Inside Pulse DVD Review – Deadwood: The Complete Second Season


Timothy Olyphant….Seth Bullock
Ian McShane….Al Swearengen
Molly Parker….Alma Garret
Jim Beaver….Whitney Ellsworth
W. Earl Brown…. Dan Dority
Kim Dickens….Joanie Stubbs
Brad Dourif….Doc Cochran
Anna Gunn…. Martha Bullock
Chase Ellison…. Richie
John Hawkes….Sol Star
Jeffrey Jones…. A. W. Merrick
Robin Weigert….Calamity Jane
Paula Malcomson….Trixie
Leon Rippy….Tom Nuttal
William Sanderson….E.B. Farnum
Dayton Callie…. Charlie Utter
Powers Boothe….Cy Tolliver

The Show

David Milch has managed to re-create Deadwood, South Dakota in the 1870s-1880s so vividly he deserves praise. The second season of Deadwood further delves into the lives of the citizens of the frontier town. The back story of the whole series revolves around the transformation of the town of Deadwood from a unruly mining settlement to a “proper” American settlement. One of the most interesting themes that really evolved in the second season was that of “big business.”

George Hurst (Gerald McRaney) comes to Deadwood, his company already having made his presence known by purchasing the gold mining rights from most of the smaller claim owners. Hurst’s goal is to own every claim in the area, anything less will be unsuitable. Hurst and his company represent big business that kick out the little guy. His company can mine more efficiently, cheaply and has the money behind it to buy others out (think Microsoft or Wal-Mart). Unlike Bill Gates though Hurst will use brutal force to get what he wants.

Another major story arc of the second season revolves around Deadwood becoming part of the Dakota Territory and establishing a proper local government. The unwritten autocrat of the town Al Swearengen, masterfully played by Ian McShane, manipulates all sides to ensure his own survival and prosperity will not be negatively impacted by the impending events of Deadwood falling under the purview of the Dakota government.

I could write about which of the 12 episodes was the best, which ones the most memorable but Deadwood can’t be looked at as 12 singular episodes but rather as one whole entity. For that reason watching Deadwood on DVD makes the experience all the much better. You can watch the show at your pace and not have to wait for a week to see the next week’s episode.

Milch has created a wealth of characters in the ensemble cast. From the lawman Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant) who at times seems to commit more crimes than anyone else in the town, to the quietly dignified Ellsworth (Jim Beaver) who marries Alma Garrett (Molly Parker) to save her honour despite the fact he knows she is in love with Bullock, and carrying his child. Each character is given their own unique story and whether they get 30 minutes an episode on screen or 30 seconds they each evolve and grow as the series grows.

Season two of Deadwood is an achievement for Milch, all his writers and producers, all the cast and crew should be proud of. Now if only HBO didn’t have its head up its arse.

Score: 10/10

The Video

Presented in a 16:9 aspect ration the video is perfectly used to show the town of Deadwood and its mood.

The Audio

The audio options are very solid with English 5.1, English 2.0 surround, French 2.0 and Spanish 2.0 available. There are also subtitles for English, French and Spanish. So wherever one is in North American they can enjoy Deadwood in whatever way they want.

The Extras

Deadwood offers a full disc of extras along with six episodes that have audio commentary, note three of the episodes have two separate different audio commentaries. Among the extras themselves all of them are well chosen and further add to the enjoyment and understanding of Deadwood. The Real Deadwood: 1877 is a historical featurette that gives an insight into what the town of Deadwood was like during the time the show is set. Local historians explore and advance the themes brought up by the show. This is a great tool as it allows viewers to get more understanding of what was going on in the town that Milch cannot really get into without making the show redundant or historical documentary. Making of Season Two: Finale is pretty much what you would guess from the title. It is very interesting to see Milch and his writing crew in action. My favourite of all the extras are Mr. Wu Proves Out, which deals with one of the best character’s in the show, Mr. Wu, and his confrontation with his rival. You get to see Milch’s thought process and the actors involved in the scene are really frank about their characters, how they see themselves and Milch as a boss. All in all the extras are top notch.

Score: 9/10

InsidePulse’s Ratings for Deadwood Season 2
(OUT OF 10)