New York Magazine

Sundown on Deadwood

David Milch’s TV Western gets a bittersweet ending—and just in time.
David Milch on the set of Deadwood: The Movie.

DEADWOOD: THE MOVIE will air on HBO on May 31.

DEADWOOD CREATOR David Milch says he always had faith that his HBO Western would someday get to wrap up its story, even as more than a dozen years have passed since its surprise cancellation in 2006. But he also had doubts. Only when the cameras started rolling on Deadwood: The Movie—a TV movie set ten years after the show’s last episode—could he exhale. “Let’s just say that the exigencies of the business threw up a series of roadblocks over the years,” says Milch, walking along the main thoroughfare at Melody Ranch Studios on a cold December night, his wife, Rita, by his side. “Somehow, they were all surmounted.”

When the sun goes down on Melody Ranch—a Newhall, California, production facility that has hosted many film and TV Westerns—a sense of isolation creeps in. You can hear the wind rustling in the wooded hills, and every now and then a coyote yelps or an owl hoots. It’s easy to imagine that this outdoor sound-stage, with its temporarily dormant camera tracks and arc lights, is truly the place it pretends to be: a dirty, lawless camp that became a town in a territory that’s now on the cusp of becoming a U.S. state (South Dakota), its populace more civil than when the series was canceled but still wild at heart. Horses are tied

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