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Deadwood Finally Puts Paid to That Gold Claim in Movie Finale

ALSO: Good Omens, When They See Us, Blindspot, David Letterman, and more
  • Timothy Olyphant in Deadwood (HBO)
    Timothy Olyphant in Deadwood (HBO)

    Deadwood was always going to be too esoteric to become the biggest show on HBO. With its retro Old West setting, an eye towards granular community-building and an ear for the heavily stylized iambic verse of David Milch, its appeal was always going to be limited. Maybe HBO saw a show about violence, sex, and a charismatic antihero at its center and figured it could replicate the success of The Sopranos in any genre.

    Look, yes, we've become obsessed with this question of what's going to succeed Game of Thrones as HBO's next flagship drama, but even if we didn't have that on the brain, Deadwood would still have us pondering the last time HBO flailed about while trying to replicate its biggest success. We've got Deadwood on the brain, of course, because the long (long, LONG)-awaited wrap-up movie is finally here. To say "we thought we'd never see this day" would be an understatement.

    Deadwood aired for three years on HBO, from 2004-2006, and it wasn't until the end of Season 2 that it truly caught fire with a small but increasingly vocal fanbase. A somewhat disappointing third season let some of the wind out of our sails, but with HBO iffy on the show's prospects and Milch increasingly distracted by the prospect of making a show about a surfing Jesus, the network cancelled Deadwood despite the third season ending without much in the way of closure. Seth and Al were just teaming up to take Hearst down!

    Almost immediately, promises were made that a TV movie would be filmed to wrap up the Deadwood story. And just as many times as we were promised, we were denied. It wasn't just getting Milch to write it or getting HBO to pay for it, it was also that the Deadwood cast proliferated like few TV ensembles ever have. This show was a character-actor bonanza, and soon their ranks were cast across the TV map, from Sons of Anarchy to Weeds to the Ryan Murphy-verse and beyond. When were they supposed to make the Deadwood movie? While Timothy Olyphant was on Justified? While Anna Gunn was on Breaking Bad? While Kim Dickens was on Fear the Walking Dead and Ian McShane was making Kings (aw, Kings), and John Hawkes was getting Oscar-nominated for Winter's Bone?

    That we're getting a Deadwood movie 13 years after it ended is a long-awaited miracle. It's striking gold in the Black Hills.

    SPECIAL PRESENTATION: To prepare for tonight's two-hour Deadwood movie, make sure and catch yourself up on where we left things off at the end of Season 3.  8:00 PM ET on HBO

    SERIES PREMIERE: While HBO makes a rare foray into prestige programming on Friday night, Amazon is releasing the complete first season of its much-awaited adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's Good Omens, starring Michael Sheen (of The Good Fight, most recently) and David Tennant (Doctor Who) as an angel and a demon, respectively, who both want to stop the coming of the Antichrist because they quite like life on Earth. Other stars in this farcical pseudo-religious tale include Jon Hamm, Josie Lawrence, Michael McKean, and Miranda Richardson. Streaming on Amazon

    WORLD PREMIERE: Acclaimed director Ava DuVernay's When They See Us is a four-part mini-series dramatizing the events surrounding the arrest and conviction of the falsely-accused "Central Park Five." The sensation in New York City and elsewhere over this case was pervasive in the '80s and bubbled up again during the 2016 election, as then-businessman Donald Trump had very publicly called for the execution of these five young boys, and on the campaign trail refused to offer an apology even long after their exoneration. The cast includes Aunjanue Ellis, Vera Farmiga, Felicity Huffman, John Leguizamo, Niecy Nash, and Michael K. WIlliams. Streaming on Netflix

    NEW SEASON: The first season of Netflix's My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, where David Letterman carries on extended conversations with the likes of Barack Obama, George Clooney, Jay-Z, and Tina Fey, were released once a week. Back for Season 2, the entire five-episode season drops all at once, today. This season's guests are Kanye West, Ellen DeGeneres, Tiffany Haddish, Lewis Hamilton, and Melinda Gates. Streaming on Netflix


    • Blindspot airs its fourth season finale, and note the special time. 9:00 PM ET on NBC
    • Always Be My Maybe is Netflix's latest romantic comedy offering, this time pairing stand-up extraordinaire Ali Wong and Fresh Off the Boat's Randall Park. Streaming on Netflix
    • Swamp Thing premieres its 10-episode first season. Streaming on DC Universe

    Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.

    TOPICS: Deadwood, HBO, Ian McShane, Timothy Olyphant