The last week has not been much fun. There have been no major changes that prompted my mood to drop, although there have been a few stressors. I get better, I get worse. Life goes on. I don’t think that I’m ever going to get really clear of this damned black dog. But after a certain amount of trips around the merry-go-round of depression I manage to endure it as best I can.
One way I do this is by living vicariously via quality TV. A number of shows have been a huge comfort and welcome distraction during my lower times – mostly American cable TV series. The Wire, The Shield, Rome, Six Feet Under, Mad Men and Breaking Bad, among others, have helped me through some rough times. I can’t tolerate idiotic television anymore, but watching something of substance is a great help to me.
Most recently I’ve been living vicariously in the 1870s, rewatching the second season of Deadwood. Despite being Australian, I grew up watching reruns of Westerns on weekend afternoons, watching John Wayne charge with the cavalry and gun down Indians. Later I appreciated Clint Eastwood’s Westerns – The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly, The Outlaw Josey Wales, and Unforgiven almost seem like a trilogy to me, marking the evolution of Eastwood and the genre.
But I hadn’t watched Westerns for some years when Deadwood came around. A HBO series that ran from 2004 to 2006, it was based around the true story of Deadwood, South Dakota, a small mining settlement illegally founded on Indian territory after gold is discovered. All sorts of people are drawn there in search of their fortune, some to find gold, others to make their fortune by fleecing the miners.
Many of the characters were based on real people, and the most memorable of them would have to be Al Swearengen. A foul-mouthed, woman-beating, murderer, pimp and saloon owner, he nevertheless comes across as being human, believable, and even vulnerable, thanks to a superb performance by Ian McShane.
Swearengen, despite being a real bastard who earned the unpleasant death he received in real life, was apparently quite a smooth operator. And in the series as well, he dominates practically every scene he is in. Despite his many faults, he has the odd word of wisdom to dispense. One short scene that has kept me going several times is viewable below.