Deadwood

Several of you are Deadwood fans who also happen to be writers. So, being that I’m having “a day” that defies all humor, I’m throwing out my big pressing Deadwood question:

What was the purpose/role of the acting troupe in this last season?

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6 thoughts on “Deadwood

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is April (i’m too lazy to log in)A: There really was an acting troupe that came to Deadwood. They’re playing with the time line a bit, but that’s part of the charm of the show the semblance of real history. (I love to check Wikipedia to find out which folks are based on historic “figures.” Who would have guessed that “soap for sale” dude was real????)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deadwood_%28TV_series%29B: As Seth says Swearengen needs an equal that is outside of the politics of the town. This person being from Al’s past adds more depth the top cocksucker’s personna. It gives a sense of Al’s past beyond his childhood and shows that he is respected and more sophisticated then his line of work (and skill with the knife) would lead you to believe. The theater “drama” – other troupe members vying for his attention, the promoter getting his way on buying the school, him coning Herst about the back pain – shows that this isn’t just some fancy lad and reiterates that scoundrels are everywhere.C: It also it adds depth to the town as a character. It shows that Deadwood is growing. It was a fly-by-night, tent city now it’s moving into the real town phase. It’s attracting legitimate entertainment, they are having elections, there’s a school, people are concerned about safety (fire department) and there is also more emphasis on establishing homes (Solbuying a home). We have to believe that the town is a real thriving, growing place or else it’s unbelievable that any of these characters would risk their lives for the town (Bullock) or spend their lives investing in the community (Alma gives up her claim just so she can stay).

  2. Anonymous says:

    In A, I was referring to the troupe itself. http://www.legendsofamerica.com/WE-JackLangrishe.htmlI know (and know that you know) the Gem was really a theatre but that’s a different thing from this group. I’m not saying the show is historically accurate, but an illusion of history is important to the feel of the show. They clearly intend to work in all the “famous” figures that impacted Deadwood. I thought the Wyatt Earp story was more forced than the theatre one.But I guess the real question you’re asking is why didn’t the writers just let the rest of the theatre troupe disappear into the town instead of having scenes with them. I again think this goes to character building. We need to know more about Jack Lagrishe and how he operates and him interacting with his underlings, lovers and the town is a good way to do that (that’s how we got to know Al). I just assume they are sitting up plot lines for future shows.You’re right that it had little to do with this season’s main story about Hearst, but I don’t think any of the subplots did. Again I feel it goes to the town’s character development. There is more here than just our heroes battling the evil gold digger. There are fire trucks and stables and lesbians and schools. The creators/writers seem to want to tell a story about the town. I personally think truncating the story to just the main plot would be extremely interesting — maybe have only 6 main characters instead of a dozen-plus.Also … I think there is something symbolic there. The troupe – an allusion to the shows’ Shakespearean themes? The well put together actors a contrast to the “acting” of the fools EB and Richardson? The old actor who dies, the casting out of the old lover – symbolic of the death/end of the old deadwood (a tent city)? The exotic new troupe member discovered in Deadwood and immediately installed –symbolic of the new direction?

  3. Beth says:

    Well, I think that question could almost be applied to any story. You could argue that the season was there to show that sometimes the bully wins (Hearst got exactly what he wanted from the Ellsworth claim to the outcome of the election (if things go the way they seem to be going)) – sometimes your most heroic characters aren’t the most heroic (they were almost all complicit in the one prostitute’s death from Al to Seth to Sol to Trixie). Sometimes people can’t be saved like Calamity Jane while others fight their own prejudices/hatred and do the “right” thing – like the Little N* General and his taking responsibility for Steve’s care.I persoanlly liked the season although I didn’t particularly like the finale. I’m sure many questions will be resolved with the two planned HBO “movies” and hope that they explain why we’re getting so much background on the troupe. Why do we care where they’re located? who is on which committee? their vying for the attention of the troupe’s leader? the “mysterious” woman whose come into their fold? Other than the main guy being a bit of a snake oil salesman and attempting to be a Hearst confidant I don’t think they’ve tied them successfully to the main story. Historically, Al ran a theatre in Deadwood – so far, that’s my only connection.

  4. Ravenhex says:

    A better question would be, what was the purpose of season 3? I thought the season overall was a huge disappointment.I think maybe the chick who played Rita Sue in Carnivale asked someone at HBO to make her a role in Deadwood, hence the acting troop.

  5. Beth says:

    Well first, I’m aware that there was a real theater as I mentioned. According to the Deadwood history regarding the Gem http://www.legendsofamerica.com/WE-GemSaloon.html Al used it for a variety of perfomances including “prize fights” without prizes – and he also used it to lure women into prostitution.In my experience, when you’re telling a story each piece that you introduce should fit into the larger picture. You could show a theater or the camp talent show without going into depth about the characters involved in establishing it. Here, you have a lot of story built-up around the characters but they have a very limited interraction with the larger story.In my opinion, it would be like reading As I Lay Dying and we go into the side story of the clerk that sold cosmetics to Dewey Dell. While that might lead to some fascinating social commentary or insite into the times, the character and community it would also be completely extraneous.Lots of things “really” happened in Deadwood that aren’t depicted and lots of things didn’t happen in Deadwood that are.There was more to Deadwood than just the bank, the one sociallite, the 3 bars, the handful of prostitutes, the hotel and the hardware store, but those stories aren’t developed despite them potentially showing a backdrop for a booming mining town. Therefore, it stands to reason that the acting troupe has to be part of the bigger picture. Otherwise, who cares that Rita Sue is part of the committee to work on props? Who cares that one of their own came all that way to die? Who cares about their petty jealousies, bickering and backstabbing? Why put that much writing into it to just give Deadwood character?I completely buy what Seth said; it makes sense. I can only hope the rest comes out in the movies, because right now it seems to me like more was planned for them and the writers weren’t given enough time to fully develop those side plots.

  6. Swanksalot says:

    I’ve wondered about it too. Two possibilities, there really was an acting troupe in Deadwood, and they were worked into the plot for that reason. Or (and I think this was on the DVD commentary for Season 2), Swegin’ (sic) needed to have a confidante who was an equal, and not really part of the camp’s politics.

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