Deadwood Magazine

       With two Emmys and a Golden Globe award under its belt, the gritty Sunday night western drama, Deadwood, returned to HBO cable television for a second season on March 6.

          Set in the spring of 1877, the hour-long episodes introduce new characters and major changes in the lawless gold mining camp as it becomes an official part of the United States.

            Sheriff Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant) finds his love affair with the widowed Alma Garrett (Molly Parker) complicated by the arrival of his wife Martha (Anna Gunn).

            And foul-mouthed, villainous Al Swearengen (Ian McShane) continues to orchestrate his barbaric domination of the Badlands from his infamous Gem Theater, a brothel masquerading as a dance hall.

            “I’m the counterpoint to Bullock,” McShane says. “We walk the same side of the street to different music in a town where there is no law. And the devil gets the best tunes.”

            McShane’s portrayal of the Machiavellian Swearengen earned him a Golden Globe award as best dramatic actor in a TV drama series. Nominated in 11 categories, the show’s first season also garnered two Emmys – directing for a drama series (Walter Hill) and sound editing for a series. Deadwood is listed as one of American Film Institute’s top ten television shows.

Real-life people interact with fictional characters in the historical drama filmed in California’s San Fernando Valley. Working with photographs of old downtown Deadwood in the gold rush era, HBO producers built a replica of the grimy mining camp, complete with wooden false-fronted buildings and muddy main street, on Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch.

Deadwood cast members returning for the second season include: Calamity Jane (Robin Weigert), Sol Star (John Hawkes), Cy Tolliver (Powers Booth), Doc Cochran (Brad Dourif), Tom Nuttel (Leon Rippy), Trixie (Paula Malcomson),  Johnny Burns (Sean Bridgers), Dan Dority (W. Earl Brown), Charlie Utter (Dayton Callie), Ellsworth (Jim Beaver), E. B. Farnum (William Sanderson), Joanie Stubbs (Kim Dickens), A. W. Merrick (Jeffrey Jones), Sofia Metz (Bree Seanna Wall).

Josh Eriksson is cast as William Bullock, Titus Welliver as Silus Adams and Garret Dillahut as Samuel Wolcott.

John Hawkes, accompanied by supervising producer Scott Stephens, Jim Beaver and W. Earl Brown all made personal appearances in Deadwood last year.

Commenting on the rich history of the town, Stephens said, “We could be on the air for five years and never go beyond 1877.”

First season episodes of Deadwood are now being seen in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil. And the entire debut season has been released on a 720-minute DVD with over 90 minutes of bonus features. “Making Deadwood: The Show Behind the Show” includes exclusive interviews with creator David Milch, Keith Carradine, Ian mcShane, Timothy Olyphant and other series stars, as well as interviews with local included on the DVD recently released by HBO.

Dr. David Wolff, history professor at Black Hills State University, Mary Kopco, director of the Adams Museum and House, and Jerry Bryant, Adams research curator, provide insights about the “real Deadwood.”

Sparking a renewed interest in Deadwood history, the popularity of the HBO series undoubtedly factored into last year’s 11.3 percent increase in Lawrence County visitor spending and an approximate 34 percent increase in visitation at the museum.

Although the story line is fictional, Deadwood recreates the raw realism of the turbulent beginnings of the Northern Hills town.  

           Adams Museum staff members researched and provided accurate historical information on characters, set design, props, costuming, art and make-up to producer David Milch and the HBO creative team.

            First time visitors looking for the town they saw on HBO learn that an 1879 fire wiped out all the original wooden buildings of downtown Deadwood. They are instead directed to a 240-foot facsimile of the Deadwood set, constructed last summer along Sherman Street and US Highway 14A-85. Information about the original buildings is provided by on plaques displayed on wooden facades.

             Historic recreation goes only so far, however. Paved streets and a reconstructed sewer system have eliminated the mud, well mixed with animal and human excreta, so prominent in Deadwood street scenes.                                       

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