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April 27th, 2008


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11:41 pm - Deadwood? More Like Dead-fucking-wood, Cocksucker!
Now, I'm not one for fucking Westerns, but enough fucking cocksuckers were raving about fucking Deadwood that I thought I'd give it a fucking try.

For the first half of the pilot, the show seemed like a fucking parody of what I thought the show was like. Lots of people in silly hair cursing up a storm. I had to get used to the look and style of everything before I could like it. And the look of the show is one of its major fucking strengths: you really feel like you've been transported back to the late 19th century. It's a very immersive experience; the production value is pretty amazing.

Deadwood is about Deadwood, South Dakota, a real place with real people. Surprisingly, the majority of the characters are actually fucking based on these real people. I knew the more famous ones like Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane, but even Al fucking Swearengen was a real guy back in the day. Of course, I don't know the extent of the liberties taken with the real lives and personalities of these people, but it changes your outlook on the text when you realize it's even more historical fiction than you think. What I eventually realized, though, is that the series is actually about Deadwood. Deadwood the community, the camp, the emerging town. It tracks the way Deadwood evolves and how the citizens of Deadwood have to adapt to going from a lawless camp to a real fucking town that's part of the United States of fucking America.

And who are these citizens? The character everyone talks about is Al Swearengen, who runs the Gem Saloon and, essentially, the whole town, in a way. For the first several episodes, I couldn't get into him because I saw him as a bad, bad man. But then they introduced Cy Tolliver, who was like Al Swearengen but less likable, and I started to really like Al. Because I found it fascinating that every decision he makes is based on his own self-interest. It was a marvel to see what he would (and would not) do and how he justified his actions (or lack thereof). The other thing about Al is that he—shockingly—wasn't as bad as I thought. He's definitely a disagreeable fuck, and he'll orchestrate murders like he's playing fucking Snakes and Ladders, but he also scrubs the blood out of the floor himself, and I find that very telling. I also loved his right-hand man, Dan Dority, who's like a big murderous teddy bear. Doc Cochran is the only doctor in town, which can be very harrowing, especially because he has to put his personal feelings aside to do his job; his concern for his patients, whoever they are, is admirable. Seth Bullock is the former sheriff from Montana come to Deadwood to start a hardware store with Sol Star; I clung to them early on since they were two of the few decent, moral characters. And then there's E.B. Farnum, who runs a hotel. I love E.B. a lot because he is the living embodiment of the word obsequious. Nearly everything he says or has said to him is completely fucking hilarious, either unintentionally (if he's speaking) or intentionally (if someone is giving him a smackdown). He's such a fucking weasel. I also enjoyed A.W. Merrick, newspaperman, and Ellsworth, the amiable prospector. Of course, let's not forget Mr. Wu, whose English is limited to about three words: "Swergin," "cocksucker," and, later, "San Francisco." Any scene with Wu and Swergin is gold.

It's a very manly show, Deadwood. My favorite female characters are two whores and a gimp. Trixie, one of Al's whores, is hard to figure out, but she's fierce and independent. Joanie, one of Cy's whores, is just so damn decent, very different from Trixie, and I always rooted for her to go on to bigger and better things, getting out from under the thumb of that cocksucker Cy Tolliver. And Jewel is seriously the most adorable and hilarious gimp ever; she cracks wise to Al fucking Swearengen, of all people. I didn't care much for Alma Garret, the main female character, because, weirdly enough, she struck me as too proper for the show. In addition, she didn't seem to have much agency at all, but that changed in later seasons, which made me like her a little more. And I couldn't stand Jane most of the time because of the way she spoke, constantly slurring her words (since she was a drunk) and feigning toughness, never really selling her profanity. Also, her character didn't seem to be important at all, ever. Again, like with Alma, I tended to like her more in the third season, especially because the fact that she didn't give a fuck what anyone thought of her was kind of cool. Interestingly enough, however, I noticed that there seemed to be a great many female writers on the writing staff.

The town of Deadwood feels real and alive, populated with a great deal of major and minor characters. One thing I love about the show is the complicated relationships between all the characters. Characters' motivations—when they aren't simply gold, sex, or booze—are often unclear, and their words sometimes contradict their actions. Characters don't like other characters for unexplained reasons. But then, people who didn't necessarily get along with have to make tactical decisions for the good of the community. And that was the awesome part of the show, watching this little microcosm of society form its own little microcosm, a group of men who got together and figured out what the fuck needed to be done, always over canned peaches. I got a kick out of the canned peaches.

The major selling point of the show is the dialogue. Every fucking review you read, it's "Deadwood makes profanity sound like Shakespeare." What the fuck does that even fucking mean? I'd also heard that it was a show you could just listen to and enjoy, the language was that beautiful. And in this respect, the show lived up to the hype. Jesus, the fucking language on this show! It really does have the sort of natural ebb and flow of blank verse, and it's quite fucking appropriate for this show because no one ever fucking gets to the fucking point! They're all a bunch of circuitous cocksuckers who talk around what they really mean so as to avoid approaching the subject directly. But, see, it gets even more Shakespearean: this show has fucking SOLILOQUYS. Sometimes they're disguised as monologues in which characters talk to inanimate objects or animals or the girl giving him a blow job, but they're fucking soliloquies. And it never sounds unnatural is the thing. Some actors handle it better than others, and some actors' voices seem perfectly suited for the language (Ian McShane (Al) and William Sanderson (E.B.), specifically, sound like they were born to spout this shit), but it all generally works. Then, of course, there's all the swearing: the word "fuck" and its derivations are reportedly used 2,980 times during the series, yielding 1.56 FPM. As someone who thinks profanity naturally fits into the empty fucking spaces between words, I had no issues!

I really liked the first season, which impressed me with the way that plot and character were inextricably intertwined so that one had a clear effect on the other. I loved that there were so many plots going on at once. The second season sort of got away from me; I found it tedious and confusing at times. The language is so dense that I wasn't sure what was going on and why half the time. The third season regained focus, and I liked it more than the second season, although it still suffered from having a significant amount of scenes/characters/subplots I didn't care a fucking whit about. The show tends to introduce new characters without any explanation and then expect you to care about them independent of their interactions with the characters you actually fucking know. And, after the engaging first season, something really exciting only happens once every three or four episodes. But the third season really gained some momentum toward the end and ended on a high note, even though the story clearly wasn't finished and apparently never will be.

Deadwood is the fucking story of Deadwood, in a nutshell. It's the story of making your own rules, of maintaining internal identity in the face of external forces, of the relationship between man and community, of power struggles and making the hard choices. All told in language that would make your mom wash your mouth out with soap that may have a prize inside.
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From:roxybisquaint
Date:April 28th, 2008 07:24 am (UTC)

fucking cocksuckers

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got together and figured out what the fuck needed to be done, always over canned peaches

Yeah you gotta love the peaches. Swearengen certainly knew how to host a meeting.

this show has fucking SOLILOQUYS... And it never sounds unnatural is the thing.

Brilliant, isn't it?

I've never liked westerns (EVER) except for Deadwood (and Firefly, if you count that). It created its world so beautifully and the characters were so interesting, that even when you'd sometimes scratch your head trying to figure out what the fuck was going on, it was still great. The relationship between Bullock and Swearengen had to be one of my favorite things about the show — two men coming from completely different ground that hated the fuck out of each another when they could but learned to respect one another and work together when they had to. Oh and also the relationship between Trixie and Swearengen. Bullock, Swerenegen and Trixie were definitely my favorite characters. I agree about Jane. I liked her, but always expected there to be something more to her and there really wasn't. But that's Deadwood for you.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:April 28th, 2008 07:35 am (UTC)

Re: fucking cocksuckers

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Swearengen certainly knew how to host a meeting.
He even says it, one time! "When I have a meeting, I provide refreshments."

The relationship between Bullock and Swearengen had to be one of my favorite things about the show — two men coming from completely different ground that hated the fuck out of each another when they could but learned to respect one another and work together when they had to.
Yeah, I loved that Swearengen hated Bullock, but he respected him, and that's what mattered when it came to Deadwood. And Bullock was no fan of Swearengen's, but he knew that no good would come of going against him, so the two of them try to work around each other by working with each other.

Oh and also the relationship between Trixie and Swearengen.
That was one relationship that mostly confuzzled me.
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From:cucumbersarnies
Date:April 28th, 2008 10:19 am (UTC)
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I thought the first season of Deadwood was tremendous, but I've held off watching the second season, because it just seems like such hard work. It's a show that you need to be in peak concentration to watch.

I love the female characters on Deadwood, in particular Jane. You could see how she's tried desperately to fit into this masculine world by rejecting her feminity, and how she struggles with anything good in her life. She's a classic picture of low self esteem.

My dad loves this show too- I got him the DVD's one father's day. This might explain my family's comfort with swearing in front of each (Erin was shocked when she visited!).

Maybe some actors relative comfort with the dialogue is due to having experience with Shakespeare? Ian McShane would definitely have that from a UK theatre background.

Have you watched The Wire? That's amazing, and of all the 'quality' HBO shows that I like best. Some of the problem I have with Deadwood and equally the Sopranos is that I'm watching fairly horrid people do horrible things. With The Wire there is an overall moral comment on current American life that I really like (though that doesn't sound like a recommendation, does it?) It's very very good.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:April 28th, 2008 02:31 pm (UTC)
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it just seems like such hard work. It's a show that you need to be in peak concentration to watch.
Oh, totally. They don't really tell you what's going on on a silver platter.

Have you watched The Wire?
Not yet, but I will be watching it soon.

Happy birthday!!
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From:wiscck
Date:April 28th, 2008 11:17 am (UTC)
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I've never seen this fucking show, but I fucking love your fucking review.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:April 28th, 2008 02:32 pm (UTC)
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Fucking thank you!
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From:scripted22
Date:April 28th, 2008 12:53 pm (UTC)
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And the look of the show is one of its major fucking strengths: you really feel like you've been transported back to the late 19th century.

Definitely. One of my favorite things was how dirty everyone looked. On shows like Gunsmoke, everyone looked freshly bathed and you know back then they were lucky if they washed up once a week.

Of course, I don't know the extent of the liberties taken with the real lives and personalities of these people, but it changes your outlook on the text when you realize it's even more historical fiction than you think.

It really does. I spent an evening on Wikipedia looking up many of the people. Al's saloon took in a pile of money (in 2006 dollars, about $90,000 to $180,000 a night) and Bullock's wife actually was his childhood sweetheart, not his dead brother's wife that he was forced to care for.

Any scene with Wu and Swergin is gold.

You'd better fucking believe those cocksuckers are gold!


[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:April 28th, 2008 02:33 pm (UTC)
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One of my favorite things was how dirty everyone looked.
Yes!!

Al's saloon took in a pile of money (in 2006 dollars, about $90,000 to $180,000 a night)
Good goddamn.

You'd better fucking believe those cocksuckers are gold!
They're heng dai!
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From:gymble
Date:April 28th, 2008 01:39 pm (UTC)
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Deadwood is one of those shows that I feel guilty about. Because I tried watching it once and just couldn't get into it. I think that I made it through the first three or four episodes, but nothing about it grabbed me. I'm supposed to watch The Wire and I worry that the same thing is going to happen. I have trouble with Very Serious shows.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:April 28th, 2008 02:53 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, I always have that fear with Very Serious shows myself. Deadwood does have its humorous moments, though. But it's also Very Serious, like it knows it's hot shit. "Check me out, I'm so byzantine and incomprehensible!" There are a lot of words. And sometimes not enough.

I'm watching The Wire after HIMYM.
From:harriettheelf
Date:April 28th, 2008 03:01 pm (UTC)
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two whores and a gimp

um? What does "gimp" mean in this context? Please tell me it's a sex thing, not a person-with-a-disability thing.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:April 28th, 2008 03:09 pm (UTC)
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It's the latter, and that's what she's referred to as on the show. I certainly meant no offense.
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From:maka2000
Date:April 28th, 2008 03:08 pm (UTC)
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I've never watched Deadwood, but I have heard it was excellent. It might be a rental someday.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:April 28th, 2008 03:31 pm (UTC)
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Well, you'll have to post about it if you check it out.
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From:annabelleonyx
Date:April 28th, 2008 03:28 pm (UTC)
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We watched the entire series with the captions on in order to follow the show. It helped a ton. Although now we watch almost everything with captions, including The Wire.

That was an excellent review of the show.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:April 28th, 2008 03:30 pm (UTC)
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Some of my episodes had Swedish subtitles. They didn't exactly help me understand what was going on.
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From:morgandawn
Date:April 28th, 2008 04:08 pm (UTC)
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we love this show for many of the same reasons. after you get closer to the end of the first season, check out the songvid "Woman King" that sdwolfpup did about Alma - it was very moving and also anger stirring.
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From:lenadances
Date:April 28th, 2008 04:19 pm (UTC)
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Then, of course, there's all the swearing: the word "fuck" and its derivations are reportedly used 2,980 times during the series, yielding 1.56 FPM.

FPM!!! ::is weeping with laughter:: That form of measurement has just made my day. I am using my Mr. Wu icon in honor of it. God bless Mr. Wu, the Chinese version of Swearengen; the frustration between those two trying to communicate was so great, and, even better, they actually MANAGED TO COMMUNICATE nine times out of ten it because they had so damn much in common that subject matters such as drug smuggling could be pulled from COCKSUCKA and SWIDGEN! ...and now I really have to re-watch this show, just from remembering that.

What I learned from Deadwood is that heavy concepts, angst, and dark subject matter can be leavened by a) creating very strong characters, b) put any two in a scene together, and c) let the miscommunication and strange sympathies begin. End of story. Wu and Swearengen are a case in point, but it just got set up so that every single character had such a strong sense of self that there was no end to the combinations that could be put together and hilarity could ensue. SO GREAT.

It does sound like Shakespeare. Every word is so formal and precise and yet so very character-specific. And every other word is profanity. I have no explanation for why it works but holy crow does it work.

The canned peaches... I remember hearing that explained at some point. It was framed as a sort of an unspoken superstition-- they had canned peaches at the first meeting, and the meeting worked, and so they just kept having peaches at every meeting afterward. Made me so happy.

I am sad that you do not like Jane. She is so self-destructive and so fragile, and she tries so hard to be tough and it never really works, and then there's this homespun honest shine that comes out of her for specific people-- Bill, or Sofia, particularly-- that just completely blows her cover and shows how much things touch her, which goes a long way toward explaining the alcohol. Really, when it comes down to it, Jane in a nutshell is all about failed protection. She wants to protect herself, she wants to protect others, but she does a poor job of it most of the time and her failures crush her. I can't help it, I feel for the poor thing. ::cuddles:: We unfortunately quote her ALL THE TIME, still, particularly when either Token or I will get on an apology kick: thanks to Jane, the ubiquitous response is "Apology accepted, now SHUT the FUCK UP". Mostly I love seeing her shining hero-worship of Bill, and the squabbling sibling-esque relationship she has with Charlie Utter.

Speaking of whom, add these two cocksuckers to the "decent people" list: Charlie Utter and Ellsworth. Beautiful, both of them.

Bullock fascinates me. I think that, to a certain extent, the cohesiveness of the first season was due to the fact that it was all building toward Bullock inevitably taking the office of sheriff, which he absolutely did not want to do but which he's so, so suited for. He's a moral man with a not inconsiderable immoral streak, all bottled violence and gritted teeth. He is a constant glowering threat; the fact that he never kills anyone (am I remembering that correctly?) is cancelled out by the way that he's so obviously holding himself back from doing so by strength of will alone, and it makes one feel that it would be best to avoid testing that willpower. He just seethes.

You're right about the lack of agency re: Alma Garrett. I never put my finger on it, but that's the exact thing: for the longest time, she is in a purely reactive position, which doesn't make for a strong character. I do like her, though; keeping up her proper attitude while in the constant company of murderers, whores, and literal golddiggers of all stripes is something that impresses me. I occasionally think that her character would have done better if that steel at her center had been sharper. While it was impressive to have Bullock beat the tar out of her father (!!!) to protect her, it would have been better for her character to have a way out of it herself.

I really really really need to watch the show again. Like, RIGHT NOW.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:April 28th, 2008 04:39 pm (UTC)
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FPM!!! ::is weeping with laughter:: That form of measurement has just made my day.
The Internet is made of love.

I am using my Mr. Wu icon in honor of it.
Ha! Nice!

God bless Mr. Wu, the Chinese version of Swearengen
Huh, I never really thought of him that way; he didn't seem nearly so ruthless and cutthroat.

the frustration between those two trying to communicate was so great, and, even better, they actually MANAGED TO COMMUNICATE nine times out of ten it because they had so damn much in common that subject matters such as drug smuggling could be pulled from COCKSUCKA and SWIDGEN!
I know! He would draw some pictures and say the same two words over and over again while pointing, and Al would figure it out.

It does sound like Shakespeare. Every word is so formal and precise and yet so very character-specific. And every other word is profanity. I have no explanation for why it works but holy crow does it work.
Right? It's got the same flow, and the words are so delicately chosen, and it all sounds wonderful, punctuated with profanity.

The canned peaches... I remember hearing that explained at some point. It was framed as a sort of an unspoken superstition-- they had canned peaches at the first meeting, and the meeting worked, and so they just kept having peaches at every meeting afterward. Made me so happy.
Ha, yeah, that makes sense. I just loved these big, powerful men gathering over...canned peaches.

I am sad that you do not like Jane.
I can see why people like aspects of her character, and she does have some really funny lines, but her way of speaking was so supremely off-putting and irritating. And she was so brusque with everyone.

Speaking of whom, add these two cocksuckers to the "decent people" list: Charlie Utter and Ellsworth. Beautiful, both of them.
Oh, definitely. I didn't care much about Utter in the first season, but he really grew on me in the others. I of course was inclined to love Ellsworth because of Jim Beaver's role on Supernatural.

Bullock fascinates me. I think that, to a certain extent, the cohesiveness of the first season was due to the fact that it was all building toward Bullock inevitably taking the office of sheriff, which he absolutely did not want to do but which he's so, so suited for.
Yeah, it was very Bullock-focused, and I actually ended up losing some love for him in the other two seasons because of The Mr. and Mrs. Bullock Frigid Relationship Hour.

the fact that he never kills anyone (am I remembering that correctly?)
Hm. Well, there's that guy that either he or Bill kills in one of the first couple episodes, but they never confirm who had the kill. I don't think he kills anyone else, though.

He just seethes.
Totally! I agree that Bullock is a good character, and, like I said above, I wished they'd spent more time on that aspect.

You're right about the lack of agency re: Alma Garrett. I never put my finger on it, but that's the exact thing: for the longest time, she is in a purely reactive position, which doesn't make for a strong character.
Seriously. She's the top-billed woman, and she spends, like, the entire first season in her goddamn room either A) high on dope or B) deciding whether or not to stay in Deadwood when we know she's going to stay, for Christ's sake.

I do like her, though; keeping up her proper attitude while in the constant company of murderers, whores, and literal golddiggers of all stripes is something that impresses me.
Good point.

While it was impressive to have Bullock beat the tar out of her father (!!!) to protect her, it would have been better for her character to have a way out of it herself.
Oh man, that scene was awesome, and I loved the look on Bullock's face after it. But I agree that she lacked the strong will and power of someone like Trixie or even Joanie.

I really really really need to watch the show again. Like, RIGHT NOW.
Heh. I wasn't madly in love with the show, but it's definitely good stuff. And even though I was ready for it to end, once I got to the end, I wished for the fourth season to give it the proper ending it deserved.
[User Picture]
From:punzerel
Date:April 28th, 2008 05:20 pm (UTC)
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I was going to say that for super high FPM, you should watch The Commitments - but apparently it's only 1.28 FPM. So maybe not good enough for you. :P

Also, my favouritest philosophy teacher LOVED Deadwood, therefore it must be awesome.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:April 28th, 2008 05:23 pm (UTC)
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Heh, I think I actually saw The Commitments a long time ago. But it was on a plane.
(Deleted comment)
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From:ethanvahlere
Date:April 29th, 2008 01:09 am (UTC)
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I need to give Deadwood another try. When I watched the pilot, I thought it had the same problem another David Milch series (NYPD Blue) had; it was too self-conscious about being hard-boiled.

What did you think of Kristen Bell on the show?
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:April 29th, 2008 01:19 am (UTC)
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Oh, I didn't realize NYPD Blue was David Milch. Huh. I've never seen it.

Deadwood is still a little self-conscious about being hard-boiled, but it has good characters to make up for it. Actually, it's not that it tries to be hard-boiled; it's that it's a little in love with itself and the fact that it's so literate and deep. It's not a pervasive thing, but there are times where it feels like that.

What did you think of Kristen Bell on the show?
Oh, Kristen was great. I thought she was better at playing an evil-type character than she was on Heroes initially (she's since eased into the role, though).
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From:pseudo_tsuga
Date:April 29th, 2008 03:53 am (UTC)
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I remember watching several episodes of the first season with my dad, which was really fucking awkward at first, but given that he curses himself when something goes wrong it wasn't as weird as it could have been.

The language was the first thing I noticed; it was amazing how they can take all the profanity and just make it work. Now that I look back on some episodes, it probably was a bit in love with itself but I didn't notice it at the time.

I loved Bullock and how, while he was a "good guy" compared to other characters he still did some pretty bad things and was really violent as well. Didn't he cheat on his wife with one of the prostitutes? Or maybe it was with the widow? I don't remember many of the names or the characters. I do remember the preacher and not liking him because it made me wince to see how naive he was. Al Swearengen as the town's...something, was a great character as well as Mr. Wu. Swearing is universal! Who needs a dictionary when you can just shout "cocksuckers"?
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:April 29th, 2008 04:00 am (UTC)
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Didn't he cheat on his wife with one of the prostitutes? Or maybe it was with the widow?
The widow.

I do remember the preacher and not liking him because it made me wince to see how naive he was.
Yeah, I agree.

Who needs a dictionary when you can just shout "cocksuckers"?
Exactly!
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From:sdwolfpup
Date:July 8th, 2008 11:07 pm (UTC)
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Agree entirely with your assessment of the seasons; season 2 felt really weak to me, mostly because I was so confused through most of it. Season 3 redeemed the show and let them go out in style. I still take some perverse pleasure in the fall of Milch's surfer show, since he ditched DW for it.

But then they introduced Cy Tolliver, who was like Al Swearengen but less likable, and I started to really like Al

Yes! Al was fascinating to me, but I didn't really like him until Cy showed up. And the season 1 finale is still one of the better episodes of television out there, IMO.

This is my only Deadwood icon.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:July 8th, 2008 11:22 pm (UTC)
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And the season 1 finale is still one of the better episodes of television out there, IMO.
Oh yeah, when Bullock beats the shit out of Alma's dad and walks out of the bar and he just has this amazing expression on his face like "What the fuck did I just DO?" Acting! It tells the story!

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