YOU could say it is the best and worst of times for actor William Sanderson. Best because the third season of HBO's award-winning revisionist western series, "Deadwood," begins tonight at 9. And Sanderson, 58, is one of the best reasons to watch the violent, foul- mouthed sagebrush saga from creator David Milch ("NYPD Blue"). The Memphis-born Sanderson is a scene stealer as the oily -- and often creepy -- E.B. Farnum, the default mayor of the lawless Western town and operator of the Grand Central Hotel. Farnum also has connections with the town's kingpin, Al Swearengen (Ian McShane), though Swearengen doesn't really take him seriously.
It's the worst of times for Sanderson, though, because HBO is pulling the plug on the show after this year. Early last week, HBO announced that Milch would do two two-hour specials of "Deadwood" that would wrap up the series.
If [viewers] don't like E.B. Farnum, they sure don't want to miss the first episode, because Farnum himself gets in a lot of trouble. The season is working still toward development of democracy in Deadwood. David Milch swears it's not unlike [what's happening now] in Iraq.