So I’m watching HBO’s Deadwood again for the umpteenth time. I’m a sucker for good dialogue and Deadwood has some of the best. Not only good scripting but some of the cleverest, and unexpected, word usage I’ve ever experienced, utilized in a Western no less.
Ian McShane is a gift as Swearengen. Ruthless, profane, complicated, and the most self aware and discerning of all the characters. He doesn’t commit sin. He inhabits it. But he doesn’t kid himself about it.
Besides McShane, Brad Dourif’s Doc Cochran is my next favorite character. Like Swearengen, Cochran is self aware, but he has limits on how far he’ll go. He’s a conscience of sorts to Swearengen. And while he isn’t particularly kind, he is the most humane character on the show.
Humanity seems to be in short supply these days. Self awareness has evaporated into the ether. Our leaders would rather cling to some modern form of Manifest Destiny rather than admit that they don’t have a clue as to what they’re doing. That they’ve steered into a dead end. And that it’s time to admit that we’ve made a grave electoral error.
I’m not particularly hopeful that this ship will right itself any time soon, if ever. No one seems to be willing to take any real risk in the effort.
Meanwhile I’m content to watch McShane and Dourif ply their trade. Nobody in Deadwood ever kids themselves.