HBO’s series Deadwood is now available on DVD. The first season is set in 1876 at the camp of Deadwood, situated in the Black Hills region of what is today South Dakota. The camp is a true depiction of corruption, lawlessness and America’s self-discovery as a people. Everyone from around America hopes to cash in on the gold craze, but comes to know that all that glitters isn’t really gold.
The series is a treat not only for western fans but for history buffs, too, as it combines historical instances and characters with fictional ones. Authenticity isn’t something that is drowned for the sake of a good story in Deadwood; rather it makes a good story. The historical characters represented here include the who’s who of the Wild West, from Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane to George Hurst (William Randolph Hurst’s father). If you’re unfamiliar with these names, then getting to know them will prove to be an interesting watch.
The language of the film stands out, with its distinct western twang, complete with character soliloquies. David Milch, the creator of the show (co-creator of NYPB Blue and writer of Hill Street Blues) emphasises that this show isn’t simply about the West, or how the West was won; it’s about how America as a nation came to be. — Mehboob Siddiqi
(Originally appeared in the June 4th, 2006 edition of DAWN Images)