32. DEADWOOD 

Created by David Milch  

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Aired: HBO, 2004-2006

After a dozen years as the bard of NYPD Blue, David Milch’s first created series was a strange, brilliant, and rococo Western set in a Gold Rush town in the Dakota territories, circa the late 1800s. Outwardly, the show portrayed the frontier West’s physical indignities and ruthless chicanery. Within that Milch explored, once again, moral, spiritual and psychological dissolution and redemption. The show’s most ornate feature was its language, the way the characters spoke with a sometimes Shakespearian flourish, soliloquies profane and poetic intermingling with the muck-filled place Milch conjured. After three seasons and 36 episodes – and a devoted audience that didn’t reach the numbers HBO was getting at the time for The Sopranos or Sex & The City – the network canceled Deadwood before the series could resolve itself, citing the cost of its sprawling cast.

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