My latest TV project has been catching up on the critically acclaimed Deadwood from HBO. The show’s creator, David Milch, is back in the news because he’s returned to HBO with a new series, Luck. Deadwood aired from 2004 to 2006, good for three seasons of material. After two more episodes, I will have seen the entire series. It was cut short, cancelled before its time was up without any real resolution. It’s quite a shame, because it’s been a really good show. Milch did a great deal of research to find out the actual facts of Deadwood, South Dakota circa 1877. And this painstaking research helped him bring larger-than-life characters like “Wild Bill” Hickok, “Calamity Jane” Cannary, the Earp brothers, and Al Swearengen most of all to life. The biggest reason it earned so much critical acclaim was the show’s dialogue. Milch and his writers imported Shakespearean language and devices into the American Wild West. But it was all sandwiched around some of the most delightfully vulgar language you’ll ever hear on a TV show. I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit. But the more I’ve watched it, the more it’s become woefully obvious why HBO cancelled it after just three seasons. I think it can best be described using a Venn diagram:
I should probably clarify here that they don’t technically employ iambic pentameter. But there are tons of soliloquies, and everything about the show carries the air of Shakespeare.