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on March 25, 2007
"Deadwood" either is your cup of tea or isn't, and if it isn't, then you probably have no business even considering prchasing these DVDs; the third season in't gonna change your mind. If it IS your cup of tea, and you're just wondering whether or not the third season meets the high marks set by the first two seasons, allow me to answer: it does. In some cases, it even surpasses them.

The third season finds the camp in a general tizzy about the upcoming elections for mayor and sheriff, and Al Swearengen in a bit more specific tizzy about the impact the arrival of George Hearst has had on his life and livelihood. In a sense, the entire season is about the power play between these two titans, with Cy Tolliver trying to edge himself into the mix somewhere and Seth Bullock trying to figure out what his place is in the whole mess.

Amongst the other plot threads explored in this season: Jane's growing friendship with the increasingly troubled Joanie Stubbs; Alma's opening a Deadwood bank; the feud between Steve and Hostetler; the oddly touching relationship between Trixie and Sol; Elsworth's marriage to Alma, which may not prove to be the bed of roses he had hoped for; the appearance in town of the Earp brothers, and of a troupe of actors; and, of course, Seth Bullock's ever-present willingness to be grumpy with the wrong person, Farnum's weasly nature, and Merrick's desire to write about it all.

The plots don't matter much, though. The dialogue and the acting are what make this show great. "Deadwood," in its three seasons, had so many iconic moments that it makes most other shows look like film-school projects in comparison.

In addition to the regular cast standouts -- Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, W. Earl Brown, William Sanderson, Brad Dourif, Molly Parker, Powers Boothe, Robin Weigert, and so on, ALL of whom do Emmy-caliber work -- I think special mention needs to go to Gerald McRaney, who turned up right at the end of season two but becomes an integral character in the third. His portrayal of Hearst is just awesome. Not that he's better than anyone else on the show; he just immediately fits in with the tone of the show, so much so that it really feels as if his character had been there all along, lurking in the shadows somewhere.

Much has been written about the fact that HBO decided to cancel the series, and pretty unexpectedly; but don't fret too much about the show ending on a cliffhanger. Not all plot points are resolved, but there is at least a sort of closure; it's like the first two seasons, where it feels as if a chapter has ended, but the novel will continue. Well, it looks like the novel WON'T be continuing -- HBO has claimed that there will be two two-hour movies to wrap things up, but no filming dates seem to have been set, and it's been months since anyone had anything to say about that project -- but if the series has to end with the close of the third season, I won't feel as if I was cheated too terribly badly. I'd prefer it had run for ten or twelve years, but hey, we're lucky the doggone thing ever even got made.
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VINE VOICEon January 4, 2008
David Milch's Deadwood in its final (alas) Season 3 is even more eccentric than its predecessors as it delineates the titanic struggle between the scruffy entrepeneurs of Swearengen, Bullock, Starr and Alma Garrett with the ruthless implacability and arbitrariness of unfettered wealth and power as represented by George Hearst. The language in this Season is even more baroque, circuitous, arcane and delicious as Milch explores the strange nexus between detached Victorian propriety and the profane, muscular and gritty gutter modernity of the mining camp.

Likewise, new characters are introduced that provide side stories of no other purpose other than the fun of exploration of new characters and context, most noticeably the acting troupe of Jack Langrishe (the incomparable Brian Cox) as a sort of Greek chorus while allowing an examination of the role of Art in human community. No doubt, had the series continued, these were storylines for future exploitation. There is a nice subplot concerning Hostetler, Fields (nice to see Franklyn Ajaye again) and Drunk Steve, the appearance of the morally ambiguous and lethal Earp brothers, and the onslaught of Hearst's army of Pinkertons and their Captain Barrett. There is the continuing exploration of the harsh and bitter lot of women and the paradoxical and confused relations between the races and the dominant and minority communities, and much much more, all presented with extremely droll and idiosyncratic humor amid occasional eruptions of violence.

Frankly, I could write paragraphs on individual subtext stories and performances but I would be preaching to the choir or waxing eloquent to deaf ears. So, with a nod to the marvelous leads of Tim Olyphant's intemperate, explosive, rigid yet true Seth Bullock ("His holiness, the maniac sheriff"), Ian McShane's towering and oh so humanly complicated rascality as Al Swearengen, and Molly Parker's beautiful and beset Alma Garrett, and now Gerald McRaney's detestable tyrant George Hearst, with apologies for foregoing naming all the wonderful actors of this brilliant ensemble, we bid farewell to the steadfast and reliable Sol Starr, the loyal and courageous Charlie Utter, the beautiful and sorrowful Joanie Stubbs, the vicious and cruel Cy Tolliver, the resilient and fiery Trixie, the threadbare yet noble Doc Cochran, the fawning and pathetic weaselry of EB Farnum, the drunken yet endearing Calamity Jane, and so on. I could list virtually every player for fine work in creating the complicated characters of Martha Bullock, Ellsworth, Merrick, Dan Dority, Adams, Wu, Johnny, Tom Nuttall, Jarry, Hostetler, Fields, Drunk Steve, Richardson, Aunt Lou, etc. All the players, central and supporting, did marvelous work.

Congratulations to Milch and his production staff and this fine company of actors who brought the complex language, both elevated and earthy, to vibrant life, with wonderful sets and costumes, writing, photography, direction and editing. A marvelous imagining of characters and place, with intriguing themes of sex and relationships, race and custom, of friendship and isolation, loneliness and community, of ambition and greed coupled with sacrifice and care, and without and within, an all too human fallibility. I would have welcomed many more Seasons of this complicated and quirky exploration, but it was not to be. However, as one fine Amazon reviewer put it "we were lucky to have it at all", in all its glorious self-indulgence. This fine effort will be sorely missed by those of us who loved its daring and unique creativity, but at least we can be grateful for its preservation on DVD. As the dieing old actor says "The Masks lie, Comedy and Tragedy are the same", and Deadwood brought it all to us with a howl and a roar.
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The third, and possibly final, season of HBO's critically acclaimed Deadwood had it's share of slow moving moments to be sure, but the series as a whole lived up to the excellent precedent set by the previous two seasons of the show. As the third season opens, sheriff Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant) makes a run for re-election, which gets side tracked by forging an uneasy alliance with Al Swearengen (Ian McShane) against the vendictive George Hearst (Gerald McRaney) who comes to the camp with some deadly plans for everyone involved. The lives of newly weds Alma Garret (Molly Parker) and Whitney Ellsworth (Jim Beaver), as well as Sol (John Hawkes) and Trixie (Paula Malcomson) are in jeopardy as Hearst prepares to wreak bloody havoc, which is mainly what this season of the series is focused on. Also during this season, we witness the recovery of Cy (Powers Boothe), as well as bonding between Calamity Jane (Robin Weigert) and Joanie (Kim Dickens), and the debilitating health of Doc Cochran (Brad Dourif). If you've been a fan of the show for some time, you know what to expect with Deadwood in terms of it's vulgarity and violence, so if you're new to the show, you won't really be won over by anything here. That being said, the third season of Deadwood is some truly great TV regardless, and the ensemble cast as usual is superb; with Olyphant, McShane, and McRaney being the best of the bunch. As the previous reviewer stated, if this is indeed the final season of the show with no other kind of resolution, there isn't any real cliffhanger that leaves the viewer cursing at the screen (a la Carnivale). That being said, hopefully this isn't the last hurrah for Deadwood, and there will be another chapter before these characters ride off into the sunset.
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on October 31, 2008
I was hooked on Deadwood from the start and in particular absolutely mesmerised by Ian McShane's performance - acting at its absolute finest, perfect timing and pacing of his lines and expressions. Comedy, violence, anger and angst, all delivered in impeccable and perfect pitch - a complete masterclass in the art. And this from the same man who played Lovejoy!

The sets were superb, the supporting ensemble pretty good... but unfortunately, by Season 3, it seemed like things were starting to unravel, probably when the director/producers realised the viewing figures were waning, HBO had lost interest and that the end was nigh.

Which probably explains why the massive build-up to a climactic showdown never happened - they ran out of budget. Committed to a set number of shows for the rest of the season, they just stretched it out to fill. A massive anti-climax and disappointment, and an affront to the show's loyal fans.

Hearst arrived and everything was building up to some sort of epic confrontation. Hired guns arriving in town, Mr Wu fetching his army of Chinese from San Francisco... I thought we were going to go out in an epic blaze of glory.

Instead, we had characters standing around agonising on what to do next, marching around from one building to another, doing the odd Shakespearean-style soliloquoy, indulging in embarrassing lesbian scenes (Calamity Jane must rank as the most irritating and unwatchable character in any TV series) and all manner of other pointless and dull interludes.

Meanwhile key characters from Seasons 1 and 2, like Sy Tolliver, became sidelined in Series 3, characters going nowhere and with no real motives or objectives in life.

Tolliver spends most of Series 3 standing around ranting and raving, but for reasons which totally escape me. What his purpose was, and what his relationship with Hearst was, all seemed to melt into nothing, so he was reduced to standing on his balcony looking angry and gritting his teeth.

All this wouldn't have been so bad, but as the guns massed, the taunts grew, the violence simmered and boiled, the random acts of brutality caused ever more teeth-clenching... what happened? Nothing! Nothing at all! Hearst rode out of town after Bulloch clenched his teeth at him one last time, and that was it! How feeble was that?

The whole series just fizzled out, with the election supposed to be some sort of climactic finale. But the significance of the election, or who was standing for what, and why, completely escaped me. It just seemed an irritating, confusing and weakly-scripted diversion in the background, not the major plotline.

When the election finally took place, the results were confusingly blurted out in Al's pub by a minor character, nobody seemed bothered by them (including the viewers), or even heard them properly, and the meaning and impact of it had become totally lost, to the point where it hardly seemed to matter.

This review gets three stars for Ian McShane's brilliant character acting, for the sets, and for HBO's bravura in putting this ambitious series on in the first place.

But it desperately needs some sort of finale, a tying up of loose ends, as some sort of payback for the long hours the loyal fans have put in following it all.

Oh, it also gets bonus points for the magnificent horse in the credits (called Bobby, I believe), and for Ellwood's wonderful dog (can anybody supply any more information on him?)
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on June 25, 2015
SO much promise and HBO pulled the plug. The story arcs were invested with much screen time,but some, as with the acting company diversion, were worthless and likely the cause of the viewer decline that forced HBO to execute the entire series. This was a fantastic series that lost its way. Olyphant was a disappointment when measured by his turn in Justified, where he was superb. Ian McShane was the anchor for Deadwood. So many worked with focus to make this an epic series and the writers/producers dropped the ball. Lost Opportunity would have been a better name for this series.
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on September 9, 2015
I don't give it one star for the offense nature of the content, or the massive degrading of all types of people especially women. Mind you I am not talking about the hooker scenes, but how seemingly strong women capitulate into stereotypes. The dialog seems good at first but you realize, later on, that they are often and casually using present "sayings" and modern lingoes. The acting is ok, but definitely wains with time. The 1st season has a good story, but after there it slowly turns into a train wreck. The show was cancelled early so expect a monumental unresolved ending, if you make that far. Basically every thing they work towards and struggle to achieve throughout seasons 2 and 3, the basically walk away from when they could have won it all. Very disappointing! Also the main character Sheriff Bullock, in season 1, is considered to be uncorruptable and the only bastion of justice in this wilderness town, however in the next two season he capitulates time and time again. He does things he have shot a man for doing in the first season. Furtheremore, he uses his position to bully others into what he wants. Something he talks against in the first season. I do not recommend as you wade through several episodes of sleaze with the underpinning of the ends justify the means. Only to find that the characters a just going to give up. A big disappointment!
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on July 22, 2015
Superbly acted and written. However; this series deadended right in the middle of nowhere. Leaving you totally hanging and confused. Season 3 started a process and a progression of all the characters that was very clearly headed to further history in the making and ended with tons of unanswered questions and unresolved issues. Enough to make me and my wife wish we never watched it to begin with.
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on January 24, 2008
SPOILER WARNING I loved Deadwood up to the last two episodes. The ending of a story is the most important element and this ending soured the entire Deadwood experience for me. The entire third season built up to a grand confrontation which never happened. The series just sputtered out with the main characters, both noble and corrupt, basically giving in. As Seth Bullock said in the last episode "I did nothing." Neither did anyone else, including the writers. Sorry folks, the ending was depressing and disappointing. Though one of the third season episodes has the greatest bare handed street brawl ever filmed.
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on July 9, 2016
I finished all three seasons and would give it a neutral rating if i could . The nudity, bad and naughty language is not the important issue compared to the taking of life the "good guys" and "bad guys" felt they had to do to further their causes. Too Many murder scenes i cannot say is "Okay" but Hollywood likes to try to "shock" the audience.
Defending one self with killing is one thing but killing someone when the situation has nothing to do with defending oneself is disturbing.
No minors of course around when i viewed Deadwood.
Hollywood sometimes likes to "shock" the viewer and sometimes goes too far with it and mature audience knows this and can keep it in perspective hopefully.
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on January 31, 2016
The one thing about Deadwood is that it never fails to please. While Season 3 differs from 1 and 2 in that it centers primarily with George Hurst (Gerald McRaney).

Hurst comes to Deadwood after Mr. Garrett's claim hits a motherlode and dies from Dan pushing him off a ledge. The season centers in Hurst's interruption of the camp and day to day operations. Swearengen (Ian McShane) and Bullock (Timothy Olyphant) become unlikely allies. Together they attempt to thawart Hurst's play against Alma's claim.

The season ends, sadly, with Hurst getting his way. Rumor in 2016 speculates that a film or another series of episode will be produced to actually wrap up the program in a more tidy way.
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