9, 2008. This set includes a special bonus disc with new features, most prominently a focus on what would have occurred in the fourth season.

[edit] Music

[edit] Opening Credits

The Deadwood title song is a piece by David Schwartz.

[edit] Closing Credits

The closing credits music is listed below (source: AdventureWorld: Deadwood Music)

[edit] Season 1

[edit] Season 2

[edit] Season 3

[edit] References

  1. ^ "How do they make them shows on the teevee?". MetaFilter. Retrieved on 2008-07-26. 
  2. ^ Singer, Mark (2005-02-14). "The Misfit". The New Yorker. Retrieved on 2008-07-18. 
  3. ^ "Deadwood (HBO) - Reviews from Metacritic". MetaCritic. Retrieved on 2008-02-18. 
  4. ^ Chicago Tribune: The saga of 'Deadwood' takes another turn
  5. ^ 'Deadwood' Is Well and Truly Dead - HBO says chances are 'slim to none' for wrap-up movies - Zap2it
  6. ^ Deadwood HBO Series - Facts & Fiction
  7. ^ "Obscenity Rap". Retrieved on 2008-05-05. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ FPM: "Fucks" per minute
  10. ^ Kay, Jeff. "The Number of Fucks In Deadwood". West Virginia Surf Report. Retrieved on 2007. 
  11. ^ "'Deadwood' to return". Retrieved on 2008-05-05. 
  12. ^ "Milch: 'Deadwood' Movies Still Alive".;title;0. Retrieved on 2008-05-05. 
  13. ^ "Deadwood: Are the Two Wrap-up Movies Dead?". Retrieved on 2008-05-05. 
  14. ^ "Ian McShane Tells Cinematical HBO Has Scrapped Those 'Deadwood' Movies". Retrieved on 2008-05-05. 
  15. ^ "'Deadwood' regulars react to series' reported demise; Brown: 'I guess the horse is dead'". Retrieved on 2008-05-05. 
  16. ^

[edit] External links

[edit] See also

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