It's been a decade since "Deadwood" went off the air. While we patiently wait for HBO to bring that rumored TV movie to life, another western has come to the network ... and "Westworld" looks very promising.
While not purely a western -- the Michael Crichton story it's inspired by is embedded in hard sci-fi -- there are the typical tropes and cliches there-in that will please any die hard fan of the old west genre. But for those not yet familiar with "Westworld" and how it differs from HBO's other cowboy hit, "Deadwood," here are a few glaring differences to consider ...
'Westworld' is essentially a theme park
In the original Michael Crichton movie, West World was one of three themed lands guests could choose to visit -- the others being Roman World and Medieval World. It seems HBO is sticking solely to the old west and that's completely fine by us. But given that it's a theme park, the town isn't too dirty -- for example, the streets are devoid or any muddy sewage -- the saloon is cinematically dangerous and the residents all have a specific part to play.
"Deadwood," on the other hand, was built to mirror the actual place the series was based on. A working town, David Milch's set was true to details of American history. But ... guests of "Westworld" don't want that. They're visiting to fulfill their fantasies, as long as it's in their comfort zones.
The comfort of the guests is key
"Westworld," first and foremost, is a place dedicated to meeting each and every need and desire of its guests. It's kind of in the vein of Al Swearengin's (Ian McShane) establishment, but without the ego or constant threats that came with the territory.
There are many adventures one can partake in within the open world experience of the game. But at the end of the day, if thing aren't going right for the visitor, he or she can end their Westworld fantasy and chart a new path.
After all, the charge for admission is quite steep, you best believe it's in Delos' interests to give the guests exactly what they're paying for. If only Al Swearengin conducted business like that.
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Death is not the end
"Deadwood" was a violent gritty series, exploring the real characters and events as they happened in Deadwood, South Dakota. The old western town was a bevy of disease and death, which is what one would expect in America, before the Industrial Revolution changed everything.
Visitors of Westworld, however, venture into the expanse knowing that they can inflict as much harm -- no matter how perverse -- without the possibility of being harmed by any of its robot (cowboy or prostitute) citizens. At least, that's how Delos intended their land to work.
Now robot on robot violence? That's a whole other can of worms.
Good vs evil takes on a new meaning
When entering Westworld, guests are given the option to pick a White Hat or a Black Hat. Acting like a real-life "Choose Your Own Adventure," it's this choice that dictates a guest's role in the world and the actions they end up partaking in.
In "Deadwood," there wasn't really good or bad ... it was different characters that existed on a bleak spectrum of morality just trying to make a life for themselves day in and day out. Talk about a serious buzzkill!
"Westworld" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.