Deadwood: Season 1, Episode 1; Pilot.

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Probably the best show to ever be cancelled, Deadwood was short lived with only 3 seasons. But those 3 seasons were excellent. My teacher in high school described Deadwood as Shakespeare, but with every third word a swear word. Deadwood is not the show for you if you don’t like profanity or violence. But if you do than you’ll probably love it. Although it’s a slow burn. You have to really listen and pay attention. And be okay with a bit of a slower pace. But if you stick it out, Deadwood becomes a real intellectual treat.

Wild Bill Hickok (Keith Carradine) and Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant).
Wild Bill Hickok (Keith Carradine) and Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant).

The show takes place in Deadwood, South Dakota during the 1870s. At this time Deadwood was not legally a part of the United States. So there was no law and no government there. I find it fascinating to explore what happens to a small town with no law to rule it. Who takes charge and what do people gather around and what do they put value in? These kinds of questions span the whole course of the show. Deadwood really is “A hell of a place to your your fortune.” Gold is highly valued in Deadwood’s society which can draw a lot of parallels to our society today. Anything can happen in Deadwood, but there’s still a hierarchy and an unspoken way of living.

Ian McShane gives one of the best performances in television history as Al Swearengen.
Ian McShane gives one of the best performances in television history as Al Swearengen.

It’s hard to pick a favorite character as there are so many interesting ones. Seth Bullock and Al Swearengen are my top 2. Bullock is the more likeable character so he wins by a bit. Although Al can be pretty hilarious, but he’s despicable at the end of the day. Timothy Olyphant is great as Seth Bullock. He communicates so much through just his eyes or a subtle smirk. He’s quiet, yet he’s not a pushover, he’s actually quite quick to anger. The dichotomy of Bullock and Al is incredibly interesting and fun to watch. It isn’t discussed in this episode though, but it becomes the focus of the entire show soon enough. Bullock is basically the law and morality while Al is chaos and immorality. Timothy Olyphant and Ian McShane are two great actors equally matched and they are a joy to watch. The two don’t meet in this episode though, yet they are still in a bit of a rivalry.
This is a great first episode. It introduces all of the main characters quite well. You get a good feel for them. But there are a lot of them, so it’s a little overwhelming in that sense. Timothy Olyphant shines in the episode’s two key scenes (the very beginning and the scalping debacle), but so too does Ian McShane, infusing the show with humor and chaos. Deadwood is a show that is unlike any other.

Instances of “cocksucker”: 7, “cunt”: 3, “motherfucker”: 1, “pussy”: 3.
Tidbits:
• The way the guy hanging at the beginning of the episode says “Fuck you!” I just found it kind of funny. He was a funny guy, too bad he dies right away.
• Timothy Olyphant is gorgeous. I said this multiple times to myself throughout the episode. Seriously! *swoon*
• Calamity Jane (Robin Weigert) is hilarious. She somehow manages to survive in a man’s world with her foul mouth. “You ignorant fucking cunts!” Her platonic (I think) love of Wild Bill is palpable.
• Paula Malcomson has a much better role her as Trixie than she does on Ray Donovan. Her relationship with Al is fascinating. Some could chalk it up to Stockholm syndrome, but I think there is more to it than that.
• Al: “Don’t tell me what to do.” Bam! He just says that so calmly and throws Trixie with no remorse. It’s both funny and sad. He’s a real bastard to her. But I guess he also protects her.
• “Did he down it or is he…sipping at it?” hahaha, Al’s contempt for Brom is tangible (I hate Brom too).
• “Should I tell you when I plan to take a shit tomorrow or would that be none of your fucking business?” So many good Al-isms.
• Bill and Bullock form an alliance of sorts.
• Shooting a gun at the ceiling of the Gem seems kind of dumb until Al says “I guess when it starts pissin’ rain in here you know who to blame, huh?”

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