"I was interested in how people improvised the structures of a society when there was no law to guide them." That's how David Milch, creator of the HBO drama Deadwood, described the project to The New Yorker in 2005. Fourteen years later, his story has finally come to completion with a feature film.
In its original three seasons, the prestige Western tracked a frontier camp's progress, under the watchful eye of Sheriff Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant) and the bad influence of brothel owner Al Swearengen (Ian McShane), from muddy outpost to bustling village. The 2019 finale, Deadwood: The Movie, drops back in on the characters a decade after viewers left them following the show's untimely cancelation.
In the duration, much has changed. Railroads have come to South Dakota. So has statehood and, even as we watch, telephony. Chaos gives way to spontaneous order but also to formal governance.
Fans of the series can rest easy, however. A (slightly) more civilized backdrop does nothing to dampen the interpersonal fireworks, and we get the same stellar acting and crackling dialog that garnered so many accolades in Deadwood's first run.