‘Deadwood: The Movie’ reviews: Did 13 years of absence make critics’ hearts grow fonder for HBO’s Western?

HBO’s Western “Deadwood” was abruptly cancelled after a three-season run (2004-2006), but 13 years off the air have burnished its reputation in a way that only comes when you’re cut down in your prime — consider the undiminished fan bases for other short-lived shows like “Twin Peaks,” “My So-Called Life,” “Freaks and Geeks” and “Firefly.” But in this era of reboots and revivals, “Deadwood” has now returned with its original cast more than a decade later for a movie that ties up many of its loose ends. It premiered on May 31.

Judging from the reviews, “Deadwood: The Movie” sticks the landing. As of this writing it has a MetaCritic score of 84 based on 15 reviews, of which 14 are positive and 1 is mixed. And on Rotten Tomatoes it’s rated 98% fresh based on 42 reviews (only 1 is classified as negative). It’s described as “emotionally satisfying,” “wholly welcome” and “lovely.” Lead actors Timothy Olyphant (as lawman Seth Bullock) and Ian McShane (as unscrupulous saloon owner Al Swearengen) make “triumphant, foul-mouthed returns.”

But will it win Emmys as a TV movie that it was never able to win as a drama series? During its original run it claimed eight prizes from the television academy, but almost all of them were in Creative Arts categories. The only award it won during an Emmy telecast was for Walter Hill‘s direction of the pilot episode in 2004. McShane lost his lone Best Drama Actor nomination in 2005, and the show lost its only Best Drama Series bid that same year.

Perhaps it was ahead of its time. The television academy was still getting used to cable prestige dramas in the mid-2000s, but nowadays voters are embracing far more unconventional shows like “Game of Thrones,” “Westworld,” “Stranger Things” and “The Handmaid’s Tale.” And Emmy voters might also want to pay tribute to “Deadwood” creator David Milch, a past Emmy winner for “Hill Street Blues” and “NYPD Blue” who penned this movie even though he’s suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Check out some of the reviews of the “Deadwood” film below, and make or update your Emmy predictions here in our predictions center to let us know if you think it will win top prizes.

Kaitlin Thomas (TV Guide): “It is an emotionally satisfying follow-up that provides a sense of closure for most of the significant relationships that came to define ‘Deadwood’ over its run, yet it also invites you to stick around to find out what happens next … You don’t need to have seen the series, which ran on HBO from 2004 to 2006, to enjoy it.”

James Poniewozik (New York Times): “It can’t, in its abbreviated run, recreate the series’s full glory, but it does offer that glory a wistful toast. It’s not entirely necessary, but it’s wholly welcome. The dream stands before you, gutter-splashed and expletive-deleted lovely … The old ways are passing, symbolized by the physical decrepitude of Al, whom McShane plays magisterially as a lion in very late December.”

Mekeisha Madden Toby (Variety): “Ian McShane and Timothy Olyphant make a triumphant, foul-mouthed return to HBO’s Western … Although there are moments where the table setting lasts a little too long — the meat of the action via a murder doesn’t take place for 40 minutes — time matters less when you’re catching up with old friends. Better still is the increased pace and gunfire the film experiences after said death.”

Allison Keene (Collider): “‘Deadwood: The Movie’ comes 13 years after the official close of the series, and almost feels like a murderous, profanity-laden UK Christmas Special in how it unites the characters together for a short narrative that delivers the emotional goods … There is something cozy and familiar about seeing all of these friends brought together once again to face down the town’s nastiest foe.”

Be sure to make your Emmy predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before nominations are announced on July 16. And join in the fun debate over the 2019 Emmy taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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