The fires of Al: Brace yourself for the ‘Deadwood’ showdown


The fires of Al: Brace yourself for the ‘Deadwood’ showdown

The beloved TV show looks set to end, finally, in a movie

Tymon Smith

Back in the golden age of cable television, HBO held sway with four of the best shows in TV history: David Chase’s The Sopranos, Alan Ball’s Six Feet Under, David Simon’s The Wire and David Milch’s Deadwood. While the first three were allowed to finish their intended number of seasons, Deadwood, the revisionist Western tale of the violent Shakespearian tribulations of a small town in 1870s South Dakota, was cancelled after three seasons in 2006.While creator Milch would later claim that he knew the 36th episode of the show was its last when he was writing it, fans have been clamouring for over a decade for a proper ending for Milch’s most beloved creation – pimp philosopher Al Swearengen – and his comrades.
Milch, a mercurial and erratic figure, has stoked the fires over the years with claims that he had reached an agreement to produce a fourth season, a two-part TV movie finale, and a single film finale. Ian McShane, who played Swearengen in the series, further fueled the rumour mill last year when he claimed that Milch had handed a two-hour script for the film to HBO and that the ball was now in the channel’s court.
Last week HBO announced that after 12 years of waiting, fans can now look forward to the Deadwood movie, filmed from Milch’s script and directed by original series director Daniel Minahan, sometime in 2019. The question is will Milch’s script deliver the ending that the series deserves?Milch was once the golden boy of TV as a co-creator of NYPD Blue, and from 2004-2006 Deadwood cemented his reputation as a visionary writer with a unique ear for dialogue and a respect for detail that gave his shows a gritty, authentic edge.
Then he went on to create a bizarre and widely-slated surfing drama, John from Cincinnati, which was cancelled after one season, and the intriguing but short-lived horse racing drama Luck, which had to fold following too many animal deaths during its production. Since then Milch has been out of the TV game and in the news for his $17-million gambling debts.Several other shows from the golden age have been revived: Will & Grace, Twin Peaks, Roseanne, Gilmore Girls and Arrested Development. While some have had reasonable success in giving fans more of what they loved so much in the 1990s and 2000s, none of them (except perhaps Twin Peaks) have arrived with the same amount of expectation and demand for satisfactory closure as Deadwood.
With the film set to start shooting in October, you can be sure that rumours, revelations and expectations will run high until we all tune in and wait with bated breath for Al to let loose his first volley of “cocksuckers”.

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