And never has cursing been done so brilliantly. Speaking as a San Francisco cocksucker! (Hat tip to chicating, who is in the middle of doing a Deadwood rewatch.)
I came to Deadwood via LJ. Someone asked me to beta a piece of fanfic, even though I hadn't seen the show yet. I may also have wanted to see it due to fact that my interest in Keith Carradine (going back when I loved him in few Alan Rudolph movies from the 80's) got rekindled by Wild West Tech.. (I kind of wish Discovery would pick that up and re-show them, but maybe it's not do-able since David's demise.)
Anywho, it was one of those situations where I watched the whole thing on DVD from Netflix in the course of a few months. I started it with Hubby on the usual caveat that if it didn't grab him in the first fifteen minutes, we'd stop. It definitely grabbed both of us.
It's almost the opposite of my Sopranos experience. Both HBO shows with lots of cursing, tons of characters and multiple story-lines, but whereas I never really liked most of the Sopranos characters, it's hard to think of a Deadwood character who was completely loathesome. Hearst comes the closest, which is appropriate given my opinion of Gerald McRaney's politics.
Maybe I just like David Milch's writing more than David Chase's OR there was just a different kind of alchemy between the writing and the casting. Whereas I thought all the Sopranos characters were well-acted (sometimes brilliantly), I was always aware of the acting. With Deadwood, it was like every character was really there saying those beautifully crafted words complete with such wonderfully creative profanity.
It's so good that Jeffrey Jones is now redeemed from being Mr. Rooney and William Sanderson is E.B. Farnsworth, rather than Larry. (Although to be honest, he already had major cred with me for Blade Runnder.)
On the other hand, I can't imagine watching Raising Hope because Garret Dillahunt was so convincingly creepy in his two distinct roles, especially as Wolcott.
Even horrible people like Cy Tolliver got their little moments of humanity. (Powers Booth is no longer Jim Jones.)
I will say the third season was a little weak. While it might have reflected the reality, having Hearst essentially win and having Swearingen diminished just wasn't as much fun. Also the fact that HBO pulled the plug and they never got to give all the strands a good wrap-up is just frustrating.
I pretty much love everybody, but some of the characters I still remember with a smile:
1. Ian McShane as Al Swearingen-So unbelievably charismatic while being the ultimate complete and utter bastard and yet, somehow managing to be a decent human being for Trixie and Jewell and a few others. It takes a special character and actor to pull off those "blow-job monologues." I watched all of Kings just to see Ian McShane. It was so obvious that they WANTED to do a similar character and just couldn't do it on broadcast television.
2. Keith Carradine as Wild Bill Hickok-Because he brought all of his own gravitas and the Carradine name and still managed to make his Wild Bill a real and original character. He was just a joy to watch and listen to. Even though he had to die to keep it real historically, I still wish he could have stayed around. (Especially for Calamity Jane's sake.)
3. Franklyn Ajaye as Samuel Fields (The Nigger General). I actually HATED his storyline and everybody else involved in it, BUT I loved seeing the actor, since I remembered him from stand-up appearances in the 70's and 80's and I was just glad to see him working.
4. Ralph Richeson as Richardson. I fucking LOVED Richardson. That guy could do so much with just an expression while Farnum was going on and on with his toadyish scheming. In fact those two characters together were practically the funniest things on the show. It's not a ship, but definitely a great double act.
5. Keone Young as Mr. Wu- Wu and Swearingen, another great double act. (House MD connection for being Harvey Park's father.) Kudos for taking a part that in another era would have been pure stereotype and getting so much depth in there. The moment where he cuts of the queue could have been over the top melodrama and maybe it is, but damn IT WORKS.
6. Paula Malcomson at Trixie. FIERCE BITCH! Yes, I do ship Trixie and Al. Mostly for the fucked upped ness of it. I wanted to like her with Sol, but it just never felt like she was going to get past her feelings for Al or her anti-semitism. But she also gets off some of the greatest lines, my favorite being, after Al has recovered from his kidney stone and the guys all want to see him, and she asks if any of them are sucking Al's prick and then waltzes into the room. I remember watching the DVD extras and being shocked that the actress was Irish. Her American accent is perfect.
7. Robin Wiegert as Calamity Jane. Sheer brilliance. I don't even know if I've seen the actress in anything before or since. She was so perfectly committed to Jane's alcoholism and self-hatred and love for Bill and cranky friendship with Charlie and especially that amazing relationship with Joanie. If I had to pick one reason to hate HBO for the cancellation, it would be not getting to see more of where they went with Jane and Joanie.
8. Ricky Jay as Eddie Sawyer-Again, just for the cool points.
9. Brad Dourif as Doc Cochran-Another piece of completely impeccable acting and an actor completely embodying a role with so many layers. I also kind of ship him with Jane. I ship a lot of people with Jane just because I want her to be happy.
10. (TIE) W. Earl Brown as Dan Dority and Titus Welliver (GREAT NAME!) as Silas Adams. Two kings of snark, fighting to be Al's favorite. More acting perfection and some of the best off-hand dialogue commenting on events at the Gem.