Take a hit show, copy the formula, maybe change the name (although not always necessary), find attractive actors…or just attractive people…put them in the show, and you have the latest season of broadcast TV in a nutshell. Looking to draft off of Lost’s success, Surface, Threshold, Invasion and Night Stalker all appeared last fall. Now it looks as though none will be around come fall.
But since summer has arrived, I no longer have to sit through Law & Order: Extremely Special Unit with Serious Intent as well as a multitude of generic procedurals from CBS, and various sitcoms that all seem to star a troublemaking dad that vaguely resembles Jim Belushi, a yummy-mummy wife, and multiple precocious children. And with summer, comes the year’s most ballsy, biting, and brilliant shows all year—as long as you have HBO.
Spending summer Sunday nights at home with HBO not only gives me my fix of both comedy and drama, but the pairing of Deadwood and Entourage is the most stimulating of the year.
After trying to find its footing in previous seasons, Entourage has come into its own as a sharp and unpretentious comedy that knocks the socks off anything with a laugh track. While Entourage’s popularity has grown, Deadwood has moved into the category of “obscure”; despite diehard fans, this season is its last. Difficult to follow and not as widely celebrated as other HBO counterparts, the show struggles to find an audience given that westerns aren’t as popular as they were, say, 50 years ago.
Fans of the Clint Eastwood cowboy flick might be put off by the show’sunparalleled use of expletives, Shakespearean-style dialogue, and copious graphic violence. But that’s precisely why I like it.
Deadwood doesn’t hold back. Don’t understand what’s going on? Uncomfortable watching the bloody aftermath of a man having a rod shoved into his bladder to dislodge kidney stones for an entire episode? It doesn’t matter because Deadwood runs at its own pace, tackling whatever subject in whatever way it wants.
From this description, Deadwood may not seem too appealing, and if you quickly switched the channel after catching a glimpse of someone being strangled/smothered/stabbed/tarred, then I suggest you give it another try. The program brings refreshing intrigue to a forgotten genre, and manages to remain extraordinarily sophisticated—no small feat for a series populated with drunks, thieves and a wide variety of hookers.
While the combination of an atypical western and a comedy focusing on the lives of Hollywood socialites sounds like the worst pairing imaginable, the two nonetheless provide the most exhilarating hour and a half on TV.
By Intern G. Steiner
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