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  #1  
Old 12-01-2012, 09:00 PM
astro astro is offline
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Why did "Deadwood" get cancelled by HBO at season 3?

I asked this question a few years ago right after the series ended, but there were few hard answers. It seemed like a fantastic show, but then it just got lopped off and many story lines were clumsily truncated or left hanging.

Were the ratings going downhill that bad or what? Have any answers some to light in the last few years?

Last edited by astro; 12-01-2012 at 09:01 PM..
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  #2  
Old 12-01-2012, 09:07 PM
billfish678 billfish678 is offline
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I blame the "cocksuckers".
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  #3  
Old 12-01-2012, 09:10 PM
CarnalK CarnalK is online now
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I think the ratings were OK, but not good enough to make up the costs of running a period piece series.
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  #4  
Old 12-01-2012, 09:16 PM
RikWriter RikWriter is offline
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I thought that the creator wanted to end it so he could move on to John From Cincinnati.
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  #5  
Old 12-01-2012, 09:37 PM
Simplicio Simplicio is offline
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The reason I've usually heard is that it was expensive to produce. Which I never really understood, as they basically used the same sets, costumes and props every episode. One would think those would basically be sunk costs after the first season.
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  #6  
Old 12-01-2012, 09:41 PM
AuntiePam AuntiePam is offline
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We'll probably never know the truth.

Alan Sepinwall interviewed David Milch about the cancellation of Luck, and Deadwood was mentioned.

Quote:
Sepinwall: [Speaking about Luck] I watched the finale again yesterday, and there are a number of moments and lines that feel prophetic — like Marcus saying, "Today's the day they take it all away from us," or Ace's speech at the end — like they were designed to be in a series finale. And that's always how I've viewed the last "Deadwood" episode; like it was a series finale without being intended as one. Were you ever thinking as you wrote this that there would be a chance you wouldn't get to do more?

Milch: [speaking about Luck] No, there was no sense of that on my part. By way of contrast, I absolutely knew when I was writing the last "Deadwood" that it would be the last, and I wrote it intending it as the finale.

Sepinwall: Interesting. I had never heard that before.

Milch: That's the case. I was trying — the last images of Swearengen scrubbing the bloodstain and saying "Wants me to tell him something pretty," that was as close as I felt I could come to a concluding speech.
I call bullshit.

Then there's this article:

Quote:
Deadwood series creator David Milch has said, “I am deeply disappointed by the way things turned out. (HBO) felt like they had to make a choice, and this is how they chose. I know they tried to work it out, and I tried to work it out with them.”

It’s been confirmed that HBO offered to greenlight a small six-episode order of the groundbreaking drama but Milch, who has had bad experiences with so-called “short-order renewals,” rejected the offer. “For my part, I did not want to accept a short order. We couldn’t have done the work the way we wanted. I didn’t want to limp home. My old man used to say, ‘Never go anyplace where you’re only tolerated,’” relates Milch. One source has reported that Milch had already plotted the fourth (presumed final) season episodes.

So in essence, the reason for Deadwood’s ending seems to be a financial one. Milch is working on a new series for HBO (John from Cincinnati) and, due to that commitment, HBO didn’t believe that he would be able to return to Deadwood for quite awhile, delaying the possible start of a Deadwood season four. Deadwood is an expensive show to shoot and it’s assumed that the cable channel didn’t want to (or couldn’t afford to) pay the actor salaries for months while they waited for production to begin.
I think Milch simply lost interest in Deadwood in favor of -- "Oh look, shiny!" -- John from Cincinnati. HBO wanted to keep Milch and they weren't going to insist that he finish Deadwood when he wanted to do something else. That way lies madness, and millions of dollars for a product that wouldn't be up to snuff.

We also have Milch famously saying -- after the cancellation -- that if Ed O'Neill (his original choice) had been cast as Al Swearengen, the show would still be on the air. So even he can't decide on a story!

ETA: Part of the expense was Milch's constant rewriting, not just adding dialogue but adding entire scenes.

Last edited by AuntiePam; 12-01-2012 at 09:42 PM..
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  #7  
Old 12-02-2012, 03:10 AM
Voluble Voluble is offline
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I have read that Milch was having severe issues with his drug use which is one reason there were so many re-writes. He would write something and then hand it to the actor. Apparently he was pretty manic and had suffered from several types of mental illnesses over the years such as OCD and manic depression. It is hard to believe a man could turn out something that brilliant on the fly but I bet his head was constantly swarming with ideas.

I can't remember where I read all of that so take it with a grain of salt. It has been a while now. But in such a situation I can see a cancellation without a very clear reason being given. The fact that John from Cincinnati seemed like a good idea to him probably indicated that something was seriously wrong.

When Deadwood ended is when I cancelled HBO and I haven't subscribed since then.
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  #8  
Old 12-02-2012, 07:41 AM
What the .... ?!?! What the .... ?!?! is offline
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Originally Posted by AuntiePam View Post

We also have Milch famously saying -- after the cancellation -- that if Ed O'Neill (his original choice) had been cast as Al Swearengen, the show would still be on the air. So even he can't decide on a story!

.
Ed O'Neill ?!??!?!? Seriously?
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  #9  
Old 12-02-2012, 07:59 AM
drastic_quench drastic_quench is offline
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Originally Posted by What the .... ?!?! View Post
Ed O'Neill ?!??!?!? Seriously?
He gas a serious theater background and training, IIRC. Married with Children was just a gig he landed.

The cracks were showing in Deadwood anyhow. That boy actor was horrid, Cy's storyline was just spinning its wheels, and there was too much time wasted on that dumbass theater troupe.

Last edited by drastic_quench; 12-02-2012 at 08:02 AM..
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  #10  
Old 12-02-2012, 08:17 AM
DonLogan DonLogan is offline
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I ran a site called SaveDeadwood.net for about three years, following the developments from the time the cancellation was announced up through (and past) when it was time to pull the plug.

The official line was the cost, but I tend to agree with Auntie Pam that Milch may have gotten distracted. I had some correspondence with cast members and none of them ever mentioned a problem with Milch, but I don't necessarily expect that they would.

The condensed timeline of the key events is:

May 11, 2006 - Word leaks that HBO has not renewed the contracts of the cast for a fourth season.

May 14, 2006 - SaveDeadwood.net goes online and begins an intensive effort to lobby the television press.

May 25, 2006 - Fans organized through SaveDeadwood.net place an ad in Daily Variety.

June 2, 2006 - Chris Albrecht, then-CEO of HBO, and David Milch meet in New York and reach a handshake deal to produce a pair of telepics to bring Deadwood to a conclusion.

May 5, 2007 - Chris Albrecht punches out his girlfriend in Las Vegas following the Floyd Mayweather - Oscar De La Hoya fight and is forced to resign a few days later, essentially nullifying his agreement with Milch regarding "Deadwood". The new honchos at HBO want no part of "Deadwood," and Milch subsequently loses interest in doing the films.

July 10, 2008 - Richard Plepler (co-president of HBO following Albrecht's departure) more or less sticks a fork in it at the TCA Summer meeting.

The Wayback Machine has an archive of SaveDeadwood.net from January, 2009 at http://web.archive.org/web/200902011...edeadwood.net/

No guarantee that any of the links there still work.

Last edited by DonLogan; 12-02-2012 at 08:20 AM..
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  #11  
Old 12-02-2012, 11:05 AM
AuntiePam AuntiePam is offline
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Don Logan, thanks for that, and for your efforts to save the show!

Except for the truncated story line with the theater troupe, I think the third season gave us a decent ending. It would have been nice to see the fire and the rebuilding, but that would have been really expensive, if done right, and Milch would have insisted on doing it right.
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  #12  
Old 12-02-2012, 11:12 AM
DMark DMark is offline
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I was pissed off that the show was canceled, but it did allow Timothy Olyphant to go off and do the series, "Justified" - and that has been/continues to be a gem.

Speaking of which - the new season of Justified begins January 8th, so if anyone has not seen this fantastic series, plenty of time to download them and check them out!
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  #13  
Old 12-02-2012, 11:17 AM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Originally Posted by RikWriter View Post
I thought that the creator wanted to end it so he could move on to John From Cincinnati.
Well, we all make mistakes, don't we?
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  #14  
Old 12-02-2012, 12:24 PM
fiddlesticks fiddlesticks is offline
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Someday I'd like to visit the alternate universe where Ed O'Neill got the Swearengen gig just to see how it turned out. And I say this as a shameless O'Neill "fanboy"... I still sort of mourn the short-lived Dragnet reboot he starred in.
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  #15  
Old 12-02-2012, 01:17 PM
jonesj2205 jonesj2205 is offline
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Originally Posted by Voluble View Post
I have read that Milch was having severe issues with his drug use which is one reason there were so many re-writes. He would write something and then hand it to the actor. Apparently he was pretty manic and had suffered from several types of mental illnesses over the years such as OCD and manic depression. It is hard to believe a man could turn out something that brilliant on the fly but I bet his head was constantly swarming with ideas.

I can't remember where I read all of that so take it with a grain of salt.
I believe that was NYPD Blue. It was one of the reasons Jimmy Smits left.
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  #16  
Old 12-02-2012, 01:21 PM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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Originally Posted by DMark View Post

Speaking of which - the new season of Justified begins January 8th, so if anyone has not seen this fantastic series, plenty of time to download them and check them out!
Best news in this thread, or even for this month, IMO!
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  #17  
Old 12-02-2012, 04:39 PM
Fir na tine Fir na tine is offline
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I always found it hard to believe that John from Cincinnati could have come from the same hand that created Deadwood. JFC had to be one of the worst shows in recent memory.
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  #18  
Old 12-03-2012, 12:18 AM
Ellis Dee Ellis Dee is offline
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Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
Well, we all make mistakes, don't we?
That one was unforgivable.

To bail on Deadwood so you can make John From Cincinnati is a crime against humanity.

(To clarify, this has always been my understanding of why Deadwood ended. It wasn't cancelled; Milch bailed.)
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  #19  
Old 12-03-2012, 12:31 AM
Simplicio Simplicio is offline
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Has Milch ever explained what the plan was with John from Cincinnati? It was such a weird mess that I wonder what he thought he was doing.
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  #20  
Old 12-03-2012, 12:52 PM
AuntiePam AuntiePam is offline
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He explains it in this article. You'll need a Milch-to-Normal Person translator.
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  #21  
Old 12-03-2012, 01:01 PM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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Deadwood did sort of peter out in season 3. It's a shame if that happened because Milch lost interest in it.
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  #22  
Old 12-03-2012, 01:11 PM
fiddlesticks fiddlesticks is offline
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Originally Posted by AuntiePam View Post
He explains it in this article. You'll need a Milch-to-Normal Person translator.
Hah... I'm glad I didn't waste too much time looking for that... Oy.
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  #23  
Old 12-03-2012, 01:14 PM
Simplicio Simplicio is offline
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Originally Posted by AuntiePam View Post
He explains it in this article. You'll need a Milch-to-Normal Person translator.
I'm a little sceptical that that was what he told the HBO execs they were buying during the pitch-meeting when he was trying to get them to greenlight it.
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  #24  
Old 12-03-2012, 04:44 PM
AuntiePam AuntiePam is offline
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I'm a little sceptical that that was what he told the HBO execs they were buying during the pitch-meeting when he was trying to get them to greenlight it.
I remember seeing John described as "surf noir". Kem Nunn, who writes surf noir, was involved in the production.

So it's possible that HBO thought they were getting a fairly straight-up dark drama, like The Sopranos. There'd be drugs and a maybe murder or two, in an unusual setting, and with some spectacular surfing scenes.
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  #25  
Old 12-03-2012, 06:44 PM
BMalion BMalion is online now
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I blame the "cocksuckers".
I'm glad I taught you that fucking word.
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  #26  
Old 12-05-2012, 10:47 AM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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Building on DonLogan's post, here's what Wiki has to say about the cancellation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deadwoo...)#Cancellation
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  #27  
Old 12-06-2012, 02:35 PM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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Someday I'd like to visit the alternate universe where Ed O'Neill got the Swearengen gig just to see how it turned out.
We missed out on a lot of crossover Al Bundy/Al Swearengen humor, that's for sure.
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  #28  
Old 12-06-2012, 02:48 PM
damagedgoods damagedgoods is offline
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Just noticed the Deadwood post,read only a few but I gotta say ending the season w/o any sort of violence happen to Hearst sucked.They couldof taken alittle poetic license.Really tho,some of swearingins quote's damn near changed my life philosophy.
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  #29  
Old 12-09-2012, 05:36 AM
damagedgoods damagedgoods is offline
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That is awsome news.I can't find the 3rd season tho,on line at wl. mrt. it's 50 bucks!
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  #30  
Old 12-09-2012, 11:00 PM
Lochdale Lochdale is offline
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Loved Deadwood but the ending was atrocious and the character assassinations that came with it.

It was losing a lot of steam in season three.
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  #31  
Old 12-12-2012, 08:03 AM
Smid Smid is offline
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Originally Posted by fiddlesticks View Post
Someday I'd like to visit the alternate universe where Ed O'Neill got the Swearengen gig just to see how it turned out. And I say this as a shameless O'Neill "fanboy"... I still sort of mourn the short-lived Dragnet reboot he starred in.
Another Dragnet fan. Yes, I really don't doubt that O'Neill would have made a wonderful Swearengen...
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  #32  
Old 12-12-2012, 09:19 AM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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Just noticed the Deadwood post,read only a few but I gotta say ending the season w/o any sort of violence happen to Hearst sucked.They couldof taken alittle poetic license.
They already took a ton of license with the character. But one of the problems with that season was the fact that you knew they couldn't kill Hearst and couldn't even realistically "defeat" him, so it was hard to believe the two sides were really fighting on equal terms. And in the end they couldn't come up with a satisfying way to resolve the conflict.
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  #33  
Old 03-25-2014, 12:29 AM
dykstra79 dykstra79 is offline
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Hey all, greetings and all the salz
I have been noticing cancellations of really good shows before they get there call. I have a few claims ..
Deadwood got canned pry more toward the time period edge. Cmon, they brought in a young wyatt but no Doc ? stupid writers should have learned something
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  #34  
Old 03-25-2014, 01:46 AM
The Second Stone The Second Stone is online now
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They already took a ton of license with the character. But one of the problems with that season was the fact that you knew they couldn't kill Hearst and couldn't even realistically "defeat" him, so it was hard to believe the two sides were really fighting on equal terms. And in the end they couldn't come up with a satisfying way to resolve the conflict.
The conflict ended when the fictional "Hearst" bought or killed all his competitors with his army of Pinkertons and all the little people died or sold their souls for next to nothing. It was the perfect ending to the allegory of entrepreneurship. Back to scrubbing blood off the floors of the whorehouse, an "out damned spot" Lady MacBeth moment. The only thing that could have been better would be a wipe/fade into a modern tourist gift shop with postcards and jewelry boxes and a pull away zoom out on the modern Deadwood street showing all the tourists where people had their dreams.
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  #35  
Old 03-25-2014, 10:18 AM
Omar Little Omar Little is offline
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Well once the zombies started appearing on main street, it was every cocksucker for himself.
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  #36  
Old 03-25-2014, 10:21 AM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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Deadwood got canned pry more toward the time period edge. Cmon, they brought in a young wyatt but no Doc ? stupid writers should have learned something
"Now who can argue with that? I think we're all indebted to Gabby Johnson for clearly stating what needed to be said. I'm particulary glad that these lovely children were here today to hear that speech. Not only was it authentic frontier gibberish, it expressed a courage little seen in this day and age."
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  #37  
Old 03-25-2014, 10:23 AM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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Well, zombies are relevant here. Deadwood was cancelled because the audience all fell asleep.
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  #38  
Old 03-25-2014, 10:54 AM
gaffa gaffa is offline
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I am amused at the people appalled at the idea of Ed O'Neil as Swearengen. That's like doubting that "that guy from Malcolm in the Middle" could handle as role as a crystal meth chemist.
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  #39  
Old 03-25-2014, 11:09 AM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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... a wipe/fade into a modern tourist gift shop with postcards and jewelry boxes and a pull away zoom out on the modern Deadwood street showing all the tourists where people had their dreams.
I like that idea a lot.
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  #40  
Old 03-25-2014, 11:43 AM
AuntiePam AuntiePam is offline
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I am amused at the people appalled at the idea of Ed O'Neil as Swearengen. That's like doubting that "that guy from Malcolm in the Middle" could handle as role as a crystal meth chemist.
I don't see anyone "appalled" at the idea, just surprised.

I am, however, appalled at Milch implying that O'Neill would have saved the show from cancellation. Whatever was wrong with Deadwood, it sure as hell wasn't Ian McShane's performance.
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  #41  
Old 03-25-2014, 12:11 PM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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McShane was incredible, but Milch might've been talking about Ed O'Neil's star power rather than his talent.
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  #42  
Old 03-25-2014, 01:48 PM
BrokenBriton BrokenBriton is offline
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I think it just all detracts from Milch being a near basket-case and too *out here* for HBO to trust with another $100 million+ for S4.

He may be off the marching powder but he still can't keep his story straight. The man lost it. He was really sprawling towards the end of S3.

Great show, great, great dialogue - in a way I'm glad it died young.

Last edited by BrokenBriton; 03-25-2014 at 01:50 PM..
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  #43  
Old 03-25-2014, 02:27 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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Whatever was wrong with Deadwood, it sure as hell wasn't Ian McShane's performance.
Deadwood: It couldn't get so bad as to pull Ian McShane's performance into teh suck.
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  #44  
Old 03-25-2014, 10:23 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is online now
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Well, zombies are relevant here. Deadwood was cancelled because the audience all fell asleep.
Why did you have to mention zombies and Deadwood? I never knew I wanted to see something so much until it was mentioned, and the knowledge I'll never see Al Swearengen and Bullock and Jane fighting off reanimated Jewel, Cy, and Wu while Doc feverishly looks for a cure and Merrick preys on the town's boys (but turns out not to be a zombie) causes despair.

In spite of the failure of COWBOYS AND ALIENS, I'll bet the right person could get a megamillion dollar commitment right now if they went into a studio office and said "zombies in the HBOld West".
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