Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Endings and beginnings, again

So, that Deadwood finale. Since the deal for the supposed two movies has yet to be set, that may be the last we see of the swearing-est town in the West. Kind of a bummer. Emory was pretty incensed at the finale, and the season as a whole, and Alan seems to be pretty much on track with that. Me, I didn't mind it so much. The show as a whole is about the town itself, and its evolution from lawlessness to civilization. Al and Alma's actions in the final episode are all conducted in the name of saving the camp from destruction. Sure, Al could have had a gigantic war with Hearst, and Alma could have held out, but that would have been the end of the camp. Sure, a giant gunfight would have been cool, but it's really not that kind of show. After all, last season ended with a wedding and a contract-signing. And poor Cy spent another season on the sidelines, but the character acknowledged his own impotence, growing more beligerent towards the few characters that would remain with him, finally culminating in killing Leon since he can't find it in himself to kill Hearst. Cy's the one who gives up this season, not Al.

Which isn't to say the season was above reproach. Brian Cox's presence is always, always welcome, and his scenes with Al were wonderful, but all the other theater troupe scenes went nowhere, particularly that last-minute bit with the two women at Amateur Night. Guess we'll never know what was going on there. The subplot with Aunt Lou and her son was another non-starter, the only point to it apparently being that Hearst is the world's biggest asshole. But since literally EVERY OTHER SCENE with Hearst all season was to prove he was the world's biggest asshole, it seemed like a dead end. And really, those Hearst scenes were a might repetitive right? Remember early on Hearst had that awesome speech where he says the only company he should keep are black people and "whites who obey [him] like dogs" and that was so chilling and awesome? Almost that exact scene happens like three more times before the finale. Kudos to Gerald McRaney for selling the shit out of it every time, but there's only so much the man could do.

I'd be curious to see this season again, knowing how it ends. With the tension broken it might be easier to see what Milch was up to with some of those sub-plots, and some of the thematic material might be clearer. Or it might just be a total slog. I'm in the midst of re-watching the second season of The Wire, and it plays much better the second time, but there's no denying that most of the port workers sub-plots aren't important. And their scenes in the bar can't possibly fill the void of D'Angelo's great bits with his crew in season one. But there's still tons of strong material, and a few characters really stand out, like Frank Sobatka and Beadie Russell (Russell's transformation from coasting through life to Real Police is the season's most satisfying character arc, plus Amy Ryan is a-dor-a-ble). So maybe another look at Deadwood will work out. Then again, I've yet to bite the bullet and give Buffy season 7 another crack. Speaking of anti-climax...

It's appropriate that The Wire replaces Deadwood this time around, since Deadwood is about a civilization on the rise and The Wire charts a civilization on the decline. And there's your Deadwood/West Baltimore comparison for the day. And that's the last I'll mention The Wire until the premiere on the 10th.

Ha! You KNOW that's bullshit.


Blogger Alan said...

That's an interesting point you make about Deadwood's heart being the camp's evolution towards respected society. And a good one, at that. My gripe, however, is that every single bit of intrigue the show throws at you has little to do, in the immediate sense, with the camp's welfare and everything to do with the tension between characters. Milch et al were always threatening to portray something really exciting with these characters, something that the viewer could attach themselves to and say, "Yes! I'm glad I took the journey!" So when the finale fizzles the way it does, you can't help but feel that while it is interesting how the camp has matured into a proper society (or approximate to that), you don't really care. It's thought-provoking, for sure, but wholly unsatisfying.

Can't take away a damn thing from the performances, though. Top notch for the entirety of the series.

4:30 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

In general I think that Deadwood, The Wire, and The Soprano's are interesting thematic companion pieces. All three mostly seem to view the American experience as one of hypocrisy and corruption. I will be curious to see if HBO replaces Sopranos and Deadwood with shows that are equally as cynical.

4:32 PM  

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