‘Deadwood’ Rises From The Grave In Movie Form

Photo: HBO

The new Deadwood movie is not about if you can go home again, but should you? It’s been 12 years since HBO strung up David Milch’s revisionist Western series. Although Deadwood never got the ratings of The Sopranos or the hype of The Wire, critics still consider its abbreviated run as one of the great shows of the Golden Era of Peak TV despite never having a proper ending.

The beauty of Deadwood was that it traded bullets for barbs. Al Swearengen’s (played brilliantly by Ian McShane) staccato use of profanity was as lethal and entertaining as any gunfight at the O.K. Corral. But the story of the rise of the infamous South Dakota town during the 1870s got stuck in the same mud as its streets. The philosophical-based plot was plodding, the Shakespearean dialogue became self-indulgent, and fickle audiences wanted more action than words.

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While the meta-Western may have been running out of ammo, Deadwood did not get the resolution that it had earned. While we saw the good, bad, and ugly of humankind that it takes to create a town (read: civilization), we never got to see the eventual fall. In real life, Deadwood burned to the ground, which is reason enough for Milch to finish his story.

Milch has always felt that the big-budgeted show was taken from him rather ended on his own terms. He’s hinted as much in countless articles where he said that he had more story to tell if HBO was up for it. Well, a dozen years later, here we are.


Photo: HBO

On paper, the Deadwood movie looks like we may finally get the closure we want. Amazingly, the original cast is all back (including Timothy Olyphant as Sheriff Bullock, John Hawkes as Sol Starr, House of Cards‘ Molly Parker as the widowed Alma Ellsworth, and Big Little Lies‘ Robin Weigert as Calamity Jane Canary), minus Powers Boothe (Sin City) as Cy Tolliver. (Boothe passed away in 2017.)

Scheduled to premiere in the spring of 2019, the Deadwood movie is set in 1889 as the town prepares to celebrate South Dakota joining the Union as the 40th state. So a dramatized reunion to literally celebrate a reunion? That’s why they pay Milch the big bucks. Expect to see lots of verbal showdowns and a whole lot of swear words. To quote Deadwood’s foul-mouthed barkeep, “Perhaps the world ends when you’re dead. Until then, you got more punishment in store. Stand it like a man, and give some back.” 

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What do you think? Should ‘Deadwood’ remain buried? Or do you want to see Milch and company be given a proper chance to ride into the sunset? Leave your comments below.