HBO tries its hand at the western series 'Deadwood'

MUMBAI: A hell of a place to make your fortune! Over the past couple of years English movie channels Star Movies and HBO have broadened their offerings through mini series. Earlier Star Movies had announced that it would air the adventure series Lost in India from September.

Now HBO has announced it will commence airing the period western drama Deadwood from 1 August every Monday after the 9 pm movie.

The year is 1876 and the town of Deadwood in the state of South Dakota in the weeks following the death of General George Armstrong Custer in the famous battle of the Little Bighorn is a lawless sinkhole of crime and corruption. Deadwood is an illegal settlement, a violent and uncivilized outpost that attracts a colorful array of characters looking to get rich — from outlaws and entrepreneurs to ex-soldiers and racketeers, Chinese labourers, prostitutes, city dudes and gunfighters.

Into this uncivilised outpost ride a disillusioned and bitter ex-lawman, Wild Bill Hickok, and Seth Bullock, a man hoping to find a new start for himself. Both men find themselves quickly on opposite sides of the legal and moral fence from Al Swearengen, saloon owner, hotel operator, and incipient boss of Deadwood.

The lives of these three intertwine with many others, the high-minded and the low-lifes who populate Deadwood. The show stars Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane and Molly Parker. Deadwood's lovable bad guy is Machiavellian saloonkeeper McShane, who has a vested interest in keeping his unincorporated South Dakota camp lawless. He batters his prostitutes, harangues his lackeys, and arranges murders to protect his gold-mining swindles. He's an incorrigible wheeler-dealer, contracting services for "$10 or a ball of dope," and keeping his customers from fleeing the saloon to join a lynch mob by promising "pussy half-off, next 15 minutes."

Olyphant plays the town's conscience, a department-store proprietor Timothy Olyphant. Powers Boothe meanwhile plays another negative character. He opens a classier saloon/casino/brothel across the street, but quickly reveals himself to be just as ruthlessly amoral as McShane. The show's creator David `and his crew study how civilisations get built out of chaos, through subtle power plays and calculated bloodletting in a place "in the middle of nowhere, where nobody's looking."

The show is said to have unflinching realism, adult themes and inventive storylines. While it is good to see a Western back on screen after quite a while how well it attracts Indian viewers will remain to be seen.

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