Way out West

Two nights ago I finished reading a book, Hollywood Station, by Joseph Wambaugh, author of The Choirboys and The Onion Field. Today, I'm watching the first season of Deadwood on DVD.

I've not read any of Wambaugh's other books though his election to Grand Master status in 2004 speaks well of his body of work. I can say that Hollywood Station is a very well written book though written in an unusual style.

When reading Hollywood Station you have a feeling like you're reading a cop's diary of what has been going on at the station for the past month or so. There's a staccato delivery and abundant use of cop talk that gives such strong immediacy. Of course if you're not familiar with some of the terms--and many of them I'd not heard before--you can feel a little lost.

There's a large number of characters in the book and Wambaugh gives them all life but you have to really concentrate at times to keep on top of things. Since each pair of cops is experiencing different sets of information, only some shared with other teams, it's important to remember who knows what to follow how the plot develops. The payoff for reading carefully is a good one. This is a very good police procedural.

I've not seen Deadwood before I started watching Season One last night though like most people I have heard quite a bit about it. I must say that there's been no exaggeration about the profanity. *whew* The dialog can blister the ears. Amazing acting though. I'm very impressed with the quality of the writing and production as well as the acting. It's hard to believe that television can be this good--not many movies hold up to this standard of work. I've only seen the first 4 episodes so far but already I'm a true believer. I like Deadwood more than The Sopranos and that had previously been my standard for high quality on cable TV.

The DVDs I'm watching are from the library and they only have the first two seasons there. I might have to buy Season 3 since I'm not about to subscribe to HBO and I don't want to wait for the library to get around to buying the current season--that might take years. They just bought the first two seasons a month ago. The 3 seasons list at $100, Amazon is selling them at $70 but that's still a little rich for my blood. I'll add season 3 to my cart and buy it if it goes on sale. I'd probably pay $50 for it but I'm kinda cheap so it depends on how I'm feeling that day.


Cynnie said…
I couldnt get into deadwood..I dont know why..

I grew up on westerns..reading and watching..so you'd think it be a no brainer.

I am LOVING Dexter..although as far as I know I've never even met a serial killer..

there goes all that reasoning
GA Girl said…
My fav is Six Feet Under although I did like the Sopranos. The Wire is supposed to be great - it's on my Netflix list. Since I don't get premium channels haven't watched Dexter - but heard good things about it. I fell for Michael C. Hall's acting in Six feet under so I bet he's wonderful as the serial killer ;)
I LOVED "DEADWOOD"...And think it is a shame that HBO canceled it, and very quickly, too, so that a lot of the story lines were sort of left up in the air...They said there would be two, two hour films to follow---BUT, so far...NADA! Great writing, Great Acting ALL Around, and fantastic production values. I agree with you on the HIGH Quality, though The Sopranos is still FIRST in my book....

About Jerry Herman: In my opinion, both "HELLO DOLLY" and "MAME" were much much better on the stage....The films, in both cases were NOT up to the STAGE Productions.....Carol Channing in "Dolly" and Angela Lansbury in "Mame....THE BEST!!!
The stage show of Jerry Herman's "LA CAGE" has not been made into a film....there are other versions, of course..."BIRDCAGE" was delightful, in every way, as were the two original French Films the show was based on....!

I like Wanbaugh's writing very much, and certainly it always has the ring of authenticity....I bet you will enjoy his earlier books, too, Dave.
Cynnie said…
you look good with facial hair..
utenzi said…
Cyn, the more hidden, the better. I agree with you 100%.

Naomi, I do think I'll start reading Wanbaugh's earlier books. He's got a very interesting perspective--and like you say, the authenticity is certainly there.

JL, you have a lot more experience with those top shelf series than I do. I do want to watch most of those shows and since the library here just picked up a lot of them last month... once the kids are out for the summer I'll give the DVDs a shot.
Michael Manning said…
Hi, Utenzi: This is all new to me, so I'll have to put it on my list!
Anonymous said…
Since you liked "Hollywood Station" (Wambaugh's first novel in a decade), I would recommend that you pick up "The Choirboys" next. Very similar in style and tone to "Hollywood", albeit a bit darker and more melancholy. I first read "Choirboys" over 20 years ago and there are moments in that novel that stick with me to this day.

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