Deadwood: The Complete Third Season – DVD Review

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David Milch


Timothy Olyphant Seth Bullock
Ian McShane Al Swearengen
Molly Parker Alma Garret
W. Earl Brown Dan Dority
Brad Dourif Doc Cochran
Jeffrey Jones A.W. Merrick
Powers Boothe Cy Tolliver
Bree Seanna Wall Sophia Metz
George Hearst Gerald McRaney

DVD Release Date: June 12, 2007
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 720 Minutes on 6 discs

The Show

Life in Deadwood has always been about control and power. The townspeople are all working together to build up everything and make it into a thriving city that is rich with businesses and homes. Power struggles over money, position, and land are the most common disagreements you’ll witness walking the dusty streets. But that certainly isn’t to say that an argument or two can’t break out over a bottle of whiskey or perhaps a certain lady paid to do a deed.

Things have been stressful but mostly remained the same over the first two seasons of Deadwood, but come the third and final season, everything is about to change. A new comer in town by the name of George Hearst is not like any other stranger. The moment he set foot into camp, his powerful influence was obvious and soon became well known among everyone. Hearst slowly began to infiltrate Deadwood more and more as money started to come his way and his men began trickling in a few at a time. Strength and numbers were needed and it all began with the town Sheriff Seth Bullock and the town boss Al Swearengen.

It really is a shame that this happened to be the final season of Deadwood because as interesting as things had been, we were finally in for a change. For so long the townspeople were at each other’s throats trying to get ahead, but the arrival of Hearst changed all that. The teaming up of Swearengen and Bullock against a common foe is absolutely brilliant. Later on as more join the ranks, it is a welcome change and complete 180 from previous seasons when these now comrades were once sworn enemies. Hearst does a magnificent job of always keeping his bearings about him though and proving a worthy adversary.

Deadwood is definitely not a show for children, the faint of heart, or those who are offended easily. The hardcore and roughshod life that was the Old West is truly portrayed in all of its vulgar glory. There is language so foul that it would make Andrew Dice Clay turn red in the face. Womanizing the likes of which you have never seen is displayed right before you. Greed, lust, envy, and every one of the seven deadly sins are portrayed in full view. And as shocking as it may be to some today; it was surely commonplace everyday back then. Deadwood shows a time when none of us were even thought of and gives us the life many of us actually dream of. Living off the land, making their own way, and taking what they wanted the true lifestyle of the Old West.


Disc One:

Tell Your God To Ready For Blood: The town of Deadwood is about to experience the first true elections for government officials (sheriff and mayor) and the candidates are going to present their sides to the people in hopes of winning their favor. George Hearst is new in town, but already his influence is working its way among the townspeople. Hearst has a proposition for Bullock and promises his backing to Bullock in the elections if Bullock will keep a “watchful eye” on certain areas of town. Meanwhile Star has acquired a new home thanks to Adams’ real estate deal and Alma starts experiencing strange complications in her pregnancy. Perhaps one of the best opening episodes to any season yet.

I Am Not The Fine Man You Take Me For: Doc Cochran tends to Alma who continues having problems in her pregnancy. Jane shares some stories from camp during her times of scouting for General Custer to the schoolchildren. Unfortunately she seems to have a larger audience then the electoral candidates which doesn’t fair well for future elections. Hearst begins to quietly threaten Swearengen and then starts laying down his intentions straight up as the Gem killings continue.

Disc Two:

True Colors: Hearst’s power truly begins to grow as the stagecoach brings a few new faces to town. First of all is Aunt Lou who is the longtime cook for Hearst. A theatre promoter and friend of Swearengen named John Langrishe also arrives and a returning Mr. Wu with an all new look. Mr. Wu has some bad news for Swearengen though as he lets it known that a big crew of Hearst’s workers is on the way. Hearst though continues his path to power after incidences with Alma and Tolliver, but that comes to a halt when Bullock finds a dirty secret. Even though there was a lot going on in this episode, it was also one of the better ones from this season.

Full Faith And Credit: John Langrishe looks into buying the Chez Ami so he can turn it into a theatre and try to have some culture in Deadwood. Bullock finds himself quite busy again as he must step in between an arriving Hostetler and Steve as they begin to fight over who owns the Livery. Alma is finally beginning to feel better from all her complications and makes the opening of the bank of Deadwood official.

Disc Three:

A Two-Headed Beast: Langrishe’s work on the theatre continues as he begins to put things into place for its opening and more from his group come to town. Dority and his old rival Captain Turner are at their boiling point one another and things take an ugly turn. Alma begins acting quite odd at the new bank and it’s not just because of the changes in her relationship with Ellsworth. And yet again Bullock can’t have a moments rest as the ownership of the livery is finally settled but Steve and Hostetler refuse to quit butting heads. Top that off with another murder and Bullock finally steps in and takes Hearst off to jail.

A Rich Find: Hearst is still in jail as Bullock and Swearengen begin to prepare for the worst as soon as Bullock is set to release him. Aunt Lou’s son Odell arrives in town and is oddly welcomed by Hearst. Tolliver, who was given a second chance by Hearst, begins to discuss with his boss about making Alma’s gold claim their own. Alma is having problems with Sofia who lately has been upset by the absence of Mr. Ellsworth.

Unauthorized Cinnamon: A meeting at the Gem garners a few ideas from Bullock including a letter being published as a condolence to the family members of the murdered men. Some of the townspeople realize what kind of trouble could come from the publishing of the letter. Aunt Lou’s son Odell was welcomed by Hearst and now may be going into business with him. Aunt Lou begins to fear for her boy’s life and hopes he makes the right decisions. Joanie and Jane’s relationship gets a lot stronger as Joanie has made her way now through almost all of Jane’s family.

Disc Four:

Leviathan Smiles: Merrick and Blazanov have the newest edition of “The Pioneer” and pass it out to many anxious readers at the Gem and Grand Central. Hearst originally thanks Merrick for printing the letter but things turn ugly as he feels it was Bullock’s way to embarrass him. Swearengen and Bullock are taken aback by two strangers riding into town with guns blazing who happen to be none other then Wyatt Earp and his brother Morgan. Wyatt lets it be known that he was once a marshal but is on town on a timber lease. Swearengen doesn’t buy a word of it. After a bit of searching though, the truth is found out and tensions raise. This would have to be my personal favorite episode of the season simply due to the fact of seeing the Earps come to town and interact with Bullock and everyone else. A great combination of Western history.

Amateur Night: Hearst’s right-hand man Barrett heads to the office of The Pioneer to write an article, so he claims. But when Merrick questions him, Barrett delivers a severe beating as Blazanov looks on in terror. Swearengen is trying to figure out some way to put together a formidable clan to stand up against Hearst’s men who have now been spotted all over town. After a bit of trouble is raised due to Morgan Earp, Bullock has a talk with Wyatt and convinces the brothers to move on out of Deadwood. Langrishe puts on an amateur night at his theatre hoping it will draw some of the townspeople out to showcase their hidden talents.

A Constant Throb: Bullock is out campaigning and that leaves the doors wide open for Hearst’s men to do as they please and their first target is Alma . Alma does the next best thing to Bullock and she goes to Swearengen for help. Barrett has a message from his boss and is sent to the Gem to deliver it but finds himself in a heap of big trouble when he arrives. Even though not as action or storyline packed as other episodes, this is another of my favorites.

Disc Five:

The Catbird Seat: Out in Sturgis, Bullock can’t be bothered with trivial problems back home so he holds a morning meeting to determine which are the biggest deals. After Hearst’s appears bigger then Alma’s, she is still rather frightened and heads to the Gem to hideout for a while. Swearengen is still set to fend for himself but was hoping on a band of mercenaries he had been promised. When that seems to fall through, Swearengen relies on Plan B and that’s Mr. Wu.

Tell Him Something Pretty: Bullock feels as it there is no real need for a vote since it is obvious who will win, but the town’s residents come out in numbers anyway. Swearengen gets more then he could have ever hoped for as Mr. Wu has brought in his men from Custer City and then Hawkeye shows up with an almost full other troop. After a long and stressful time, Alma finally negotiates a deal for her gold claim and has that settled. Langrishe has gotten his theatre ready, summoned his fellow actors, and prepared for the moment he could finally open his theatre only now he wonders if it’s the right time and if Deadwood is the right place.

The Video

The episodes are shown in 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen format and they look fantastic. The colors of daytime in the West are bright, sharp and absolutely beautiful. At night, the darker shots are just light enough to see everything going on, and almost have a bit of a brown hue over them to give a bit more of a rustic look.

The Audio

The episodes are heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 sound and they sound excellent. Most episodes are dialogue driven and it can always be heard just fine. The gun battles, stagecoach rides, and horse whinnies can also be heard very realistically and everything sets a very western but eerie mood. Any problems with audio are on the special features which are very hard to hear unless you turn the volume way up.

Special Features

Audio Commentaries – Creator David Milch provides commentary for a few episodes and even though I am usually against commentary by a single person, it’s really not bad. He gives a lot of insight into how he wanted to make Deadwood as realistic as possible and had the perfect actors with which to work with.

Deadwood Daguerreotypes – Around forty historical pictures from a classical city of Deadwood and its surrounding areas in the late 1800’s.

Deadwood Matures – This is a rather interesting and historical look into the elections, the school, and the theatre of the town of Deadwood. The crew and a few members of the cast talk about what really went on in history’s past with those particular situations and then into how they were brought to life on Deadwood. Quite short as it clocks in at just around fifteen minutes, but still extremely informative.

The Education Of Swearengen And Bullock – An absolutely fantastic special feature that dissects the relationship and personalities of Swearengen and Bullock. They are compared as being “two sides of the same coin.” Bullock is a sensitive good-natured man who sometimes does horrible things and he feels guilty for them. Swearengen is a horrible man that has no problem doing terrible deeds but also can show a kind side from time to time. Enemies for so long, the two of them come to grips that they must join forces against a common enemy, Hearst. I think creator David Milch said it best though when he made a point to focus on their age difference. Swearengen is older and has no children while Bullock is younger and without a father so in respect they may see each other as a father/son relationship but just never coming out to say it.

The Inside Pulse

The only fault that can be found with this DVD set is the fact that the special features are not longer and do not go very deep into the behind the scenes of Deadwood. Because there is no possible way to find any fault whatsoever in the show itself. The writing is top notch, the acting is phenomenal, the sets are spectacular, and the storyline runs so deep that it is amazing they could fit so much into each hour-long episode. Deadwood is one of the best shows to come along in years and it is a shame that its on air run is ending after only three years. From what I hear there will be 2 two-hour long films to close out the story and end it for good, but I wish that wasn’t the case. I could surely stand another five years of this show at least. Especially considering it had gone from “really good” in its first two seasons to “purely great” in this one. I recommend you enjoy this show because if not, I’m sure everyone in town would have a few choice words for you.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Deadwood: Season 3
(OUT OF 10)