Season 1 Episode 1

Pilot - Deadwood

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Mar 21, 2004 on HBO

Episode Fan Reviews (6)

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out of 10
240 votes
  • The first episode of 'Deadwood'.

    Most of it's purpose was to introduce the characters.

    The episode begins with a man being executed by Sheriff Seth Bullock and his partner Sol Star before they depart to this new town called 'Deadwood', where there is no law.

    Also new in town, a well-known man called Wild Bill Hickok. He immediately makes many friends and foes.

    Bullock and Hickok get to know each other after being informed that there had been an entire family killed. Once they get there, Bullock finds the youngest member of the family to be still alive. The killer turned out to be the informer, and Seth and Bill gun him down.

    Also in Deadwood, we meet Al Swearengen, who runs a gem saloon. He and his henchmen try to con this wealthy man called Brom Garret into buying a gold claim.

    The Pilot episode works very well as the introduction of the series. The costume design and sets are realistic and the performances are memorable.

    Although nothing truly stands out, it was a well-written and produced Pilot episode that introduced the show quite nicely.

    Four stars.
  • it Revels the characters for this show and why are they in Deadwood and is one of the best pilots i have seen.

    so the pilot didn't hook me on the show but i really did like it it took me 3 more eps to hook me in, but showing the sherif Seth bullock as this bad ass sherif. and showing what is deadwood and what kind of characters there are. it shows how hardcore this show is and sets up the story of the first story and with a 1 hour time it it just shows you the characters that play the key parts. plus the camp deadwood how it shows whats it like living there with no law and how tuff you are and introducing the stories for the main characters like the drug problem for albma. just a great piolt and it has to be one of the best ones i have seen.
  • David Milch's Deadwood starts off with a strong first episode.

    Deadwood, one of the best shows of all time. When I first sat down to watch this on DVD I didn't know what I was getting myself into. Mr. Milch pulls you into a world of exciting plots and deep characters and a great way to start off the show. I don't want to give too much away but this is one good episode, I like how he introduces us to Bullock and Swearengen and this whole community that you feel for and your root for and you pull for for the entire first episode, the entire first season and for the entire show. A great first episode to start off a great season and show.
  • The beginning of something beautifully ugly.

    And so we begin our trip into the ‘wild west’, following a few average civilians, hoping to make a fresh new start in the newly built town of Deadwood. Who’s to say what kind of ride it will be? However, judging by this opening episode, it sure isn’t going to be pretty, which is fortunate, because that’s just what I want from a show dealing with such a subject matter.

    As far as an episode goes, Deadwood hits the nail on the head and delivers technical perfection after technical perfection. In terms of entertainment, it misses a few times but more or less delivers on the fact that if you love great writing, direction and acting, you’ll be more than captivated by the performances by cast and crew here. You see, there’s not that much going on in Deadwood just yet and most of those guys you seen on screen just now, are just starting to get to know each other, so in a way it’s excusable, technically speaking. For a series opener however, I would have expected a little more plot. Sure, there’s some things going on, but they get resolved far too quickly and easily and before you know it, they’re out the window and the episode moves onto another subject.

    That’s it though. That’s all that was bad about this episode and quite frankly, the good outweighs the bad by a whole lot. There’s some brilliant scenes in Deadwood, in particular the opening hanging scene and the moments with Ian McShane as Al Swearengen all shine with pure golden quality that puts so many other series’ to shame. As a counterbalance to the lack of plot in the episode, what we are treated to is a whole host of characters that may seem uninteresting at first but will surely grow on you by the time the credits come on screen. There’s plenty of character development in this episode which is essential in an opening episode, probably even more so than plot, and it’s all spot on.

    Furthermore, what will strike you about this pilot or series as a whole is the honesty presented within. This isn’t you typical western movie of White vs. Black. Neither is it fronting heroes with a few bad qualities and sympathetic villains. Deadwood is about people. Deadwood is about human beings. Deadwood isn’t a pretty program in the slightest and it isn’t exactly a positive reflection on ourselves at out purist, primal form. There’s no shortage of violence here, and more profanity than your average TV show dealing with the specific timeframe and events. That however, is what makes it interesting TV, captivating entertainment and above all else, amazing to watch unfold. Luckily the show has all the right tools to put these themes into action though with some brilliant performances, wonderful direction and brutal writing that gets right down to the bottom of what Deadwood wants to say.
  • "The board is set..."

    "No law at all in Deadwood..."

    The movie takes the first 5 minutes to describe the town of Deadwood from Clell Watsons perspective, preparing us for a possible story involving the latter and Seth Bullock(Timothy Olyphant). And while brilliantly managing to sketch a sufficiently detailed character, in an even more original fashion the writers twist it all around when Seth hangs Clee "under color of law". The romantic, adventurous, novel type Deadwood that Clell speaks of vanishes before our eyes, together with Seths image of a hero of absolute justice and truth. The characters here will not be symbols of primal emotions, they will not be split in good or bad: They will be complex characters that embody all the traits human, who will be unpredictable in their actions and who will make decisions so bold and so contradictory that we cannot but stop and admire the realism the cast and crew of Deadwood have breathed into this memorable show.

    In this manner the pilot takes its time introducing us to the heroes of this truly wild west. Lifting the curtain, we will be introduced to all the splendors and horrors of that time and all through one representative settlement: the town of Deadwood, lead by the ruthless Al Swearengen(Ian McShane) who is the mirror image of everything good and bad in the town, its heart both literally and figurately, why not, its physical counterpart.

    We will also meet the legendary Wild Bill Hickok(Keith Carradine), who accompanied by Charlie Utter(Dayton Callie) and Calamity Jane(Robin Weigert), comes here to seek his fortune and settle down. Another notable character who will have a beautiful development further on is reverend Smith, portrayed by Ray McKinnon.

    The slaughter of a family gives the writers the pretext to establish the relations between all these characters. Al's determination, cunning, energy, intelligence, powerful will and leadership are seen in his false speech about the tragic event mentioned earlier, while
    the obvious similarities between an old hero such as Hickok and a young sheriff from Montana are also revealed. Though not yet obvious from this episode the quick bond between the two might suggest that Bill represents a paternal figure, or at least an indirect mentor, for the still inexperienced Bullock: "Was that me or you, Montana?" - in their speed and judgement they are the same, announcing that one day Bullock might take Bills place. The event also shows that the two of them can't escape their destinies no matter how far they try to run. They are needed to maintain the balance opposing Al Swearengen.

    And so, the pilot prepares us for this clash between titans that will take place at one time or another and leaves us wondering what extraordinary turn of events will things take in Deadwood when the sun will next rise. It builds tension without releasing it, giving the false impression that nothing important has happened, and this is exactly what makes this episode so beautiful.

    As for the technical details what is there to say. Great art direction, sets, costumes, make-up and of course one of the best ensemble casting i have ever seen. It's simply beautiful from just about all points of view.
  • So Out Of Context!

    The first half of the episode was very very bad considering that in the old west nobody would have used language like that, but i must say it did pick up to the point where it did become quite exciting in the second half. Nothing was wrong with the acting so that is why it gets a 7.