Al-Swearengen-deadwood-16934281-1707-25608 years ago, a friend told me that Deadwood was the best television show ever made.

At the time, I was hooked on The Wire, and I couldn’t imagine any show being better. Also, the genre of Westerns isn’t something that’s ever excited me in any format (movies, TV, books, games, etc.), so despite my friend’s praise for Deadwood, I didn’t try it.

This summer, I finally told Netflix to send me a Deadwood DVD. The first episode was really confusing–it pulls no punches, and it throws you into a number of complex social interactions about people you don’t know.

It was a bold move to start the show that way, and it pays off. By the end of the first episode, I was starting to figure out what was happening, and I wanted to know more.

Tonight I finished the last episode of the first season, and I’m in awe of how good Deadwood is. The acting, the characters, the sets, the production value–you can’t tell at all that the show was filmed nearly 15 years ago.

The writing in particular is superb. At its heart, Deadwood is a show about the start of a tiny town. It’s a brutal time and place (not for the faint of heart), and there are so many connections between characters, especially in relation to Al Swearengen (who, true to his name, is constantly swearing).

It also helps that I’ve been watching Deadwood while designing a game about the founding of a village (Charterstone).

I don’t know if Deadwood is the best show ever made. There are too many great shows in various genres to hand out that title. But it’s a darn good show, and I’m curious to hear what you think of it.