So, I just finished watching Deadwood last night, and…holy shit, you guys. Deadwood! Who knew? Why didn’t you tell me? What’s that? You did tell me? You’ve been harassing me for the last seven years that I needed to watch it? Are you sure? And I was just a condescending dick about it? That doesn’t sound like me.
Here’s the thing: I watched the pilot of Deadwood when it first aired, and I was like, “Eh. Westerns aren’t really my thing. And it seems kind of boring.” Well, turns out, nearly a decade later, that Westerns are indeed my thing. And I may have been a touch off on that whole boring thing.
So, I’m very late to the party — between this and finally watching Breaking Bad earlier this year, I’m doing my best to atone for sins of omission past — but Deadwood is obviously fucking great. You don’t need me to launch into a whole song and dance about why it’s so good, because others have already done that quite capably. (That’s what happens when you’re seven years late on something — blog life moves fast.)
Instead, I’ll just celebrate the unequivocal highlight of Deadwood: the dialogue. Watching Deadwood is like listening to a band with incredible lyrics: the pleasures you can ingest merely from language and combinations of words and sounds are immeasurable. Deadwood also featured beautiful cinematography, legendary performances and poignant themes, but David Milch and his team of writers created a style of speaking unique to this set of characters — and after a few episodes, you begin to look forward to it like poetry.
So here are the 11 most memorable, most enduring snippets of dialogue from the show that featured the best dialogue in television history.
11. “Who would argue that the venue was the cause of these happy memories, nor the bill of fare? The bitter coffee, the rancid bacon, those stale biscuits that were tomb and grave to so many insects. No, gentlemen, it was the meandering conversation, the lingering with men of character – some of whom are walking with me now – that was such pleasure to experience, and such a joy now to recall.” – Merrick
10. “And startin’ tomorrow morning, I will offer a personal $50 bounty for every decapitated head of as many of these godless heathen cocksuckers as anyone can bring in. Tomorrow. With no upper limit! That’s all I say on that subject, ‘cept next round’s on the house. And God rest the souls of that poor family. And pussy’s half price, next 15 minutes.” – Al Swearengen
9. “Those that doubt me, suck cock by choice.” – Tom Nuttall
8. “Whiskey does not steady the hand. It just dulls the worry over the hand’s unsteadiness.” – Doc Cochran
7. “Okay, Giganto! Don’t tusk me to death with your tusks.” – Calamity Jane
6. “Day saw advances, Trixie. None miraculous.” – Al Swearengen
5. “The bald contempt of it. Why not come out five abreast, cavorting and taunting – ‘E.B. was left out. E.B. was left out.’ Cocksuckers. Cunt-lickers. I’ll make you filthy gestures. Public service was never my primary career.” – E.B. Farnum
4. “Among humans for grip, the Chinawoman’s snatch has no peer. Among nature, the python is its only rival, though few have lived to tell the tale.” – Cy Tolliver
3. “Wash your fucking mouth. You’ve got seven kinds of cock breath.” – Trixie
2. “Wants me to tell him something pretty.” – Al Swearengen
1. “Could you have been born, Richardson? And not egg-hatched as I’ve always assumed?… I’d like to use your ointment to suffocate you.” – E.B. Farnum