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. It’s many fans hope this will now give 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 third season in 2006. There were initial plans to conclude the story arcs and unfinished plotlines with two tv films. Nothing came of it until more recently. The new tv film will be set ten years after that third season concluded. Most of the original cast return apart from a few actors who are sadly no longer with us.
Setting The Stage
Deadwood featured an outstanding ensemble cast but it’s two biggest stars were undoubtedly Ian McShane and Timothy Olyphant. The show was set in Deadwood, South Dakota, and told the story of it’s colourful inhabitants during the gold rush. It showed how 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). 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. As time passes they forge 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 the dirtiest of mouths, but he wasn’t alone. 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.
Returning To Deadwood
The new tv movie will air in the US on HBO on May 31st, and for viewers in the UK Sky Atlantic will show it not long after that. Fans hope that that it wraps up all the loose ends and allows them to draw a line under the show finally. I suspect also that many will hope that the (saloon) doors are not closed tightly shut to rule out another return in the future.