Deadwood: Season 2
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
First a review on the 2nd season of Deadwood, then my comments on the bizarre treatment of this show by HBO and possibly it's creator David Milch.

While the 1st season of Deadwood was almost unwatchable to some due to the constant profanity, it was hands-down in my opinion the best show on T.V. in gritty realism, set-design, writing, acting and re-watchability. You could watch the same episode for the 4th time and still catch something new. The dialogue was brilliant.

The 2nd season was just as compelling as the first (although a tad weaker) and it brought character development to a new height, introduced some brilliant new characters, and never lost its stride. Again highly re-watchable which makes it a nice DVD to own.

Now on to the strange behavior of HBO and David Milch. I just read that HBO released the contracts on the cast members of Deadwood allowing them to pursue other projects and hints at the fact that Deadwood may be dead no 4th season. Also, in the same news story it hinted at a new HBO series by David Milch about surfing culture. In addition, was I the only one who seemed to notice that HBO was ignoring Deadwood earlier this year in the news, on its website, and even within its marketing deparment. I mean The first trailer for season 3 appeared only last week! On top of all that, everyone knows that Summer is the Television graveyard and even though Big Love needed a strong kickoff behind Saprano's, exiling Deadwood to June makes me question HBO's sanity. To sum it all up, when after Saprano's sleeps with the fishes next year, Deadwood will be its highest rated show and HBO and Milch may cancel it.

Has HBO lost its mind? Has Milch lost interest in 1870's South Dakota? IS this all a marketing ploy? Am I being paranoid?

I was the first in line to send feedback to HBO stating SAVE DEADWOOD! Lets hope I'm not the only one.
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117 of 130 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2006
Deadwood is perhaps the best show HBO has made, and that's saying something. There is no other TV show, barring perhaps 'The Wire', which is written with such a keen ear for dialogue and with such fleshed out characters. Season 2 is just as good, if not better, than the first series. It moves with slightly more pace and some of the more interesting characters, such as Cy Tolliver and Alma Garrett, are explored in greater depth. Tolliver - played by the incredible Powers Boothe - truly becomes a force to be reckoned with in this second series. The powerplays between him and Al Swearengen make for some of the most interesting television one could hope to see.

Among other things, we see in season two the return of Bullock's wife and son; the softer side of Al Swearengen; a sadistic geologist with a keen eye for gold; and blood-letting between Mr. Wu and a chinese rival from San Francisco. Throughout, we are treated to a healthy dose of Deadwood's trademark violence and profanity, the latter of which rolls of the tongue with surprising eloquence. Swearengen makes certain curse words sound as if they are as natural as 'if', 'and' or 'but'.

Ultimately, the most outstanding features of this series are the following:

1) Al Swearengen - again, as in the first series, Ian McShane is amazing.

2) Cy Tolliver - Powers Boothe devours every scene he's in.

3) Seth Bullock - Timothy Olyphant's sheriff walks the streets of Deadwood like a cauldron about to teem with furious anger. The addition of his wife and son, and his illicit affair with Alma Garrett, add further tension.

Pick up series two when it comes out. Strangely, it's already out here in Australia!
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52 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2006
As with my review of the first season (which can be seen by clicking "See all my reviews" directly above this) I'm not going to comment on the acting, the story or anything of that sort. Again, I gave it a five star rating, and that should imply my opinion well enough.

This time around I want to comment on the delay of the DVD release and the price of the set.

The delay, while unfortunate, is actually a good thing. The third season of Deadwood was originally set to air concurrently with the sixth season of The Sopranos. However, after HBO executives saw the first half of the third season, they felt the show had sufficient strength to not need to piggyback on the ratings of The Sopranos. So Deadwood and Big Love switched time slots, with Deadwood moving to this summer. So Deadwood is no longer The Sopranos' little brother. This shows the confidence that HBO has in the show, and that means the show isn't going away any time soon.

As for the price of the set, keep in mind that HBO is a subscription based network -- meaning they don't make any money from advertising or product placement, which is what pays for most programming on network television (thus the need to charge more than other networks for the DVD releases of their shows).

HBO has something like 25-50 million subscribers, I believe, so most of the country hasn't seen a single episode of the season when it comes out on DVD. Compare that to shows like Law & Order, 24, and Desperate Housewives which are free to anyone with a TV, so anyone interested in those shows has probably already seen at least half of the season by the time the DVD comes out.

I don't know specific numbers for Deadwood, or any of the other shows that I mentioned, but I do know that HBO spent approximately $4 million per episode of Carnivale, which, while a great show, never had anywhere near the popularity that Deadwood has.

So, yes, the set costs a bit of money. And, yes, we did have to wait a little longer for the set than most of us would have liked. But any comments about greed are unfounded.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2006
Despite a barrage of profanity in every episode, the script of Deadwood represents the best writing in television bar-none. The characters are brilliantly developed by the show's writer, David Milch (of Hill Street Blues fame). I eagerly await the third season's debut in June, but will also add the 2nd season DVD to my collection (which already includes Season 1) as soon as it is released in May. This show is a masterful combination of fact-based drama(ableit not a "true story"), and brilliant acting from the cast including Ian McShane, Powers Boothe, William Sanderson, W. Earl Brown, and others. As you watch this show for the first time, be reminded the profanity is there to add authenticity from the period. In my opinion, Deadwood is one of the best series ever created for television. Enjoy!
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2006
Why did HBO cancel "Deadwood" before David Milch could finish his beautiful story? It's the second-highest-rated of all HBO's "Quality Programming" hour-long dramas, and deservedly does very well in DVD sales. I personally have bought several DVD sets for myself, my family, and friends.

This show's fans (myself included) are rabidly passionate about it, and grateful for every word, every scene, every episode we've been blessed with so far. "Deadwood" is delicious and disturbing, the way great art always is, and we all hoped it would go on forever. So, of course, we were disappointed when HBO and Mr. Milch discussed ending the series after only four seasons. But it was creator Milch's choice, and his decision to make.

So what happened? Why isn't Mr. Milch going to be allowed to finish his masterpiece? Can you find out for us?

Many of us fans are so angry and disgusted that we have decided to cancel our HBO subscriptions after the third season. This is what you do when you feel personally betrayed by a trusted resource. There is also talk about organizing a "National Cancel HBO Day" to be held at the end of Season Three ... and it's a movement that seems to be gaining support.

Recently, someone at the HBO Community Board established a website as a clearinghouse for ideas. It's at [...] and it's for folks who want to help in a massive grass-roots effort to bring HBO back to its senses, to its long-held mission, and to its loyal fan base.

It's time to make a few demands of HBO.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
As the second season of David Milch's Deadwood opens, we are given a glance at all the major characters. Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant) is now the sheriff of the lawless town, and Al Swearengen (Ian McShane) continues to have his firm grip on the town. Leading up to an inevitable knock down, drag out showdown between the two, the stage is set for this excellent second season of one of the best shows HBO has ever conjured up. There's a number of sub-plots throughout the season, including Bullock's affair with Alma (Molly Parker) getting further complicated when his estranged wife comes to town, as well as Swearengen's failing health, and Cy's (Powers Boothe) ulterior motives that always feature an ace up his sleeve. There's a newcomer to the town as well, who has some ulterior motives of his own, and enjoys murdering prostitutes. The Doc (Brad Dourif), E.B. (Will Sanderson), and Calamity Jane (Robin Weigert) are all here in fine form as well. The performances from everyone involved are once again great, and McShane is his usual excellent, award winning self as one of the most engaging television villains of all time. As expected by anyone who viewed and enjoyed the first season, the second season of Deadwood is every bit as violent and gritty as one could expect. Those who have been giving the series one star reviews are constantly bringing up the fact of the constant swearing throughout every episode. It's true, it can get overdone and redundant, but this is the old West after all, and when every day is a battle for survival, you're bound to swear a lot for one reason or another. That rant aside, Deadwood is still an excellent show, and by the time the credits roll at the conclusion of the season finale, you'll be begging for more.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2006
Season Two shifts the "Deadwood" motor into a somewhat different gear.

It moves slowly at first -- so slowly that I nearly cried "sophomore slump" and gave up on it. But before I realized it, by about the fourth episode, the show was achieving and in some ways eclipsing the heights of the first season.

In this second installment, the town is growing, attracting more and more attention from the government and from the diabolically pragmatic prospector George Hearst. The characters, demonstrating a variation on "nobody beats up my brother but me," begin to bond together in a reassuring way, and it's amusing to see Bullock and Swearengen (who nearly beat each other to death in episode one) form a strange kind of bond by the end.

But don't foster any illusions that "Deadwood" gets warm and snuggly in its second season. If anything, the depiction of corruption and just plain old ickiness is even more pronounced. A running plot about Swearengen's agonized attempts to pass a kidney stone is one of the most excruciating situations I've ever seen depicted in series television; and in a weird way it's also one of the funniest.

This is a show that's built solidly on its ensemble and there are so many great character actors (playing great characters) that it's hard to know where to start. Everybody's uniformly convincing and unique.

If I had to pick two of the supporting cast, though, I'd start with Garret Dillahunt, who plays Wolcott, Hearst's geologist who brings to town both "corporate" corruption and his own psychotic tendencies. It's ironic that Dillahunt later played a stoner Jesus on the now-cancelled "The Book of Daniel," because here he's basically the devil. His Wolcott is a cold, chilling, self-accepting performance that would've been astonishing even if Dillahunt hadn't earlier played a completely different kind of character on the show -- he was Jack McCall, who killed Bill in the first season -- but is completely unrecognizable in the new role.

Robin Weigert -- wriggling deeper into the character of the endlessly irritable, perpetually inebriated Calamity Jane -- is also pretty amazing. I don't think she gets as much credit as she should, probably because what she's doing is so assured it almost doesn't seem like acting. Her quirks and personality as so well defined by Weigert, and so strangely endearing, that I think she fools viewers into thinking what she's doing is easy, but it can't possibly be.

But the undeniable hub of the show is Ian McShane as Swearengen, who channels both Snidely Whiplash and Orson Welles and makes a complete [...] somehow likeable; and the rich, complex writing and plotting, which show no signs of flagging --the season finale, for example, pays off like a slot machine in its final moments and is one of my favorite episodes of TV, ever.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2006
Unparalleled writing, set design, costume and acting make Deadwood the greatest show on television currently and one of the best in history. Well fleshed out characters and multiple intertwining plot lines leave you on the edge of your seat wanting to see what happens next. Deadwood as a series is nothing less than genius and I can not wait until season three starts in June. Highly recommended.
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50 of 64 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 18, 2006
Deadwood is one of my favorite shows to watch because it has the most interesting characters. Ian McShane is great as Al Swearengen, the owner of the Gem Saloon. Deadwood is a great show because the whole idea of seeing what one of the towns on the Sioux territories would behave with very little law enforcement. It is one of the most accurate historical shows I have ever watched and even though there is a lot of profanity, it is still great. What I love about Deadwood is that you can really see how much the characters have changed from episode one to episode twelve of this season. It stinks that there are only twelve episodes but they are better than most twenty-two episode shows.

If you are familiar with the way HBO makes their series, then Deadwood may be the right show for you. It may be the best HBO drama ever and it has one of the best casts of any show on TV now. I highly recommend this season of Deadwood it is even better than the first.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
With the third season of "Deadwood" being the last let's hope that creator/writer/producer/director David Milch can tie up all the loose ends to the series that he set up during season two. The second season of "Deadwood" starts with a tussle--Sheriff Seth Bollock (Timothy Olyphant) takes on Al Swearengen (Ian McShane) in a nasty, bloody fight when Swearengen insults Alma Garret (Molly Parker) in front of the residents of the town. Bollock's affair with Garret takes an unexpected turn when Bollock's wife (also the widow of his brother)and step son(also his nephew) arrive in town unexpectantly. Cy Tolliver (Powers Boothe) and Al increasingly come into conflict over their rival whorehouse business and a sociopath, ruthless mining agent (Garret Dillahunt) who works for George Hearst changes the life of whorehouse owners Maddie (Alice Krige) and Joanie (Kim Dickens) when he begins frequenting their business.

All of this happens in just the first episode of season two! Things will get worse before they get better for most of the residents of Deadwood as prospectors continue to pour into the mineral rich town.

Once again dominated by marvelous, stunning performances particularly from McShane, Olyphant, Boothe, Robin Weigert (as Calamity Jane) and Paula Malcomson (Trixie) the second season of "Deadwood" lacks the shock value of the first but the plotting, direction and writing are equally as good with sharper character development for the main characters. There isn't a weak link in this stunning cast (I mentioned the above members of the cast only because they had more than one stand out episode) and "Deadwood" is what "The Sopranos" used to be--cutting edge TV without regrets. David Milch's combination of drama and history is stunning looking with its rich production design and authentic characterizations.

A truly stunning transfer "Deadwood" is easily a DVD reference standard with deep, rich blacks almost nonexistent digital artifacts and rich, deep colors that capture the authentic rustic look of the show. The 5.1 soundtrack makes excellent use of the surround channels and dialogue is crystal clear. Part of the quality is due to the fact there are never more than 3 episodes per disc allowing plenty of bit space for the visual and audio elements but that also contributes to the cost of the set as well. You're getting and paying for quality with these sets. There are chapter placements after the opening titles of each episode which is a big plus for those fans who want to skip ahead.

We get a number of commentary tracks from the actors and writer/producer David Milch and director-producer Greg Feinberg. Among the best commentary tracks is the one on "A Lie Agreed Upon Part I" with actors Ian McShane and timothy Olyphant. The two clearly enjoy each other's company and have an infectious blast discussing the making of the episode. Actresses Molly Parker and Anna Gunn provide a second commentary track on the same episode and while it isn't as fun as McShane and Olyphant it is full of insight about the show and the episode. The other highlight are the two commentary tracks on "The Whores Can Come" which features Olymphant paired with Gunn and McShane with Malcomson. It generates much of the same fun and informative atmosphere that dominates the commentaries on the opening episode. There are 7 other commentary tracks each quite good but none can really compare to these two. Even producer/writer David Milch's commentary lacks the firepower and fun atmosphere of these two commentary tracks with his being amount the least involving of the 9 included here.

The last disc like the first set has the featurettes. "The Real Deadwood 1977-Historical Featurette" is a companion piece to the first season featurette on the history of the town. We get a nice mix of historians, Milch and other production staff discussing the real vs. fictional world. "Making of Episode 12: Boy-the-Earth Talks-To" is a three part documentary about the making of the 12th episode of the season. "Trusting the Process with David Milch" allows us into the creative process as we watch Milch at work crafting the one of the episodes. "Mr. Wu Proves Out" details the subplot involving Wu and Swearengen and their complex relationship. "The Wedding Celebration" details the intricate planning that goes into the a wedding that is a highlight of the season finale. We also get a photo gallery of the characters and real Deadwood. There's also some HBO previews at the beginning of the first disc.

While the shock and uniqueness that highlighted the first season are gone the second season carries on with a series of brilliantly written and performed episodes. The characters are richer during the second season and the plot twists as convoluted as can be imagined making season two equally as good if not better than the first season of the show. The extras are generous given that this is a cable show being brought to DVD and the packaging/transfer is deluxe as well. Highly recommended.
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