Blu-Ray Review: HBO’s ‘Deadwood: The Complete Series’ Archives Incredible Drama

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CHICAGO – Just in time for the holidays, HBO’s brilliant “Deadwood” has been chosen for induction into the complete series Blu-ray catalog of the most important TV network in the last twenty years. Very few HBO series are available in complete series HD sets from HBO (“Band of Brothers,” “Rome,” “The Pacific”) and while fans of “The Sopranos,” “The Wire,” and “Six Feet Under” may finally have their day next holiday season, this one belongs to David Milch’s masterpiece. Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0

The 36 episodes of Milch’s brilliant deconstruction of the TV Western have been segmented on 13 discs — four per season and a disc of bonus material. Essentially, this is nothing more than an HD translation of what was released two years ago on standard disc. If you’re still dreaming of that oft-rumored movie that would tie up all the loose ends of this canceled-too-soon program than you’ll have to keep dreaming.

One of the best programs of the ’00s is named after the real American frontier town that serves as the dramatic backdrop for a convergence of law, greed, love, the past, and the future. Deadwood was the first melting pot, a place where businessmen, soldiers, Chinese laborers, prostitutes, and gunfighters all struggled to survive. Milch’s incredible drama was riveting from first episode to last, not just a great TV Western but one of the best of its genre of any medium, film and fiction included.

Disney's A Christmas Carol was released on Blu-ray and DVD on November 16th, 2010
Disney’s A Christmas Carol was released on Blu-ray and DVD on November 16th, 2010
Photo credit: Disney

“Deadwood” won multiple awards, including Emmys (all technical although actors Brad Dourif, Robin Weigert, and Ian McShane were nominated) and a Peabody Award, and was massively critically-acclaimed but it fell victim to something of a house cleaning at HBO as they were trying to find their identity at the end of the ’00s and cutting high-budget programming. Series like “Carnivale,” “Rome,” and “Deadwood” were all cut tragically-short.

Everything you’d find in the individual season sets have been imported to the complete series set along with the new special features available on the 2008 release. The best of that set was “The Meaning of Endings,” a 23-minute discussion with Milch about the controversial end of the show in which the creator walks the set and talks about where he was planning to go in season four. The other features on the extra disc include “The Real Deadwood: Out of the Ashes”, “Q&A With Cast and Creative Team”, “Deadwood 360 Tour”, and “Al Swearengen Audition Reel (as performed by Titus Welliver)”

What more is there to say about “Deadwood” other than that I still miss it? I like what HBO is doing nowadays but they don’t seem to be taking the creative risks that they once did with shows like this one or “Carnivale.” Let’s face it — “True Blood” is fun but it’s a relatively-obvious hit with its mix of sexuality and the genre trend of the day. “Deadwood” was daring, something that I’m not sure HBO is as much as it used to be. It will be again. But we’ll always have these three seasons to remind us of what can be done when a brilliant TV creator is given creative freedom and when a network takes chances.

‘Deadwood: The Complete Series’ is released by HBO Home Video and stars Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Molly Parker, Jim Beaver, W. Earl Brown, Dayton Callie, Kim Dickens, Brad Dourif, Anna Gunn, John Hawkes, Jeffrey Jones, Paula Malcomson, Leon Rippy, William Sanderson, Robin Weigert, Titus Welliver, Brent Sexton, Bree Seanna Wall and Powers Boothe. It was created by David Milch. It will be released on Blu-ray on December 23rd, 2010.CST. content director Brian Tallerico

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