Deadwood: Season 2
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Deadwood: The Complete Second Season (DVD)
1877. A new day is dawning in the Black Hills outlaw camp of Deadwood. For better or worse, times are changing, and the transformation from camp to town is imminent. Unsavory new arrivals - looking to cash in on the lucrative anarchy -- and a government of outsiders usher in an era of hard decisions and brutal power struggles among the camp's founders, all learning the hard way...fortune comes with a price.]]>
Deadwood: The Complete Second Season continues the Shakespearean brilliance of the landmark first season, created by NYPD Blue head writer David Milch. Milch either wrote or supervised the writing of each of the 12 episodes in this stunning follow-up, which contains more than a few surprises for anyone who thought they knew the myriad characters in the late 19th century town of Deadwood--a mucky, ungoverned, exceptionally violent development in South Dakota. As with the first season, Deadwood continues to be about many things--survival, loyalty, alliances, duty--but all of them are happening against a titanic battle between several parties to consolidate power and real wealth in the territory. Despite his cutthroat ethics, astonishing profanity, and bursts of cruelty, it's hard not to side in this bid for a piece of America's future with saloon owner Al Swearengen (a magnificent performance by Ian McShane), a visionary monster who is nevertheless more recognizably human than his rivals.
Entering an uneasy partnership with Al is Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant). Seth begins the second season by teaching Al a few lessons in chivalry, and their brief but bloody feud commences physical ailments for Al that become increasingly shocking to behold. Yet Al's difficulties have the practical effect of sidelining him for a couple of episodes while the story sets up more complex power struggles. Al takes on Deadwood's other saloon-brothel owner, the unstable Cy Tolliver (Powers Boothe), as well as an off-screen millionaire who is intent on owning all the gold-mining interests by buying out weary prospectors' claims. Meanwhile, Seth's wife and son (actually, his late brother's widow and child) arrive, an unsettling development for Seth's lover, the widow Alma Garret (Molly Parker), who soon reveals herself to be a more complicated person than in the first season. The prostitute Trixie (Paula Malcomson) begins thinking about her future and asserts independence from Al by having sex with Seth's friend, Sol Star (John Hawkes). Best of all, Calamity Jane (Robin Weigert) is back and more endearingly uncivilized than ever. Special features include actor commentaries on select episodes, the best of which finds Olyphant and McShane cracking each other up while watching the season premiere. --Tom Keogh
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Timothy Olyphant plays a very believable character in Seth Bullock. He's a former lawman who has headed west with his partner Sol Star (John Hawkes) who end up matching wits with or occasionally colluding with Al Swearengen (Ian McShane). Love interests abound with Alma Garret (the lovely Molly Parker), the rich widow with a claim of some of the best producing ground in Deadwood. Trixie (Paula Malcomson), plays the ever present 'hooker with the heart of gold'. She and Sol ended up in some very interesting situations and conversations.
Deadwood portrays the area as accurately as possible. They neither pull puncher nor sugar coat the world that was. It's a helluva story.
One of my favorite things about this show is there are no pure "white hat" good guys, instead everyone has his or her flaws. There are, however, a couple of characters that are almost pure evil. Some of the more cutthroat characters turn out over time to have redeeming qualities after all.
My only criticism of the show is the overuse of profanity. I don't object to the use of expletives, but this show takes it to the extreme, to the point where it becomes almost comical, and definitely distracts from the story. There's a lot of gruesome violence too, but that seems to fit better with the overall story.
I would give this five stars, but it really is hot with profanity and violence, and some might be horrified. Consider yourself warned...