After the fraught finale of "Game of Thrones," some of us are looking forward to the next HBO event, the "Deadwood" movie.
The May 31 film won't set off a cultural earthquake like "GOT," but it likely will generate debate among its small but passionate fan base.
David Milch's Western about the late 19th century gold mining town was abruptly ended in 2006 after three seasons. HBO promised a concluding two-part movie, but it never materialized. Then HBO announced a couple of years ago that it would produce a film showing "Deadwood's" characters 10 years after the show's last episode.
Milch finished the script while suffering from early stages of Alzheimer's disease, as detailed in an article by New Yorker writer Mark Singer in the magazine's current issue. While his mental and physical faculties decline, Milch continues to write each day with the help of various assistants. Singer also profiled Milch when "Deadwood" was first shown on HBO.
Singer doesn't give an assessment of the movie itself. The original show was known for the characters' profane but eloquent dialogue.
That touched off a debate whether people in the old West really cursed as they did on the show. Milch claimed that he did research that showed that words like "cocksucker" and "fuck" were commonly used in 19th century South Dakota. It'll be interesting to see whether Milch's film dialogue matches the show's brilliance.
As Singer notes, Milch studied with Robert Penn Warren at Yale, and compiled an American literature anthology with Warren and Cleanth Brooks. Milch also received an MFA at the famed Iowa Writing Workshop, then brought his literary training to TV writing, first on Steve Bochco's "Hill Street Blues." Then he and Bochco created the innovative "NYPD Blue" and "L.A. Law."
Many of "Deadwood's" original sets were found for the making of the movie, and others had to be rebuilt. Previews show familiar characters looking much older, although Ian McShane's Al Swearengen appears about the same. A couple of actors have died since the original series ended, most prominently Powers Boothe as Swearengen's saloon-owner rival. Boothe was last seen in the ABC show "Nashville."
Since the show's demise, cast members have enjoyed busy careers. McShane is the lead in Starz's "American Gods," appears in the "John Wick" films and had a brief role in "Game of Thrones."
Tim Olyphant, who'll return as Sheriff Seth Bullock, starred in FX's "Justified" and has appeared in several movies.
After playing the kindly dcctor who delivered two of the children on NBC's hit weeper "This Is Us," Gerald McRaney returns to "Deadwood" as mining magnate and Senatorial candidate George Hearst.
Also back in "Deadwood" are Molly Parker, Kim Dickens ("Treme" and "Friday Night Lights"), Robin Weigert and Paula Malcomson as the good-hearted prostitute Trixie.
The wonderful John Hawkes, memorable in several independent films, also returns, as does Anna Gunn, who after playing Bullock's estranged wife in "Deadwood" stirred fan hostility as Walter White's estranged wife, Skylar, in "Breaking Bad."
And then there are "Deadwood's" great character actors like Brad Dourif, W. Earl Brown and Willliam Sanderson.
"Deadwood" fans hope the movie delivers a more satisfying conclusion than the final episodes of "Game of Thrones," which spurred a million angry fans to petition for a rewrite. Perhaps Al's fate will be happier than the Dragon Queen's.