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Monday, June 06, 2011

Deadwood 1x01 Pilot

I only got around to watching Deadwood about 6 months ago, after the insistence of a few friends.  I'd known it was right up my alley, that it was a badass show, but for some reason I'd just never found the time for it.

Then I learned that you can rent DVDs from the Toronto Public Library.

And the Heavens parted.

Anyways, I'm getting off topic here.

Today I read Deadwood 1x01, a 68 page script by one Mr. David Milch (download here) dated August 19/20, 2002 .  This baby clocked in at four full acts.  Yep.  That's it.  No teaser or tag or cold open.  Four acts. No muss, no fuss.

Welcome to Cable TV.

I think what interested me most about this script -- one that looks quite similar to a shooting script in a number of ways (including scene numbers) -- was how different parts of the script were from what actually made it up on screen.  Right off the top, that whole brilliant conversation between Bullock and the doomed prisoner... simply isn't in the script at all.  In fact, there's a would-be hangman in the script that's nowhere to be found in the episode proper.

Needless to say, I started to wonder if I'd gotten an earlier draft, but as time marched on and most of the rest of the script lined up with what I knew... I don't know, maybe they wrote something on the fly that didn't make it into the script proper?

What I love about this script is the way it manages to juggle three separate sets of characters, each with their own storyline.  Yes, you see them bounce off each other from time to time -- and some surely more than others -- but by and large, it's three groups of people, each with their own flaws and goals and ideals trying to make their way (or maintain their way) in the town.

SIDE NOTE: Holy crap is there a lot of scenes and locations and characters in this show -- I haven't had the heart to go back and count them all, but I'm guessing that this is the kind of setup that you can only get on Cable TV.  Wow.

Another interesting thing is that even at almost 70 pages, the script never seems to bog down too much or get lost in all the hubbub.  In fact, it just keeps right on chugging, clipping its way through the plot until we reach the... rather anti-climactic end, really.

And I think, if I've got any real complaints about this script at all, it's that the ending itself is just so darned soft compared to the exciting events that'd just transpired the scene before (Hickok and Bullock taking down the criminal transitions to Trixie laying down in bed with Swearengen... and we're out).  I'm not entirely sure what the 'better' ending would be (yes, apparently I am that stuck up my own ass... to be unhappy with an outcome but not have any real solutions), but what's here just seems to much of a quiet moment for my tastes. 

The calm before the storm?  Maybe.

In a way -- and, oddly, in contrast to my last review of the Friends script -- I found it hard to separate myself from what I know about the show and what is primarily here in the script.  I read Al Swearengen's parts in Ian McShane's gravelly voice, I picture Bullock and see Timothy Olyphant.  It was a fun read, for sure, but I look at my notes and realize that I didn't spend a whole lot of time trying to be objective.

I'll definitely work on that going forward.

Finally, one bit of Technical note: this was another script that didn't skimp on the description but it did flow exceedingly well, with almost every single scene leading into the next scene and description.

Very cool.

Anyways, a fun script for a great TV show -- tomorrow, is the Pilot for Party Down.

Until then, cheers!

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