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Deadwood

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Does anyone here watch this show? Like it?

It portrays a rather brutal depiction of the west during that time. There are some facts blended into the fictional story line.

One thing that I have noticed is how many of the characters seem to have objectivist-like beliefs. For those not familiar with the story, the main "hero" is a guy named Bullock who leaves a sheriff job in a small town to start a business in a camp called Deadwood. There we meet the story's principal "villain", a guy named Swearengen. These two have an intense dislike for each other almost immediately, but circumstances of survival require that they co-exist.

If I were to picture an Objectivist villain (if there is such a thing), I think Swearengen would be it. There's no mistaking that he is unethical, immoral and evil, but he's clearly an intelligent man, and many times during the show he makes decisions with rational self-interest in mind that gives value to the "common good" in order to ensure his livelihood (or value). (i.e. sending for a vaccine when a plague breaks out) Altruism does not even cross his mind. However, his sense of life is severly stunted, and he rarely experiences any hapiness for his efforts of providing whiskey, women and gambling to his patrons. This is usually because of all the problems generated by his efforts running the saloon and trying to maintain a strangle hold over the camp while pursuing his interests.

For me however, it is more difficult to assess if Bullock could represent an Objectivist hero. He wants to start a business with his partner selling goods in the camp. He has to deal with Swearengen in order to get the land to do so, and this causes serious tension between the two for a couple of episodes. While doing so, Bullock befriends Wild Bill Hikock, Calamity Jane and Charlie Utter. (A little sidetrack: Bill is on a losing streak, Jane loves Bill but is too much of a "man" to admit it, and Charlie feels obligated to save Bill from himself. There is an odd hint of tension (dare I say sexual) between Jane and Charlie as well.)

At times Bullock appears to be altruistic. I say appears, because it isn't clear to me whether that is the case. He becomes involved in several events helping others that it isn't clear (at least to me) whether or not he's doing it because he's getting value from his involvement or because he's sacrificing himself for others.

There are a few times when both Swearengen and Bullock have to work together, each to insure their own survival.

Swearengen does not represent the greatest evil in Deadwood though. A couple of episode into the series, a new saloon owner shows up in town. Tolliver starts up a saloon (which was bought up for him surreptitiously by another character) which presents a more "upscale" environment than Swearengen's saloon, the Gem. Despite his apparent civility, he's as mean and ruthless as a snake.

All of the characters are richly and uniquely detailed, some types rarely if ever seen in shows before. They aren't all likeable, but the are all well designed and acted out.

I would like to hear what other folks think of this show, particularly those more knowledgeable about Objectivism than myself. I'm interested largely in your assessment of the main characters, and what you think of my assessment.

Here's a link to the show's web page Deadwood.

VES

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I just watched it for the first time this week, so I'm not familiar with many of the storylines. I was interested to see how they are forming a government.

I don't remember all of the character's names, but I don't like the gray-haired guy.

Calamity Jane was great.

I really like the blond whore who is looking to open her own brothel and not be under anyone else's thumb.

edit: I know many on here will disagree b/c of the show's strong supernatural aspect and religious references, but I think HBO's Carnivale is their best. I can't wait for the new season!

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I enjoy Deadwood, along with all of the other HBO Sunday Night shows. Responding to the first post, I don't see any hint of altruism in his service to the woman, because he is upholding his word to his murdered friend (wild bill), even if he was just a new friend. It may have also become an end-in-itself for him, with the obvious attraction she has for him, and maybe him for her (?). It's a complicated issue (as is the role in helping others outside of it), so I don't suggest fussing yourself with it. What I think is on the bad side of this main 'good-guy' is his temper. It is to my opinion that that may get him killed. As for the whore who is trying to make a new life, I think the "gray-haired guy" will eventually take her back in, and she'll kill herself, unless Charlie takes care of her in his huge store. An observation I've made of Swearengen is that he has nobody on his side, nor anybody that understands him. He relies on that woman---his whore---for all visibility, and she obviously does not want to give it. It will be interesting to see what happens with that. I suppose the gray-haired guy's attachment to the other whore shows the same thing, especially with his newly lost friend (thanks to the murdering of a couple teens).

I really enjoy the psychological depths of the HBO shows, and think they are very down to earth. Six Feet Under has a horrible way of bringing out the worst emotions in me, and I don't suggest it, but The Wire and of course The Sopranos, and to a somewhat lesser extent Oz, are just amazing shows. Can't leave out the hilarious comedy of Curb Your Enthusiasm either! :) I'm really happy to sit down every sunday night with HBO.

-Dominic

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The gray-haired guy is Tolliver (Powers Booth), the Bella Union saloon owner. There are some parallels between him and Swearengen, the Gem saloon owner. But I believe Tolliver will go that extra step towards insanity and evil when it comes down to it. The whore is Joanie, and she'd do best to get away from Tolliver. I foresee him killing her, or at least pushing her over the edge so that she kills herself, a variation of the suicide idea already expressed. Class and style aside, there are so many similarities between Swearengen and Tolliver that I think their core difference is the depths of evil to which they will sink. Swearengen has a 16 oz. fishing sinker while Tolliver has a ship's anchor.

Wisdom: I can see your point about Bullock upholding his obligations. I like how he doesn't seem to take much stock in religion. He tolerates the preacher at burials, but you can tell he really would rather not be there. He is very principled so I hope he won't actually get together with Alma Garrett. I agree with your assessment of his temper.

Don: Yes, Jane's character is awesome! It's such a shame she is in a downward spiral but there may be a historical element in play that I'm not aware of. She maintains a very tough exterior which usually works for her. However, in one episode she backed down from a confrontation with Swearengen, and I think that affected her alot. But you may notice (if you get to see some of the previous episodes) that she never acts on her toughness, but frequently acts on her concealed tenderness.

VES

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The gray-haired guy is Tolliver (Powers Booth), the Bella Union saloon owner.  There are some parallels between him and Swearengen, the Gem saloon owner.  But I believe Tolliver will go that extra step towards insanity and evil when it comes down to it.

Powers Booth! He does a great job of playing villains, but he's really a good guy.

My son was in his daughter's class at a private school and I have been to his house and talked to him a couple of times. Both he and his wife Pamela are smart, down to earth people.

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Powers Booth! He does a great job of playing villains, but he's really a good guy.

Yes he's always been able to play a good villain. That's interesting that you know him Betsy. I don't get much of a chance to brush shoulders with movie stars in Virginia. :)

VES

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