(At Bryan's request, I've reformatted the quoted email sections for readability.)
Deadwood is great, but very particular. You may want to give it a
couple more episodes.
Karin was firmer in her "no" vote than I. We had a couple of problems with
it. First, and perhaps this is just me getting old, but I found it very
difficult to understand what the characters were saying. I had to keep
rewinding scene after scene which just made watching the episode more work
than fun. Maybe the sampler disc we were viewing contained a bad copy of the
pilot, but the picture looked great and we didn't have the sound problem
with the other pilots on the disc. Perhaps the fault lies with the sound
crew for the show.
Yeah, we still have that problem sometimes-- it's not a technical issue, it's just the way the dialogue is written. I actually like it; it's almost Shakespearean in its vocabulary and rhythms, and the juxtaposition with the filthy environment is central to the show, IMHO. And speaking of filth...
The second problem we had with the show was its anachronistic use of foul
language. I'm no prude and I like fucking foul language as much as the next
guy, but even in the rough-and-tumble old west I doubt there was much use of
bodily-function-oriented foul language. My understanding is that the foul
language of choice back then was sacrilegious since that was more taboo at
the time. In later years, as sacrilegious language began to lose its edge,
bodily-function language became more in vogue. In addition, the use of foul
language seemed over-frequent and gratuitous. I could just picture HBO execs
telling the writers to add in more foul language and nudity (and spectacular
gore) so they could demonstrate the difference in content between
premium-cable and free-network fare. Again, it isn't so much the subject
matter (language, nudity, gore) I mind as much as its unnecessary use. If
the show contained frequent and unnecessary references to ping-pong I would
have had a similar objection.
I get that. I couldn't watch NYPD Blue because of the ridiculuous camera work, which would jerk around constantly and for no reason, even during static scenes. I know it was supposed to artificially increase tension, and didn't otherwise affect the quality of the writing or acting, but it irritated me so much that I couldn't watch it at all.
So maybe Deadwood just isn't for you. I will say that not all the characters are uniformly foul-mouthed, and later episodes are more judicious in their use of certain... phrases. If you're a Veronica Mars fan, you may want to rent the episodes "Bullock Returns To The Camp" and "Suffer The Little Children" to see Kirsten Bell in a very different role. (And if you're not a Veronica Mars fan, that's another good show you should check out.)
After reading about all the new shows, there wasn't a single one I felt
excited about seeing. The best I could muster was a half-hearted stirring to
maybe give one or two a try. True, I was reading about them in TV Guide,
which I subscribed to when it changed formats and within a few issues
decided THAT was a big mistake. That magazine has become SO fluffy and
breathless I can barely stand wading through it to get information about
what's coming up. I'm letting my subscription run out. If only I could find
a source of serious and discerning editorial opinion about TV shows!
Entertainment Weekly sometimes hits the mark, but I usually can't get past
its smart-alecky hipster tone.
I usually flip through EW and read the few articles I care about in each issue. I don't mind the snarkiness too much.
I listen to the KFOG podcast, on which TV critic Tim Goodman shows up a few times a month-- it's fun because he discusses things with other people, and generally knows what he's talking about. It's a short segment and thus not very in-depth, but has pointed me to interesting things. The podcast is clearly labeled so you can just listen to Tim Goodman's segments:
Of course, if you don't like Tim Goodman, that's probably not for you either. :)