As my holidays draw to a close, so too does my obsessive viewing of TV shows on DVD. So far, I have knocked off all three series of BBC’s Robin Hood, two series of The Big Bang Theory, two series of Friday Night Lights and now I have just finished watching the third and final series of Deadwood.
I had to Google the latter today after watching the final episode in the wee hours of the morning. I thought perhaps I missed something as I felt somewhat dissatisfied at the way the show wrapped up. I didn’t expect an out-of-place montage tying up loose ends a-la Pushing Daisies, but I thought there would be some sense of closure for us viewers.
However, it wasn’t until this morning’s googling that I discovered two things. Firstly, a fourth season was initially expected, which I decided could account for the anti-climactic ending…. But more importantly I was confronted with my own ignorance (at least in terms of American folklore), upon learning that the entire show was significantly based on fact!!! D’oh!
While watching I had been surprised at some of the liberties taken, through the introduction of ‘Calamity’ Jane and ‘Wild’ Bill Hickok, not realising until today that most of the other characters and many of the events of the show were actually also based on – as quoted by Wikipedia – ‘historical truths’ with a few embellishments added for the purposes of entertainment.
This knowledge would have informed my viewing and – more importantly – my expectations considerably had it been conferred on me previously. Had I realised that there was some need to adhere to factual accounts; it would have lessened the aforementioned disappointment that the storyline didn’t reflect the kind of TV-land ending that allows viewers to sleep contentedly at night.
A friend had tried to convince me to watch Deadwood for years but I had refrained, having little interest in the ‘western’ as a genre. However, as it happened I discovered it in the same way I discovered some recent passions, Big Bang Theory and Entourage – through re-runs on television.
Although I sped through the three seasons of the show and often refused to delay gratification, watching episode after episode, I didn’t LOVE love it, ie. It isn’t something I would watch again and again – my definition of a show I love.
There is no doubting, however, that the show was made by clever people and that is something I appreciate (hence my love of West Wing, Pushing Daisies, Buffy etc). The scripts and dialogue were amazing and it wasn’t until the second or third season that I became conscious that each line from a character’s mouth was akin to Shakespearean prose (albeit slightly more colourful!), with the quality of the vernacular and use of soliloquies and monologues growing each episode.
I have to admit to being a bit gobsmacked while watching the first episode. No one had warned me about the language. Don’t get me wrong, I swear like a trooper, dropping the F-bomb far too much and I must admit that the c-word doesn’t even worry me much nowadays…. but I wasn’t prepared for it on my free-to-air-TV viewing. Wikipedia quotes that ‘fuck’ was used 43 times during the first hour of the show, setting the tone for the rest of the seasons, with the word used 1.56 times every minute of footage. I expect the word ‘cocksucker’ featured as a pronoun almost as much. Of course once inured to the language you realise that being called a (language alert!!!) loopy fuckin’ c_nt is in fact a term of endearment. At least in the characters’ eyes.
When Season 4 didn’t progress, creator David Milch was to have wrapped the show up via a series of TV movies, but four years later these have not eventuated. A shame really, because while I can learn what happened to their real-life namesakes… I would kinda like to have known what would have happened to the Deadwood characters I’d known on-screen.