Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Al Swearengen: An Appreciation

By Hilary Davidson

First, let me admit that that I'm a bad-luck charm. If I love a television show, you can pretty much count on it being cancelled. Take, for example, the phenomenal Terriers, which lasted all of one season. I enjoyed Dead Like Me and Pushing Daisies, and look what happened to them. Journeyman, Damages, and Rome are all victims. I thought The Ben Stiller Show was the funniest thing on TV, so it got the gong.

Deadwood actually survived three seasons of my love, which is a rare thing. I still miss it, and there's no character I miss more than Al Swearengen. I was already a fan of Ian McShane's before the show aired (thanks to Lovejoy, which I — fortunately — discovered after that series had been filmed; also because of the film Sexy Beast), but nothing prepared me for the wonder of Al.

Who could have imagined that this twisted wreck of a human being would end up being so lovable? Al is a foul-mouthed, vile-tempered, murderous, thieving, scheming pimp. He's generally embarrassed by his good impulses (he takes care of a crippled woman named Jewel, giving her a job cleaning his whorehouse, but he verbally abuses her, too... though, to be fair, Jewel's got an awesome mouth on her; Al generally doesn't mind being sassed back by loyal employees). When Al is being compassionate, he's no less scary than when he's being bad. One of his kindest acts is the mercy-killing of Reverend Smith, a man who'd lost his mind and was in agonizing pain; when Al smothered him, he said, "You can go now, brother" — which was about as sentimental as Al ever got.

Here he is in all his brutal glory. (Note to those offended by cursing or graphic violence: DO NOT WATCH. Also, this is definitely NSFW. Consider yourself warned!)


R.I.P. Al Swearengen. I'm not the only one who misses him, am I?

10 comments:

DP Lyle,MD said...

Shakespeare in the Black Hills. I miss Deadwood.

DP Lyle
http://www.dplylemd.com

Hilary Davidson said...

Pretty sure I'll be quoting you on "Shakespeare in the Black Hills," Doug. Thanks for stopping by!

Gabi said...

I've never seen this but I love Ian. Netflicks here I come.

a.e. Tyree said...

A brilliant series, and Ian was amazing in it. The writing was spectacular, and the acting among the best. If you haven't seen this series, rent it now.

Eric Beetner said...

One of the all time best characters. I still miss him too, along with all the denizens of Deadwood.

Hilary Davidson said...

Gabi, I'm thrilled to be the person who's turned you on to Deadwood. It's an incredible show. Just don't blame me when you get to the end of Season 3 and you want more!

Thanks to A.E. and to Eric for stopping by. I love knowing that there are others who still mourn for Deadwood.

Heath Lowrance said...

One of the all time best characters on TV. I liked that, as the seasons progressed, we got to see that he was a much more complex character than was immediately apparent.

bernadette said...

If you drank everyone his character swore, you'd surely be drunk. Loved this show.

Reece said...

A fitting tribute, Hilary. I always particularly enjoyed Al's conversations with the severed Indian head.

Hilary Davidson said...

Eric, I miss all of the characters from Deadwood. What a crazy, motley crew — and a brilliant, talented cast.

Bernadette, that would be the wildest drinking game *ever.* During some lines of Al's dialogue, you'd have to keep drinking... and drinking... and drinking!

Reece, Al's scenes with the severed Indian head were priceless. That was Al's version of therapy. He always seemed to be soothed by it...

Thanks to everyone for stopping by!