Launched in 2004 and running for three seasons before an abrupt cancellation, HBO’s critically acclaimed western series Deadwood is still regarded as one of the network’s greatest achievements. Shortly after the plug was pulled, series creator David Milch was working on a deal to wrap up Season Three’s cliffhanger with a pair of two-hour films that would close the book on the Deadwood saga once and for all, but negotiations eventually fell apart and Milch moved on to other projects.
But fans have never given up hope, regularly asking series stars and HBO executives about the possibility of a revival, and late last year word the network confirmed early talks had begun to give Deadwood the sendoff it deserved. The sentiment was reinforced during a Television Critics Association panel in January, where HBO’s programming president confirmed “it’s going to happen,” and now Ian McShane – who portrayed saloon owner Al Swearengen on the show – has weighed in.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly about returning to the role that many fans consider one of the greatest television villains of all time, McShane said:
“Of course I’d love to reprise that. How could one not, when it was snatched away rather unjustly by a combination of forces we’ll never know about – hubris or money or whatever. But [Deadwood] certainly finished too early. At the time, most of us working on the show were incredulous. It’s been announced by HBO so its not like I’m saying it. I know for a fact David is working on the script.
It’s been 10 years since it finished. [Star Timothy Olyphant’s] free from Justified. I’m hoping they’ll make the deal soon, for two or four hours, whatever they decide on. It was a very close knit group of actors on it. We got along very well. I’m sure David will decide to set it 10 years later, after the great fire or whatever happened in Deadwood. They haven’t done the deal yet. They [were planning] to do it late this year or early next year.”
It’s interesting that McShane mentions the “great fire” which destroyed the Gem Saloon and a large portion of the real-life town’s buildings. The series was originally rumored to end with that event, if not shortly thereafter – and while the idea of jumping forward 1o years makes sense, given that everyone involved with the show has obviously aged in that time, there are still a significant number of unresolved plot points from the end of the third season.
Regardless, it sounds like the long-awaited Deadwood film is making some progress, and if the cast reunites to go before the camera early next year, then it’s possible we could return to the Old West by the end of 2017. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more.
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