Thursday, September 16, 2010

DEADWOOD***SPOILER ALERT***if you haven't seen the first series

Go back with me now to the days of yesterday when Deadwood was airing.

We have finally watched Season One of Deadwood. Don't know why it took us so long. Yes, I do--it is very hard for me to understand some of the dialogue. Between the Shakesperean lilt, the swearing and the whispery delivery of some of the actors, I am hard pressed.

When Al Swearengen smothers Reverend Smith in the final episode of the first season, did you see it as partially an act of humanity or strictly a murder?

He certainly has little use for anyone with an infirmity or anyone who threatens his business place, but it seemed more like an act of grace than one of pure evil. What did you think? Or is it both?

Do you even remember it?

Phil and I sometimes disagree on issues of motive. He sees the world more darkly and yet isn 't depressed by it. I see the world in shades of gray and yet that gray bogs me down.

21 comments:

David Cranmer said...

I saw it as pure evil.

Chris said...

I vaguely remember it (it's been quite a while since I watched it) but I found Al to be one of the most compelling characters in the entire series, if only for those swings between evil (?) and compassion (?) that would come up now and again. I'm overdue to re-watch that series.

J. Kingston Pierce said...

It was decidedly an act of humanity and pity. I remember the scene very well, having watched that episode several times already. Deadwood ranks as one of my favorite TV series ever.

Cheers,
Jeff

George said...

I like the ambiguity of DEADWOOD. The shades of gray make the characters and the plot compelling.

Charlieopera said...

The greatest crime in HBO/television/cinema history was Milch's abandoning this project (after HBO abandoned it). He'd promised a movie or two afterward and came up with that lame crap John from Cincinnati (which actually wasn't so bad once I was distanced enough from Deadwood). I went back and read the book by Pete Dexter (and apparently he wasn't happy with the HBO project) and they were kind of distant (book to movie), but both excellent. I still miss Deadwood.

Richard S. Wheeler said...

A friend lent me some DVDs so I could view the series. I managed two or three episodes and realized not only was there not one character to care about, but the whole thing was depressing. Why bother? The producer claimed it was historically accurate, and that was a half truth, like saying the dark side of the moon is the only moon-truth.

Eric Beetner said...

Welcome, Patti, to possibly my favorite show of all time. It is because of the density of the dialogue that I find it one of the most re-watchable shows too.

I saw Al's act as compassionate in its way. Nothing Al does is without a hint of selfishness but his humanity really began to blossom with that end-of-season episode and really continues into season 2.
I envy you getting to experience it for the first time. In true HBO fashion, watch out for an influx of too many characters/story lines in season 3 and then an all-too-abrupt ending to the whole thing.

Evan Lewis said...

I'd say the motive was pity, but the bastard still enjoyed it.

Paul D. Brazill said...

I think Evan's right. Al was brilliant entertaining and brilliantly played.

It was a cracking series, although I only saw seasons one and two and that was by happy aident. If you're a dialogue fan, then that is the series for you.

Great swearing too, which is big and is clever.

Anonymous said...

From what I remember (it's been a while) I think Evan nailed it.

Great show, though my wife is on Richard Wheeler's side.

This was the first show I remember Garret Dillahunt playing a total sociopath, a role he's done (with variations) many times since, as in Life, for one.

Loved Robin Weigert as Jane.

Jeff M.

Dana King said...

It's a tossup for me which was my favorite TV show of all time: DEADWOOD or THE WIRE. The Beloved Spouse and I watch DEADWOOD about once a year, all the way through.

I remember this scene well; it's a favorite. This is Al's idea of compassion. Remember, he speaks earlier of his brother suffering much as the reverend is suffering, and he knows what's to come. I think he even says "Sleep well, my brother," as he's killing him.

Al Swearengen was probably the biggest bastard in the history of television, but Milch and McShane were also able to show the scars from his childhood. Never as excuses, but as shaping influences.

I read Pete Dexter's book earlier this year. It's brilliant, though completely different.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Isn't it great when a character has this much complexity and ambiguity.
I think the Reverend was hurting his business and he also did not like "weak" people. But he saw him as possibly having a drawn out death and what was the point. So pity yes. You all know Al better than we do yet, so I reserve a final opinion.
It took us three times to get past the idea there were no likable characters. This time I have found some to like, some to hate and some to find interesting. Jane is mesmerizing. The richness she brings to that part is amazing.

Richard R. said...

there goes any mystery about the ending of that season / episode... ya gotta post a spoiler warning, Patti. Please.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Sorry, Rick. It's not the most important part of the plot, just one element. And I assumed since the series was many years old now, everyone but me had seen it. But I will think about it more next time.
I should have posted a spoiler alert at the top of the post and will do so from now on.

Richard R. said...

it wasn't a criticism, just a suggestion. I'll probably never watch the thing anyway, but someone might. Thanks.

pattinase (abbott) said...

No, it was a good reminder. We sometimes forget we might be spoiling a plot. Since I never remember what I see or hear, it's not a problem for me but my husband always does.

Chris said...

What defines a "likable" character? Like in The Wire, there are plenty of characters to "like" regardless of what side of the law they're on. What's great is there isn't any single one where the writers are all but putting a neon sign on that says, "This is the hero! This is the character you are supposed to pull for! This is the character that won't challenge any of your preconceived notions on what a character should be in order to be cheered along!"

Jane was fantastic. Charley. Wild Bill. The Doctor. Sol Star and Trixie. Just great characters, all of them.

pattinase (abbott) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pattinase (abbott) said...

But it took us a while to find that. At first glance, DEADWOOD was all bottom feeders. And after watching the supplementary information DVD, we began to understand the reason for language, the swagger. It's about learning the lay of the land, I guess.
For instance, almost every woman in Deadwood was a hooker. I was waiting for the pillars of the town to come forward for a good three episodes. Then I understood, there were no pillars and even no real town. It had to be made

Charles Gramlich said...

It is really hard for me to get past all the swearing. Not because swearing me bothers me per se, but because it just constantly throws me out of my suspension of disbelief.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

I thought Al was being very compassionate and didn't see him getting any enjoyment from the act. It seemed to sicken him. At the same time he was pragmatic enough to know that removing the preacher would remove a thorn in his side. I loved the show and wish it had a proper finish.