On May 13, 2006, HBO confirmed it has opted not to pick up the options of the actors, which were set to expire on June 11, 2006. This means that there will likely be no fourth season with the current cast as it stands, though HBO has stressed that the show is not cancelled and talks regarding its future are ongoing. The chance of the show returning in its current state of cast and crew, however, is small.
On June 5, 2006, HBO and creator David Milch agreed to have two two-hour telefilms in place of a fourth season, after Milch declined a short-order of 6 episodes. This is because in the show's original form, each season was only a few days, with each episode being one day, in the town of Deadwood. The final two-hour format will release these time restraints and allow for a broader narrative to finish off the series.
What the fuck?! This means that tonight's episode will be the last regular episode, and I know it's going to end with a cliffhanger, and I'm having some serious fucking Farscape flashbacks: A brilliant series is canceled in the middle of a story, then allowed the chance to "wrap up" with a partial season, but will be finishing with a mini-series instead, which, I can guarantee, will not be equal to the task. Four hours?! Am I the only person who was labouring under the impression that Deadwood was a hit? I suppose that I should take some cold comfort from the fact that so many of the artists whom I admire are commercial failures. At least I'm consistent.
As Bruce Cockburn said so long ago, "If I had a rocket launcher..."
At least Serenity won a Hugo.
Postscript: My very grateful thanks to David Kirkpatrick (corucia), whose generosity has made it possible for me to renew the domain registration for Nebari.net. Whether or not it will remain online past September 6th, I cannot yet say. But I do hope so.
Second Postscript (8:43 p.m.): This article from The New York Times answers a lot of my questions regarding the end of Deadwood. It also reveals many more parallels in the forces behind the demise of Milch's masterpiece and Farscape than I'd actually expected.