'Deadwood - The Complete Third Season'
(Ian McShane, Timothy Olyphant, et al / 6-Disc DVD / R / (2006) 2007 / HBO Video)
Overview: The final complete season of HBO's remarkable Deadwood series is full of surprises and devastating experiences as the nascent, dangerous town prepares to join Dakota territory in 1877. As in the previous two seasons, the question of who will control the town's resources, assets, and people drives much of the drama, affecting all manner of relationships and alliances, often between the most unlikely people. The dominant storyline in Deadwood: The Complete Third Season concerns upcoming elections for mayor and sheriff of the mucky, gold-mining town.
DVD Verdict: "Deadwood" either is your cup of tea or isn't, and if it isn't, then you probably have no business even considering purchasing 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! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Deadwood Matures - Historical Featurette
The Education of Swearegen and Bullock - The making of a Remarkable Relationship
4 Audio Commmentaries - With Series Creator David Milch, Executive producers Gregg Fienberg and Mark Tinker, and stars Jim Beaver, sean Bridgers, W. Earl Brown, and Robin Weigert
Deadwood Dagerreotypes - Photo Gallery of Historic Deadwood