HBO’s sweariest series, Deadwood, returns with a 13-year delayed finale on Monday night and, much like the story itself, a community is coming together.
Deadwood: The Movie is expected to finally offer some closure to the Shakespearean western set during the South Dakota gold rush, with production unexpectedly shut down in 2006 after three seasons and 36 episodes.
HBO left Deadwood with blood on the floor, numerous loose ends, portents of fire and a seemingly random arc about a mostly insufferable theatrical troupe.
As executives dithered over a shortened fourth season and then two telemovies that never eventuated, the attitude of HBO to fans all but echoed the final words of saloon owner and chief protagonist Al Swearengen (Ian McShane) – “He wants me to tell him something pretty”.
In the decade since, the fans and cast have bemoaned what was left unsaid – many charting their lives and times with creator David Milch’s multi-layered storylines and characters.
That this movie arrives so soon after Milch revealed he is suffering from Alzheimer’s has given added emotional heft to proceedings, the passing of time in Deadwood also bringing its characters closer to the brink.
In the interval, a small but hardy band of Deadwood enthusiasts have kept the flame alive with memes, schemes and dreams of a satisfying conclusion.
Expect sales of canned peaches to soar, given Milch’s defining civilising ritual was town meetings where the fruit was served – albeit without unauthorised cinnamon.
William Earl Brown, who played Al’s enforcer Dan Dority, has been one of the cast members most active on social media in keeping the fire burning.
Returning for the movie, Brown detailed the emotions on set as the ensemble cast returned having established successful acting careers on the back of Deadwood’s acknowledged brilliance.
Brown also detailed on Twitter his emotions when bingeing on the series in the lead up to the movie.
Everybody invested a piece of their soul in this. And it’s the same thing with the viewership,” he told Rolling Stone. “It’s not something you can passively watch.
That’s why it’s always been fun encountering Deadwood fans, because they don’t wanna talk about show business. They wanna talk about the story, the interplay of the characters.
“So, just as in the same way that you can’t passively watch it, you can’t just clock in, go to work and say your lines.
“The show didn’t end, it stopped. And that was an impossible pill to swallow. I’m not the Lone Ranger in this. We all feel the same way.”
The Deadwood movie picks up 10 years after the events of season three where a sacrificial act managed to see off uncompromisingly evil mining magnate George Hearst (Gerald McRaney).
Returning to Deadwood as an even more powerful senator, Hearst renews hostilities and looks to settle old scores.
The movie debuted on US TV on May 31 and has garnered a 97 per cent rating from 33 reviews on RottenTomatoes.com, with most critics calling it a fitting finale to Deadwood‘s long hiatus.
There were also effusive reviews of the movie on social media, with some contrasting Deadwood‘s ultimate ending with the much-criticised last few instalments of Game of Thrones.