Deadwood The Complete Third Season

Deadwood The Complete Third Season
The "curse of HBO” strikes again, as for every Sopranos or Six Feet Under (or potentially, Entourage), an equally critically acclaimed, brilliant yet not as popular series falls to the axe before completing its story arc. While The Wire (one of HBO’s finest series and one the best on TV) continues to fight the good fight, Deadwood succumbed to this curse in its third season. However, unlike Carnivàle, which went out on a frustratingly stunning cliff-hanger likely to never be resolved, the third season of creator David Milch’s "western” has been "promised” a couple of two-hour movies to tie up the series’ loose ends and everything it has been slow-boiling towards, even though word on their status has yet to materialise. The third season of this incredibly dense, plot-heavy, poetic, vulgar, sometimes slow (punctuated by flashes of brutality) tale revolves around the once outlaw gold-mining town of Deadwood struggling with the challenges of becoming civilised and respected while maintaining its independence with the coming elections, and against the machinations of businessman George Hearst and his mining operations. With the arrival of Hearst as the series’ big bad, giving the camp and its once opposing forces a common foe to rally against, former adversaries Al Swearengen, the dark (but not black) heart that drove the series in its first seasons (played remarkably by Ian McShane), and short-tempered lawman Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant) are forced to put aside their feuding in the name of survival. But, as Olyphant remarks in one of the too few featurettes, the series isn’t about his character, or McShane’s, but the town itself, its evolution and about solitary creatures coming together for survival. This doesn’t take away from any of the uniformly excellent performances but speaks to the grander scale and ambitions of Milch, who, after building to a bloody confrontation all season between Hearst and the town instead sets things back to simmer. In Milch’s lone commentary on season three’s last episode, Milch, who is an engaging character, explains some of his themes ("speaking truth in the face of power”) while talking about being unable to watch his series on TV after the "cancellation,” while a historical featurette details the real-life events that influenced its third season and "The Education of Swearengen and Bullock” examines the evolving relationship between two of the principals. Watching Deadwood is like reading Shakespeare while running a marathon with a stevedore constantly cussing you out and getting sucker-punched in the face every couple of miles. Yeah, it’s that good. (Warner)