Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
How Did Nicole Kidman's 'Grace of Monaco' Go From Cannes Opener to Lifetime Movie? The Movie's Writer Tweets All How Did Nicole Kidman's 'Grace of Monaco' Go From Cannes Opener to Lifetime Movie? The Movie's Writer Tweets All A.O. Scott on Why the New York Times Changed Its Review Policy A.O. Scott on Why the New York Times Changed Its Review Policy The Best Films of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival According to Criticwire The Best Films of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival According to Criticwire The Top-Rated Movies of 2015 So Far: Literary Stories and New Genre Favorites The Top-Rated Movies of 2015 So Far: Literary Stories and New Genre Favorites 'Aloha,' With Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone: Cameron Crowe's Worst Movie, or Just One of His Worst? 'Aloha,' With Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone: Cameron Crowe's Worst Movie, or Just One of His Worst? First Cannes Reviews: Hou Hsiao-Hsien's "The Assassin" First Cannes Reviews: Hou Hsiao-Hsien's "The Assassin" First Cannes Reviews: Gaspar Noé's 'Love,' A 3D Art-Porn Mashup First Cannes Reviews: Gaspar Noé's 'Love,' A 3D Art-Porn Mashup First Reviews: Netflix Series 'Sense8' Goes 'Full Wachowski' First Reviews: Netflix Series 'Sense8' Goes 'Full Wachowski' Daily Reads: Why Critics Don't Have to Review 'Game of Thrones,' The Clash of Action in 'Avengers' and 'Mad Max,' and More Daily Reads: Why Critics Don't Have to Review 'Game of Thrones,' The Clash of Action in 'Avengers' and 'Mad Max,' and More The New York Times Is No Longer Reviewing Every Movie That Opens in New York The New York Times Is No Longer Reviewing Every Movie That Opens in New York Meditations on a Mad Man Meditations on a Mad Man Every Shot From David Letterman's 'Late Show' Farewell Montage Every Shot From David Letterman's 'Late Show' Farewell Montage 'San Andreas' Turns 9/11's Tragedy Into Pure Corn 'San Andreas' Turns 9/11's Tragedy Into Pure Corn The Mary Sue Freezes Out 'Game of Thrones' to Protest Yet Another Rape Scene The Mary Sue Freezes Out 'Game of Thrones' to Protest Yet Another Rape Scene Daily Reads: The Secret History of Ultimate Marvel, Why Your Favorite TV Show Was Cancelled, and More Daily Reads: The Secret History of Ultimate Marvel, Why Your Favorite TV Show Was Cancelled, and More What Critics Are Saying About David Letterman's Final 'Late Show' Episode What Critics Are Saying About David Letterman's Final 'Late Show' Episode Daily Reads: Why No One Remembers "Avatar," the Best Blu-rays and DVDs of 2014, and more Daily Reads: Why No One Remembers "Avatar," the Best Blu-rays and DVDs of 2014, and more First Cannes Reviews: Todd Haynes' "Carol" First Cannes Reviews: Todd Haynes' "Carol" The Children's Book from 'The Babadook' Will Terrify You in the Real World The Children's Book from 'The Babadook' Will Terrify You in the Real World Daily Reads: 'San Andreas' and the Art of Destroying L.A., Why Ferris Bueller is the Real Villain of his Day Off, and More Daily Reads: 'San Andreas' and the Art of Destroying L.A., Why Ferris Bueller is the Real Villain of his Day Off, and More

"Deadwood" at 10: Still Ahead of Its Time

Photo of Sam Adams By Sam Adams | Criticwire March 11, 2014 at 10:29AM

Looking back on the profanely great series, and what its premature ending says about the state of TV today.
3
Deadwood

Ten years after its premiere, fans still mourn the premature end of "Deadwood," David Milch's profane, sprawling ode to the rise of a South Dakota gold-mining town. Matt Zoller Seitz's video essay, "A Lie Agreed Upon," won't bring the show back, and though hopes perennially surface, the chances of it being revived in any format are virtually nil; even Milch himself is resigned to its end.  But it serves as a thorough, bittersweet overview of the show's greatness, and a reminder that for all the strides that have been made since, TV still remains a frustrating and limited medium. The fact that Milch, whose pilot, "Money," HBO recently declined to send to series, hasn't been able to keep a show on the air for more than 10 episodes since 2006 says much worse things about the industry he works in than it does about him.

Written by Seitz and edited by his frequent collaborator Steven Santos (whose like-minded video essay on Robert Altman's "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" is at the end of this post), "A Lie Agreed Upon" is narrated by Jim Beaver, who played the show's veteran prospector, Ellsworth, and has also been a frequent presence in comments threads for articles about the show. The show, he says, was about "a whole heck of a lot of things in no particular oder, and it's that 'in no particular order' part that makes it so rich," but he gets to the heart of it when he identifies the core theme as "the story of civilization, American and otherwise." 

Watching Gerald McRaney's performance as the ruthless, powerful George Hearst -- whose son, newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst, would serve as the model for another great story of the corruptions of power, "Citizen Kane" -- it's hard not to see his similar character on "House of Cards" as a pallid reflection, which extends to the relationship between the shows as a whole. It's hard to imagine a more bleak or corrosive portrait of the foundations of American society, but "Deadwood" still finds light in the darkness, and in a manner far less trite and forced than the hug-it-out conclusion of "True Detective." (For all Nic Pizzolatto's rationalizations about the difficulties of creating fleshed-out female characters in a story about a male-dominated world, "Deadwood" managed it a heck of a lot better.") Now that Seitz is nearing the end of the promotional cycle for "The Wes Anderson Collection," maybe a "Deadwood" book is next?


E-Mail Updates



Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome