"Deadwood" Season 3: the vein peters out

Deadwood: The Complete Third Season (2006) Deadwood: The Complete Third Season
HBO DVD (2006); 720 minutes

3 out of 5 stars
Reviewed for Coffeerooms by Mike Jefferson

Finally taking a look at the last season of "Deadwood" (yeah, I'm that far behind)... What the heck happened?

There's virtually no action for the first seven episodes save Dan gouging out a victory over The Captain, and even that gets a wrench thrown in it when Al tells Johnny that Dan looked the Captain in the eye(s) and could see death. The Captain was flat on his face in the mud before he died, and prior to that he was handily winning the fight, so there's no way Dan "Could see death in his eyes." If anything, The Captain saw death in Dan's eyes.

And having Gerald McRainey chew up the scenery as "Hearst" is a huge mistake. It makes him the main villain, which turns Ian McShane's Swearengin into a toothless babbling philosopher and turns Powers Booths' character into another "E.B". Swearengin shows some cunning as the showdown between the camp and Hearst builds, then there's barely any action except the death of some minor characters.

Most pathetic Swearengin moment? Singing to the deer during amateur night. The acting troupe? Another plot headed nowhere.

As for Alma...cheese Louise, stop blubbering already! A completely inert character from the get go. And Steve and Hostetler? That story arc should have been settled in 15 minutes; Hostetler's death is a gyp and turning Steve into comic relief isn't very subtle or comical.

Back to Hearst...I still find it hard to believe that a man whose made it clear that his intention is to rule or destroy Deadwood makes it past one episode. Granted, this is a real man we're talking about, but if everyone in the town is against him and if "The Captain", Hearst's arch-henchman, is already a one-eyed corpse, then how hard would it be for someone, -- anyone -- to leave Hearst for dead in the street like one of the Cornishmen? Even E.B. could take him out with one shot from behind before Hearst's inept Pinkertons show up . If Bullock wasn't there to witness his death, no harm, no foul.

And Bullock? Call him Raging Bullock -- he spends the whole 10 episodes clenching his jaw, doing an imitation of an active volcano.

Too many characters have little or nothing to do -- Powers Booth had more lines in bed than he does upright; Joanie is still lost, but suicide? She's not that depressed. Bullock's wife spends most of her scenes pop-eyed or leaving the room whenever Al comes in; and though Ethan Hawkes' character may be running for Mayor he does little more than stare at the Sheriff while Bullock's bouncing around the room or act like Ed Norton when he's with Trixie. Lots of talk, no solutions. The Earps? An after thought, a way to take advantage of the fact the real Earps did indeed visit Tombstone. As for the deluge of Shakespearean verbal diarrhea, I have to agree with my friend Valerie that it's a mistake; especially so when, after the first few episodes, the characters stop speaking like they're auditioning at the Old Vic. The dialog has become as thick as the mud in the streets and about as easy to decipher.

All in all, "Deadwood" is still a hell of a lot better than anything I've seen lately but, I'll tell ya, I see why "Deadwood" died after three seasons; the quality of the writing dropped off precipitously.

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