2006, Books, Fiction, Non-Fiction, TV

Deadwood: Stories of the Black Hills (2006) by David Milch, David Samuels

For me, Deadwood is probably the second greatest English-language dramatic, fictional television show in the history of the medium. But it is also horribly under-watched (if not completely under-known). I have watched the show through at least 3 times and I still believe it’s kind of a marvel of combining big ideas with a compelling narrative. Perhaps the most notable thing about it, though, is the language. I can think of no other American TV show that has such flowery, interesting dialogue that manages to feel authentic, even though it is actually extremely stagey.

This book is a companion to the show’s 3rd season and is entirely for fans only. If you have not seen the show it will not make much sense. If you have seen the show you might still be put off by it both because of how far up his own ass Milch can seem, because it really doesn’t add that much beyond the DVD commentary tracks (do people still listen to those?) and, likely, because of its price. (It was a gift in my case so I have no idea.)

But if you are open to Milch’s way of writing, and his belief that TV is art, this can be illuminating. It also contains interviews with the cast and little snippets of actual historical documentation about Deadwood. Some of what Milch says is quite similar to what he says in the commentary tracks (at least according to my memory) but it’s still very clear this is somebody who wants his show to mean something. And, moreover, he’s fairly coherent when he explains himself. (There are some creators who do not want to explain their work – a decision I respect – and there are some who feel they cannot or actually cannot.)

It’s still very much for fans only, arguably only for huge fans. If you don’t think this is one of the greatest TV shows ever made, it’s hard to imagine you will get much out of this.


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