The rough language, which series creator David Milch (of “NYPD Blue”) insists is authentic, is probably the first thing most viewers will note about “Deadwood.” There’s a lot of cursing — and cussing — in this show, probably more than in any other show I’ve seen. It’s a pretty clear case of HBO-itis, in which a series’ writers apply a liberal amount of profanity to the script mostly just because the network allows it. (“Sex and the City,” a well-written show that I don’t miss one bit, is the archetypal example of this.)
To be honest, I wish there were fewer expletives on “Deadwood,” but not because I find the language offensive at all. Rather, I think the show would simply be better without all the cursing.
My Own Private Western
That’s because the show is complex and complicated and, should you be willing to put up with its intricacies, rewarding. Each episode suggests a kind of industrial age contraption, a spinning, hissing, screeching construction powered by primitive motivations. Characters practically seethe and spit their way through every hour, and the mess of grudges, animosity, lies and killing that unite them is an orchestrated marvel.
It’s not exactly clear to me why “Deadwood” has not been the beneficiary of least some of the same praise and notoriety that is regularly heaped on “The Sopranos.” At least in its first season, “Deadwood” has achieved a noteworthy consistency; none of the twelve episodes I’ve watched have been duds, which is something impossible to say about any season of “The Sopranos.” In a way, I kind of like its status as an underappreciated series, just as I kind of like the fact that the whole Western genre is currently out of favor. Sometimes it’s nice not to have interests that run outside of trends.