Wednesday, August 23, 2006

If only Alma knew...

I haven't been able to find too many interesting nuggets related to Deadwood lately. But while reading this New York Times article on the upcoming movie Hollywoodland, about the mystery surrounding George Reeves' apparent suicide, I tripped over this little tidbit about Jim Beaver, who plays the (now sadly departed - though I have yet to write about it) Mr. Ellsworth.

Set for release by Focus Features on Sept. 8, “Hollywoodland” stars Ben Affleck as Reeves and Adrien Brody as a detective investigating his death. Jim Beaver, who plays Whitney Ellsworth on the HBO series “Deadwood,” served as technical advisor. Mr. Beaver has spent decades researching Reeves’s life and death and plans to publish a book revealing his findings.

Who knew? Well, I suppose if I'd read Beaver's bio at the HBO Deadwood site, I might have noticed that he is indeed working on such a book. (Actually, the bio's worth a read, anyway. Beaver's had a quite an interesting career as an actor and writer.)

And if you read his IMDB bio, you'll see that his Deadwood character, Whitney Ellsworth (Have we ever heard his first name used?), is named after a producer on the show that made George Reeves famous, "The Adventures of Superman."

I was going to say this was curious timing, given what happened on last Sunday's episode. Of course, this has much more to do with Hollywoodland coming out in a couple of weeks.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Episode 33: "Amateur Night"

I can offer no excuses for my delay in episodic posting, Mis Hooz. Certainly nothing like backaches, lack of internet access, broken fingers, genital warts, or having to push a gleet through an inflamed urethra. But after your delightful haiku for last week, I also knew I could offer nothing nearly as entertaining. Best to gird my loins for the latest episode, I figured.

So where should we begin? Here's something that's been gnawing at me for the last few weeks: What the fuck is with George Hearst always sipping (coffee? tea? broth?) from a saucer? Is he evolved from a cat? Early in the episode, while pedaling out orders to kick the shit out of Merrick, we see Hearst pouring from a cup onto a saucer, then going into his usual routine.

Just once, I'd like to see someone ask about that. But no one would have the guts, surely. You know who would? Charley Udder! Maybe Charley and George can have a sit-down in the hotel dining room, and Charley can let forth with one of his wonderful observations.

"Sippin' outta your saucer like a cat, Mr. Hearst? Shall we call you 'Sylvester'? Would you like me to have a Tweety Bird delivered to the camp? How's about you go fuck yourself before giving yourself a tongue bath?"

Now to the Pinkertons. And if I already didn't like them, they sure as hell reserved a seat on my bad side by fucking with my main man, Wu. They got his Charlie Chan suit all muddy, man! Can't an Asian brother walk through the thoroughfare without being pushed in some slop by a cocksucker astride his horse?

Thankfully for Wu's sake, he finally has someone who understands him. Unfortunately, it's Johnny. What's so funny about peace, love, and understandin'?

And I have to comment on Langrishe's "Amateur Night," because I think David Milch and crew blew a tremendous opportunity for cameos and winking references here. Would it not have been belly-laugh hilarious to see a muddied-up Simon Cowell in the crowd, muttering "Awful, simply awful" to himself? No, I suppose not.

Here's the other thought that occurred to me: As unexpectedly wonderful as it was to see Al drunkenly singing to the moose head while everyone else was enjoying the festivities (Would you go see a Broadway musical if Ian McShane was in it, Hooz?), I think it would've been even better if other people in the camp began to sing with him, a la Magnolia.

Picture it: Al goes back to wiping down the bar, while still singing, then cut to Bullock, sitting next to the empty cell. And he joins Al. " ‘Twas all on account of some handsome young woman/ ‘tis the reason why I weep and lament... ♫"

Then cut to Hearst, standing out on his terrace. "♫ I mighta got pills and salts of white mercury/ But now I’m cut down in the height of my prime... ♫"

Over to Richardson, still trying to juggle, while Farnum drags him back to the hotel. "♫ So don’t muffle your drums and play your fifes merrily/ And play a quick march as you carry me along... ♫"

Oh, you know you'd have loved it!

Great line from Langrishe, by the way, to party-pooper E.B.: "Envy is a cardinal sin, Mr. Farnum!" But wasn't it a bit weird to see Richardson out there, after he was consoling poor Aunt Lou in the smokehouse? (Their friendship is so sweet!)

We'll end with the quickies:

▪▪ Favorite line of the week goes to Trixie: "If the currency's counterfeit, my fuckin' Jew boss is the culprit."

▪▪ The runner-up from Jane: "Okay, Giganto! Don't tusk me to death with your tusks!"

▪▪ Speaking of Jane, why was she so afraid of Tolliver? I was shocked by that. Or did she think it might call too much attention to her dalliance with Ms. Stubbs if she came to Joanie's defense? Go ahead and let Mose provide the muscle, lest lips start flappin'.

▪▪ That better not be the last we see of the Earp brothers. They're just going to bail town on Bullock's recommendation? Then what was the point of bringing them onto the show, other than to say, "Hey, Wyatt Earp was once in Deadwood." There's already too many characters and plot threads - as you alluded to in haiku.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Jane Says

I'm glad this was "in print" (online) and not televised, because at this point, I'm not sure I could process watching Robin Weigert talk so much out of character. It's jarring enough already to see her talk normally on things like "Women of Deadwood." And that's just one or two sentences!

Anyway, here's an interview with Joseph Hudak of TVGuide.com. Highlights include something I think we should all be treated to on a DVD special feature someday:

TV Guide: How much of Jane's mannerisms and speech inflections are yours and how much is [creator] David Milch's vision for the character?

Weigert: Well, not to make it seem mystical, but this character kind of came to me whole. I just kind of found this person. The key to it, though, is the words on the page. I think what [Milch] does is take what he sees from us and then build on it, and start to write to it. He does a fantastic Jane! When he has an idea that's very clear to him, he'll sometimes "do" her.

Weigert also complains about the "cleaner" language they have to use, now that the dialogue is being re-looped for syndication. "Freakin'" and "cobshucker"? You've gotta be kidding.

I'm sure everyone in Deadwood is referring to people who shuck corn. And what about classic lines like, "Those that doubt me, suck cock by choice." Now, Nuttall will be insulting those who choose to divest corn cobs of their husks? Oy.

I'm digressing, aren't I?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Leviathan Fuckin' Smiles

Due to backaches, road agents and other various cocksuckers, I’ve been unable to post recently. To make amends, I’d like to present this post written entirely in haiku.

In the early morn’
letters in papers appear
great man takes umbrage

Jane’s a floor sleeper
Joanie kissed her last night but
did they do it, too?

Be they lesbians?
God, libby* really hopes so
We shall wait and see

Fuck yerself with a
Fist punch up the ass today
Ha ha ha ha ha

Steve’s an utter ass
Harp and fuckin’ criticize
his last fuckin’ time

Once again I’m shown
my lack of history smarts
the Earps are in town?

As a journalist
Less majestically neutral
Merrick shits his pants

Ice water dousing
Dread the prospect indeed sir
Langrishe’s voo-doo

Cy Tolliver is
A sneaky, slimy bastard
Why didn’t he die?

Actors all around
Where’s their storyline going
I would like to know

Nigger General knows
Life is hard for a black man
Hard for horses too

Tools left in the store
Like an interrupted shit
Younger Earp is dumb

Poor Aunt Lou begs Hearst
Odell has her so worried
she’s superstitious

Hearst-ass oh my god
breath sir deeply, hungerly
Christ what a charade

Leviathan waits
We wonder what it means and
Steve’s covered in grits

*mutual friend, not on show.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

My "in" with Ian McShane?

Maybe I can parlay my "night job" as a "sportswriter" into some quality sit-down time with Mr. Albert Swearengen himself.

How so, you might ask?

Well, it turns out Ian McShane is something of a Detroit sports fan. Tell me you ever would've figured that.

From a Q&A at SI.com:

SI: You moved to Venice Beach in 2003, when you signed on for the Deadwood role. Have you become immersed in any of the Los Angeles teams?

McShane: My wife is American and she's from Detroit. My teams are the Red Wings and Pistons. I am very sad that Brendan Shanahan has left the Red Wings and Ben Wallace has left the Pistons.

Me too, Ian. Me too. I wouldn't mind throwing one of Al's favorite terms at Mr. Wallace, though.

Why you always so mad, Seth?

Here's another profile of Timothy Olyphant, this time from the New Zealand Herald. (Yes, really.)

What makes this one interesting is that Olyphant talks a little bit about Seth Bullock's character, and where, according to David Milch, his always simmering rage comes from.

What Milch didn't explain to the audience, however - although he explained it to Olyphant - was that as a child Bullock might have been regularly beaten by his father.

"So I asked, 'Are you going to tell the audience that too?' But David's willing to put this behaviour in that is not explained or in the story."

No word from Olyphant or Milch on the origins of Seth's pre-bedtime sweetness with Martha, however.

Olyphant also has a few other good quotes on just what makes the show so appealing, but I'll let you catch those when you read the article.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

That's a very nice ****in' observation

This might be a little too "meta," but hey, unless you're the New York Times or Washington Post, how often might your newspaper get mentioned on TV?

Here's an article from the Black Hills Pioneer about the Black Hills Pioneer's role on Deadwood. Got that? Lots of italics to keep track of there.

Actually, the most newsworthy nugget in the story is that the Pioneer was first published on my birthday. Well, not the actual birthday, as I wasn't born in 1876, y'see. But on the same date.

June 8. Deadwood Pioneer. Ian Casselberry.

Wu. Swedgin.

Hingdai. Chung-kwo.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Episode 31: "Unauthorized Cinnamon"

Much like Johnny was wondering what was really decided at the end of the big meeting at the Gem Saloon, I find myself questioning what actually happened in this episode. Another week of set-up, wouldn't you say?

Not that I'm complaining. Storylines have to be set in motion. Tension has to build. A payoff has to be earned. But after two weeks of set-up, I just hope that's not all we get until the final episode. I'm not sure even the greatest season/series finale in history could justify so much build-up.

Fortunately, the journey's just as - if not more - enjoyable than the destination when it comes to everyone in Deadwood. As Gustave the swatch man (played by Milch/NYPD Blue alumnus Gordon Clapp) says, "sometimes if you have a thing, the reason for the thing is that you have it." So maybe I shouldn't question whether anything's happening, I should simply be happy that I have this show. I wouldn't mind one of those swatches to wear as an ascot, though - especially in this humid weather we've been having. The HBO Store should get on that.

So let me see if I can distill this episode down to its metaphorical essence, as I often like to do. Al likes to break out the canned peaches for these meetings. It shows a little class, and it thanks the luminaries for attending. Yet it's been done before, and this meeting was probably a little more important than the others. So Jewel broke out the cinnamon, to use with the peaches. Why? Because it was nice - a kindness to include with the original gesture.

Al likes to gather the power brokers of the camp (excluding Alma, of course, who has the misfortune of being female) to decide which direction their little community will take. It shows some civilization, and it gives the people a voice. Yet it's been done before, and this particular gathering was more important than the others. So Bullock (who Tolliver wanted to sacrifice to Hearst) pulled out his letter, in hopes of staving off what appears to be an inevitable bloodbath for proprietorship of the camp. Why? Because what he said was nice - a kindness to show that Deadwood isn't just some mining outpost, that it's a community with people that care.

Ultimately, maybe Bullock's letter will have the same effect on Hearst and his plans that Jewel's cinnamon had upon poor Harry. "Cunningly sophisticated," no?

Of course, that's not the way Al usually does things. He was "mystified" at himself for "endorsing it." So poor Doc is the recipient of Al bottling up all that rage and indignance. I suppose Doc also represents a sense of community, which is why Al doesn't want to lose him and will bully him ("I ain't learnin' a new doc's quirks!") into recovery if he has to.

Or maybe Al was mad at himself for endorsing such a seemingly pacifist tactic after Blazanov tipped him off to Hearst's shipment of "bricks," soon to be delivered. Hearst sends out for more men, while Al holds off on bringing in more guns, in favor of publishing a "very nice fuckin' letter" in Merrick's paper.

What do you think? Am I onto something or are these the groggy ramblings of a man awake earlier than he should be on a Sunday morning?

Other questions and observations 12 hours (and counting) before the next episode:

▪▪ Joanie and Jane sittin' in a tree... k-i-s-s-i-n-g. I loved Jane's narration of events as they were happening. "I suppose now I'll take off my fuckin' undershirt and the like, and show off my tits and so forth!" Hot. Boy, did that bring back memories of the first time I got to second base with a young lady. Who needs romance when a woman's nice enough to tell you what's about to happen?

▪▪ Joanie slept with her two sisters? Yeesh.

▪▪ What the fuck was the deal with those swatches, anyway? At least we were treated to Al's reaction at his hand being wrapped in gold fabric, and his plea to Johnny ("Please God, come in!"). Sometimes the reason for the thing is that you have it.

▪▪ How touching was Trixie's reaction to Sol's suggestion that they might take Sofia? For some reason, it reminded me of the second-to-last season (?) of Six Feet Under, when Claire tells Nate that he needs to work at the funeral home again because David's falling apart. Why? "He'd do it for you."

Oy, you're making me verklempt ova heah!