I am, I admit, part of a tiny minority that has no interest whatsoever in The X Factor or The Apprentice or indeed any reality TV. There is a reason for it, in that I am blessed with friends and family and indeed work colleagues who are more interesting than the reality TV rabble. As a result, I tend to like my TV to be full of stories and characters I wouldn’t normally encounter in my life, whereas reality TV is full of people I’d try to avoid in a queue in Spar.
Deadwood, set in 1876 South Dakota, hits it on the button. It stars Ex-Lovejoy Ian McShane (When did he turn into such a good actor? Probably in Sexy Beast, where he played the menacing homosexual gangland boss Teddy Bass, a character for which forever will ensure the movie was known in teenaged boy circles as “That film where Lovejoy gets it up the arse.” But I digress.) as the appropriately named foul-mouthed saloon and brothel owner Al Swearengen, big shot in the rapidly developing gold rush camp/town of Deadwood. True to usual HBO form, the language is incredibly strong, but it’s a fascinating story, and much is based on true events, with real people such as Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, as well as Swearengen himself, all featuring. An old favourite, Powers Boothe (You’ll know him when you see him.) also features.
Good, solid television, and crammed with all the usual character actors, Deadwood is worth putting on the Christmas stocking list. Just don’t let those of a gentle persuasion watch it.