Sunday, December 3, 2006


So, now that I know how it works, here's another shot of my "Captain Bubb" character on the DEADWOOD set with Coyote's "General Crook" and one with me and the creator of DEADWOOD, David Milch.
I meant what I said about that show being as close to Shakespeare as TV has gotten, and I will miss watching it, a lot. One of the few TV shows I followed.
I dug some of the writing and acting on THE SOPRANOS, but it was much more uneven to my taste. And also, growing up in that area and knowing some guys from those kinds of families, some of the stuff seemed a little too Hollywood and not enough Jersey. But don't get me wrong, some kick ass acting and writing overall.
But DEADWOOD I thought beat everything for character and plot and language, despite the objections to the foulness of the latter. It was historically accurate to a large extent (though with some modern ringers in there too) and what I was accused of doing in my early writing too but was just an expression of what I grew up around (not in my family except for one uncle but definitely in the neighborhood).
The only real objection I had to DEADWOOD was its treatment of the Irish. The actress who played Trixie, a complex and compelling character, is actually from Ireland, but uses an American accent. The only characters in the show to use Irish accents appeared early on and were typical old stereotypes, drunken idiots who shit their pants etc.
I couldn't figure out if the theater guy was supposed to be Irish. The actor is, but the historical figure wasn't I'm pretty sure.
One of Hearst's men didn't have an Irish accent but boasted of being part of the Irish fighting 69th in "the war" but he turns out to be cowardly.
You couldn't get away with that, I don't think, with any other ethnic group. The only openly Jewish character, Bulluck's partner Starr, (am I getting the names right?) is also the only character on the show who never displays any bad traits.
The Black characters sometimes do, but most often are noble or expressions of other positive qualities. Though I wondered when the historically real Black "Deadwood Dick" was going to make his entrance.
Oh well, can't have everything. I'm honored to have had a small part in what I see as one of TV's greatest shows.


Terence Patrick Winch said...

Dear Michael:

I couldn't agree with you more about the pervasively negative depictions of the Irish in t.v. and film. One of the most vivid cases of this, in my memory, is Ragtime, in which the Irish are uniformly shown to be sneaky, nasty scoundrels. I once called Richard Price on his Irish characters. I like Price's work a lot, and even wrote a rave review of his novel Ladies Man for the Washington Post, but I hated the way he always made his Irish characters sadistic, or vile, or cowardly. He didn't seem to get what I was driving at---which I think only proves that the Irish are an easy, no-penalty target.

On Deadwood's Shakespearean greatness, however, I part company with you. Although I truly admire Milch's creative strengths, I found the language uttered by his characters impossible to listen to---it is so stylized, contrived, "made-up" sounding. While I found the insanely profuse use of "fuck" in all its forms to be lots of fun, I thought the rest of the vocabulary given to the characters very hard to swallow--- auditorially, that is.

Alameda Tom said...

Well, I look at it this way. The language "given" to the characters by Shakespeare is pretty hard to swallow too. I doubt that the commoners that Shakespeare breathed dialog into would have had such a rich, witty, and intelligent way of speaking in the "real life" of the time. Shakespearean dialog is a beautiful argot. It always takes my ear about 10 or 15 minutes to get back into that argot when I hear a play or movie by Willy the Shake as Lord Buckley called him.

Likewise, the writing on Deadwood is a beautiful argot too. Just like my Shakespeare experiences, I have to "tune up" my ear for Deadwood if I haven't seen it for a while, like when I'm catching a rerun just to hear it again.

Now, if you want some writing that is (I believe) stunningly authentic, check out "The Wire." IMHO, the best writing for TV ever. Especially this year. The dialog written for the "corner boys" and the school students is scary and heartbreaking at the same time. And, the kids they dug up to play those characters are so real it's like I'm a voyeur peeking through a virtual key hole. Course it doesn't hurt to have Richard Price, Dennis Lehane, and George Pelecanos writing multiple episodes this year.


~ Tom

Lisa Duggan said...

You look so completely different - transformed - in this get-up.
Deadwood; my hubby's absolute favorite and he too considered it Shakespeare.

Thanks for tonight. Let's go to Cecil's, soon.

Lisa Duggan