Thursday, February 07, 2008


HBO (Home Box Office) is the premium television programming subsidiary of Time Warner. It has over 40 million US subscribers. Because it delivers its content via cable, it is free from many of the censorship laws that restrict the 'adult' content of other US broadcasting companies, which is just as well, because Deadwood has a lot of very, very adult content.

The series is a 'Western', set in a semi-historical town called Deadwood in the 1870s, before, during and after its annexation to the Dakota Territory.

Deadwood is one of the many 'stage-camps' that people used on their journey to prospect for gold in the Black Hills. The series follows the lives of a number of its occupants.

Deadwood features many historical figures, such as Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane and Wyatt Earp, but fact and fiction are frequently blurred in service of the plot-line.

The key figure is Al Swearengen, played by Ian McShane (yes, Lovejoy!) who plays the role of his life as the menacing, viciously pragmatic, football-faced 'Godfather' of Deadwood, and owner of The Gem Saloon, which also functions as a hotel and a brothel.

The other outstanding character is Calamity Jane, Wild Bill Hickok's alcoholic, foul-mouthed scout. Robin Weigert plays the part brilliantly, portraying a clever, sensitive but damaged woman who is just a little bit too devoted to her boss.

This is not a series to watch if you are squeamish about, well just about anything. There are few taboos that aren't confronted, including racism, prostitution, misogyny, disability... but it is one to watch if you enjoy meaty scripts and big issues.

In short, I have no real idea what the 'Wild West' was really like, but I have a pretty good idea that it looked a lot more like Deadwood than Oklahoma.

Like many HBO series it was cut short due to falling ratings and mounting production costs, closing half-way through the third series. The box-set is available from Amazon for £42 inc. p&p. Put it on your wishlist.


ConradGempf said...

Speaking of falling ratings and mounting production costs, Brett, were you at Wembley last night? I don't know what you think of Capello, but even you would have to admit that Ashley Cole wasn't performing up to the standard we see him play at club level...

brett jordan said...

Hi Conrad

I had tickets for the game, but made the mistake of visiting IKEA before the match, and got lost in the kitchen section... fortunately I got out before closing time, and watched it when I got home.

I'm pleased that Mr Capello has been working on his English, although I'm not sure whether this will help him communicate with the team, as they seem to have a fairly rudimentary grasp of the language themselves.

As for Ashley's performance, my guess is that he might be a little distracted at the moment... and that Fabio could be just the sort of manager he needs, it doesn't sound like he suffers fools gladly...

On the positive side, Joe Cole, Rooney and Bentley worked well together, and Jenas and Gerrard are showing real promise.

At the end of the day, a win is a win, and while England still don't look like world-beaters, they were better in the second half than they were in the first... which, in a game which is made of two-halves, is always a good thing.

Capello has got his work cut out, but he's well aware of this... let's hope his 'no-nonsense' style of management knocks some 1966-style discipline into those overpaid poodles!

Sofie said...

. . . .Football faced?

brett jordan said...

round, puffy, battered...