Boardwalk Empire (TV Series 2010–2014) Poster


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Buscemi should get an Emmy.
svenoli16 October 2010
This show is loaded with excellent acting and writing!!!!! It's worth watching every minute and shot. Steve Buscemi definitely deserves an Emmy for his portrayal of "Nucky." I haven't enjoyed a show from HBO this much since "Deadwood." The characters are well layered and the dialogue is fantastic. The supporting cast is immensely talented and the scenery is simply gorgeous. Michael Pitt is a pleasure to watch in his, complex role of the war hero gone bad. I hope this show lasts a lot longer than "Deadwood" did and makes household names out of its cast. I'll keep my HBO subscription forever if more shows like these are on the horizon.
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My 347th Review: ...this is as good as TV gets....
intelearts4 November 2010
With production values that are mind-boggling, cast, and a budget to die for HBO is now what film studios were in the 1930s, they have the clout and the ability to go way further than most films can - and you get episode after episode.

the detailing is beyond accurate and lavish - every stitch, every furnishing, every telegraph wire looks and feels authentic and it is all shot and lit to the highest standards of film not TV.

The story of prohibition and Atlantic City is fully detailed, complex, with Steve Buscemi heading up a great cast. I have a gripe that the F-word was not ubiquitous at the time and strikes a jarring note in an otherwise near perfect production.

Where this shines is in the details - I just hope the story lines and acting live up to the promise - they certainly have so far.
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The best show on small screen since the last best show on HBO
seandalaya15 November 2010
The show doesn't need any introduction and neither does the cast. It encompasses a generation where the political landscape is much the same as today but it is laced with more violence, sexism and corruption and in the midst is a thriving business of illegal alcohol.

A new standard is set with the storytelling, cinematography, elaborate sets on the shores of Brooklyn, carefully chosen custom tailored clothes and costumes that match the opulent lifestyles of the characters. The occasional inserts of magazines, books, manuals; all in their original form, which not only gives originality (to the show) for the era that is being depicted but also takes you back in time into the deeply woven lives of characters like Mrs Schroeder, Nucky, Eli, Nelson and my personal favorite character Mr. Kessler.

A barrage of other prominent real life characters like Arnold Rothstein, Lucky Liciano, Al Capone, (Jimmy Darmody?), Johnny Torrio, Senators, Congressmen, President and VP contenders make the show complete and give it a political as well as a mob dimension.

Much of what is in the show is based on true events and a cursory search on Wikipedia on some of the famous characters validates it. This is what makes this brilliant show dark just like it's setting - theme song with clouds over Atlantic city.

One of the less talked about part of the show perhaps are the melodious songs that the producers/writers have decided for the background score. The songs fill up the environment with melancholy just like much of the show and leaves us eagerly waiting for the next episode.

Any less than ten stars for the show would only reflect lack of fine taste.
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Simply ... WOW!
85122222 September 2010
Greetings from Lithuania.

What a wonderful pilot!

First i read some reviews before watching pilot, and they where saying how "boooring" this episode was. Hell no! That was one of the best pilots in a ... ever! When you have screenwriter of "Sopranos" and Mr. M.Scorsese in a director chair - nothing can go wrong! A pilot of "Boardwalk Empire" reminded my of "Goodfellas", "Sopranos" (i read that behind this show is a writer of "Sopranos" after watching pilot) and ... "Departed" - it's was THAT good.

If this show will live up to the pilot - we have a new Emmy winner in all possible categories.

Watch it and don't wary about negative reviews - this is a really great show.
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A brilliant crime story filled with flare, emotion, and memorable characters.
wwe79616 December 2010
I am not a big TV lover. Mostly I watch South Park, but this show has gotten me interested in more live-action shows. It tells its stories with the same quality as a normal theater film for each episode making it feel like a massive crime drama experience. I have been waiting for a while now to review it, and now that the first season is over I can make my honest opinion clear. I live on a barrier island in New Jersey named Long Beach Island. It is about an hour drive away from Atlantic City so as you can guess I've been there a few times. My favorite part about Atlantic City is the boardwalk. Since this show is named Boardwalk Empire it should do a good job at showing what it looked like back in the 20's. Simply put it captures the 20's perfectly. The show is directed so well I felt like I was transported back to those days. They also capture the feel of the 20's in other ways by showing historic events such as the World Series scam. In the end though it best captures the spirit of the 20's on the boardwalk. As for the plot it is set in the 1920's. Prohabition has begun starting a whole decade of illegal alcohol smuggling. The Treasurer of Atlantic City Nucky Thompson is starting a smuggling business that results in some bloody consequences. Along the way he meets a woman named Mrs. Schroeder, deals with an oncoming election, and more. It is a very well told story. It manages to tell several different stories throughout the show, but none of them feel underdone. They all are extremely well put together story lines. You have the main alcohol smuggling story, the story of Nucky and Margaret, the story of Jimmy, the story of Capone, the story of Lucky, the story of Eli Thompson, the story of Agent Nelson Van Alden, and many more. All these different stories keep things fresh. The emotions that are shown in the episodes are powerful. As the episodes go on emotions get stronger like layers of an onion. Something that is also present in this show is flare. Every gangster flick needs that style to it. It needs to have that gangster feel. While this show doesn't have a lot of that when it happens it is really cool. Now I end this review on the acting. Everybody does a swell job. Buscemi is great as usual, and everyone else is great. The person who I'm most interested in is Michael Pitt who is a relatively unknown actor, but here is great and I would like to see him other things. He could make it real big. Overall I love this show. I will be a viewer of the next season for sure.
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Best Pilot I've Ever Seen! A New Milestone for TV?
Ali_Mandi23 September 2010
A couple of days a go, I saw the pilot of Boardwalk Empire, directed by Maestro Martin Scorsese and written by Terence Winter, one of the main writers of the Sopranos. This is by far the best pilot I've ever seen. Impeccably directed; pure Scorsese, brilliantly written, perfectly casted, amazingly acted and just visually stunning! The look Mr. Scorsese established for the show is a joy to watch and hopefully the other directors will be able to emulate it, but I guess since we have Tim Van Patten, Allen Coulter and Alan Taylor directing most of the episodes, we're safe! From the first episode, Boardwalk Empire shows a great promise. It's about time Steve Buscemi got a leading role, a fine actor and a show stealer, and he's nothing short of great here, with a great supporting show to carry the show with him.

If the show continues like the pilot, and keeps using great soundtracks like the ones Mr. Scorsese used for the pilot. Then we have a third show to join the Sopranos and the Wire. And the fact that HBO renewed the show for a second season two days after it's premiere says something.

Will be watching.
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One of the best series on Hbo
admrilvoro20 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
When I watched this it kept me to the edge of my seat waiting to know what will happen next and when. The music with the movie is just like drinking a beer and feeling your first buzz It plays at the right time. The historically reality is just stunning, The silent movies the comedy play mixed with the raids from the feds. It shows how many people were actually poor in certain types of town with low pay. How men who drink beat their wives I did not enjoy watching that though that got me kind of mad at the guy and wanted to see him dead in the show because he killed a unborn child buy beating the mother of it,and Martin Scorsese roll in it. A big $50 million just for the pilot their investing a lot into this show. I enjoyed all the way through even the credits.One of the best pilots I have ever seen.
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TV's best drama that's compelling and informative it shows the early days of America's Playground as it ran with politics, corruption, greed and power struggle!
blanbrn9 November 2010
HBO has once again done it, they are simply the best at putting out provocative, and compelling interesting original series and this time period piece drama "Boardwalk Empire" is clearly a big knockout winner. It's filled with enough drama, intrigue, suspense and complex emotions to make a viewer hooked and addicted to me it's like an early version of "The Sopranos" as producer and creator Terence Winter does a crafty and great job with this new work just the way he did when he wrote for "The Sopranos".

As long before the days of slot machines, Donald Trump, Chinese massage places, street walking hookers, and rundown buildings this period piece shows the real and early days of Atlantic City. Set in 1920's Atlantic City, NJ when Prohibition has just gone into effect this series shows how the city's kings became outlaws. Dealing with the real life Nucky Johnson, yet the series changes the name to Nucky Thompson(played brilliant by veteran Steve Buscemi)who is A.C.'s treasurer and as with any central character Nucky is a complex man. He's a good politician standing for what he believes in, still he's quickly amoral by doing favors and bribes overseeing criminal enterprises and money from booze that's imported with the help of his brother the sheriff. Still Nucky has a soft heart for people in need especially for that of a local lady Margaret Schroeder(played wonderful by Kelly MacDonald)who captures Nucky's fancy with her loving care, a big difference from the hot steamy passion that Nucky has with hot spirited flame Lucy(Paz De la Huerta).

Aside from that a good supporting turn for the series and Nucky is that of hot young buck sidekick and want to be leader Jimmy Darmody(Michael Pitt)who's an aggressive loose cannon kick butt kind of guy. As he skates in the business of battling rivals while trying to impress Nucky with scores and he even brushes in business for Nucky in Chicago and New York as this series even shows the early start of legends Al Capone and Lucky Luciano. As Jimmy's the great wild card of the series a hot headed war war I vet who couldn't be tamed at home by his sexy wife Angela(Aleksa Palladino)as this boy is just a little complex from having a showgirl for a mom Gillian(Gretchen Mol).

And with any early mob drama it's only fitting to have a good guy trying to sort out the mess and bring corruption down well enter federal agent Nelson Van Alden(played with toughness and zeal from Michael Shannon)an intense by the book lawman who's determined as it's always interesting to watch him follow Nucky's dealings and travels.

Overall this now is the best show on TV and only the best in the business HBO could have done it. "Boardwalk Empire" shows the roaring twenties as vibrant and classic meanwhile the life of this place is a violent underworld that had to be in a time of social prosperity and progress that was upstaged by corruption and booze debauchery in the Prohibition era. It's such a historical drama that it's educational really as it shows with it's central character Nucky Thompson life is complex and always temptation will override playing by the book as easy money is the way to live, still when dealing with money, booze, and sex it's tough and violent. Still "Boardwalk Empire" does all of this in such a classic way that's exciting and exhilarating as it's dazzling make it a must see for yourself and toast up and drink up to this it should last a little bit.
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Fantastic Series!
kellycastlebridge4 October 2010
This is a fantastic series; its the kind of outstanding, must-see programming that drives new subscribers to HBO. The series has superb production values and masterful direction by Scorsese. The acting is first-rate all around, especially the portrayal of Rothstein.

Nucky's girlfriend (played by Paz de la Heurta) spices the show up with wonderful flashes of her beautiful nude body. The dressing room scene in episode #3 where she strips naked is magnificent to behold! The lady is a work of art...

There is also a subtle complexity to the character of Nucky. He is not just a "bad" villain; a simple,one-dimensional caricature. Instead, he shows loving emotions, such as his desire to have children and his attraction to the good-hearted, honest immigrant girl. (who on the surface appears to be his antithesis) He doesn't just commit crimes or violence for enjoyment of evil, but its often part of a Machiavellian purpose.He doesn't just take from the community, but he gives back as well. Perhaps he is the benevolent dictator or Philosopher King that Plato imagined. In many cases he redistributes wealth to those who need it most. Even if he is primarily doing it to serve his own interests, he is providing a critical function and service to the community and time in which he lives.

The series also makes stinging criticisms of how the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and how powerful political and economic interests often manipulate naive, well-intentioned fools. Even today, soft drugs like marijuana are illegal, while far more addictive and socially harmful products (such as tobacco and alcohol) are legal. Marijuanna has been kept illegal because the powerful alcohol and tobacco lobby groups don't want competition to cut into their profits. But dumb people still believe the politicians who outlaw soft drugs like this are doing it to "protect" society.

In any case, this series is highly entertaining and will help people to understand the futility of prohibition policies and start to think about the real political and economic interests that are operating behind the scenes. The show is fun and addictive. (hopefully the government won't outlaw it) Watch it; you'll be glad you did.
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Damn Good Start
down-emily22 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Boasting only a pilot episode (for now), Boardwalk Empire proved to be highly entertaining, at least for me. I never once thought it was slow, although if I recall correctly, the premiere lasted for more than an hour, and I didn't think it was overstuffed or overly dramatic, as many have taken the time to notice. Well, okay, maybe it was a little high-strung towards the end, but it managed to restrain itself nicely on that account. I mean, it could've been much worse.

But that's not the kind of sentence I'd like to employ with this series. I can tell this is going to be a good one. Not because we have as backdrop the fiery, blood-fuelled mob wars between two powerful cities, or the facetious, slippery trade of liquor during the Prohibition era.

While all these are very interesting to watch in their own respect, especially the accurate depiction of the violence and crimes of the time, what I like best about this show, so far anyways, are the characters.

I am not saying the plot isn't fairly fascinating itself, but I am more drawn to the protagonist, rather than the actual story. Nucky Thompson is fascinating to watch simply because he is a lonely man with too many people around him. He is like an island (cleverly depicted in the opening theme), standing in the midst of a raging era. He is a strong man with a strong head, but when it comes to his heart, well - he tends to show a much more vulnerable side. He looks like a cold bastard and acts like a pragmatic, self-complacent, crafty and almost cruel business man. At the same time, however, he's a warm fellow, with a heart made of tiny sheets of gold, that likes to protect all things pristine and innocent in the world. He is almost too aware of the fact that he can't accomplish that. He knows that his principles, while set in stone, are morally wrong and that he can't do his job and also do what he thinks is right. He can't be half a gangster, as Jimmy tells him. So he compromises and tries doing both, with somewhat peculiar consequences. Here is man who can seem completely accustomed to the world he lives in, while, simultaneously, finding a hard time adjusting to it.

When Steve Buscemi's character (who, by the way, was perfectly cast in my opinion - opinion which is not shared by many apparently) gives his touching, over-the-top, speech at the beginning of the episode, narrating how he procured some rats as dinner for his family on a cold winter night, we know it's a ruse and we as audience can already guess he is using it as a ploy to earn the trust and admiration of the ladies gathered there. And yet, we kind of hope and believe that part of his story is true. And that, although he lied about it, in his heart, he would actually do that. And that, a bit of that little boy resembles this grown weary man. You almost start thinking, towards the end of the episode, that maybe he wasn't lying to them at all,that maybe he was actually telling a real story. And that's when the character becomes fascinating to watch.

And Nucky isn't the only character to watch. There are many well-rounded characters here that surprised me in many good ways. I never expected this much depth from these supporting characters. At least at first, Jimmy's character did not seem so complex to me. It's only when the story progresses, that we do see how twisted the little fellow really is.

Same goes for Arnold Rothstein's character, played by the grossly underrated Michael Stuhlbarg, as a cool, stoic mobster with a charming and affable personality. His poised elegance appears almost sinister at times. Especially after his gambling success, when he explains to Nucky how in actuality, he's the one who owes him money. Another good one for me is Margaret's character, the abused Irish wife that Nucky takes a peculiar interest in. Her quiet innocence and deliberate, unaffected candour make for a refreshing change from the sensual femme fatale of the jazz era, portrayed by Nucky's girlfriend. Many critics complained that she is a stale stereotype of the victimised woman portrayed as a saint, as opposed to the promiscuous vain, self-absorbed tart. So this would be the reason why Nucky's interested in her. But I disagree, she brings a lot more to the screen than a stereotype of an abused wife. Yes, she is placed there to show a contrast between different women at the time, but she has something of her own, her expressions, her mannerisms, her actions that speak louder than her role and position in society. For me at least, she was riveting to watch.

The weak characters of the show (like Van Alden, Lucy or Lucky Luciano) I suppose have not yet been developed after only one episode and I look forward to seeing more of them.

However, all in all, the cast is a delight to watch. And for me, the characters make this show better than it actually is. The plot is elegantly handled (I speak as an amateur of this particular genre) and it swerves and turns enough times to distract us from any loose ends, making sure we focus on some key moments of the story, but the characters really do bring out the best of it, for me at least.

I give it a nine, because I have a feeling this show will grow into something worthwhile.
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The final season was a big disappointment...
raptandy18 November 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Killing off all the main characters in such a slapdash manner is not the best way to end the show. In the final seasons of Breaking Bad and Sopranos they gave more episodes to the viewers, but the masterminds behind this show have opted here for the exact opposite. No wonder the narrative is very fragmented, a problem which had already started with season four. The truth is that this show has suffered since the end of Season 2 but there were some great moments in 3, 4 was tolerable, but they screwed up big time with 5. It's like someone removed half the pages of the script before they started filming. I know that there are very important money issues but what about all the people who were following the show for the last five years? You can't treat them like idiots. BTW, Hasn't Jimmy's son grown up a bit too fast? If you take in account the years between seasons four and five he would be about 12 years old and not an adult as he is depicted in the show.
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Terence Winter and Tim Van Pattern are back!!
daviddumont_14 October 2010
And they teamed up with Scorsese and Buscemi.

I really liked the pilot, but it was the 2nd episode that really hooked me up!! The characters are so well written, filled with humanity and contradictions.

Most of the dramatic situations are pretty conventional, but, as someone once said: "it is better to start with a cliché than to end with it".

I have no doubt the show will end up being a freshening experience for the crime genre fans.

And no, Nukcy Thompson is not Tony Soprano. This is not a family drama.

This is something else, and thank god they aren't repeating the Sopranos formula, but going in a different direction, which I'm sure give great results :-)
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Excellent series with intense drama , corruption and gangster fights ; including lush set design , evocative cinematography and top-notch acting
ma-cortes17 April 2015
Atlantic City, 1920, when alcohol was outlawed , outlaws became kings. There a politician plays both sides of the law, conspiring with gangsters during the Prohibition era . Enoch "Nucky" Thompson (Steve Buscemi) controls the monies coming into the city from its many legal enterprises, as well as an assortment of illegal ones , including the majority of the illicit alcohol that comes into Atlantic City's port and is distributed up the east coast and into Chicago . Nucky is one of the richest men in Atlantic City, where he lives with his lover , a former burlesque dancer , in the penthouse suite of the Ritz Carlton on the Boardwalk . His wife died young, leaving him childless and a strange attraction that has sprung up between himself and a married Irish immigrant (Kelly MacDonald) threatens more than just his domestic tranquility . As his bootlegging business takes off , Nucky finds himself hard pressed to keep control over the empire he has built and the ties he has forged along the way .

This is a very good series about mobsters and with plenty of intrigue , drama , magnificent production design and over-the-top performances . The series was lavishly produced by great producers/directors such as Martin Scorsese , Mark Wahlberg and Timothy Van Patten ; being originally created by Terence Winter . The main cast gives a nice acting such as Steve Buscemi as corrupt treasurer of Atlantic County and its most powerful political figure and Kelly Macdonald as Margaret as an Irish immigrant who holds an abusive relationship with her husband , she is the mother of two children but soon becomes a widow and someone in whom Nucky Thompson, takes an interest .

Other important roles are the followings : Michael Shannon as Nelson Van Alden , he is a senior agent in the Bureau of Prohibition Department , he is deeply religious has a dark side of his own, including lashing himself as punishment for misdeeds . Shea Whigham as "Eli" Thompson, he is the younger brother of Nucky Thompson, is the sheriff but is meant to do as his brother says, both because he has no choice and because Nucky helps provide care of Eli's wife and eight children , Eli quietly resents his brother's power and influence, sometimes daring to challenge his brother's authority . Gretchen Moll as Gillian Darmody , she is the mother of Jimmy Darmody, Michael Pitt , who she had at a very young age after being raped by The Commodore Louis Kaestner when she was 13 , then-Sheriff Nucky Thompson brought her to him , she raised Jimmy on her own , Gillian went on to become a burlesque dancer at the Cafe Beaux Arts and eventually would run a brothel , her relationship with and protectiveness of Jimmy borders on odd and disturbing and reaches one particularly uncomfortable moment before he goes off to fight in World War I . Michael Kenneth Williams as Chalky White , he is the leader and primary caretaker of the black population of Atlantic City , he is the Nucky Thompson of the black community . Jack Huston as Richard Harrow , he is a former Army sniper whose face was severely disfigured in World War I , he wears a mask attached to a pair of glasses that is designed to match his skin tone and cover up the fact that much of the left side of his face is torn.

There is also a deep description about gangster fights though the narration is about his early years . As Lucky Luciano , Vincent Piazza , Lucky is one of the bosses of the Mafia and leader of Cosa Nostra , and soon became a chief in the Reina Family during the height of the Castellammarese War . Then takes place a Mafian War between Salvatore Maranzano, who eventually defeated the faction headed by rival Joseph Masseria . After Masseria's murder , this position was short-lived, as Maranzano himself was murdered in 1931 . Then , the family is headed by Charles "Lucky" Luciano , eventually known as the Genovese Family. He orders the slaughter of 40 other responsible , a famous massacre nicknamed Sicilian Vespers , therefore becoming the only boss . Meyer Lansky , nicely played by Anatol Yusef , was lifelong friends with Charles "Lucky" Luciano and Bugsy Siegel . Together, their involvement in and influence on the Italian American Mafia is historically notable . Beginning with the violent Bug and Meyer Prohibition mob, Lansky was completely authentic organized crime . Together with Luciano and Siegel began organized crime establishment of and involvement in Las Vegas gambling beginning with the Flamingo . And of course , Al Capone , magnetically played by Stephen Graham . Capone's rise in Chicago Gangdom is strongly carried out by means of violence and murder , subsequently took place his fall . Torrio accompanied to Capone are going to Chicago but he is called by his uncle Jim Colosimo . He's murdered and Torrio rules over as Chicago's crime boss , but during his violent confrontation to Dion O'Bannion he decided Capone managed the business . He becomes head of Chicago's biggest "business," and followed through killing corruption , extortion, and political fraud. Capone running his crime empire until FBI agents and police worked to send the crime boss to prison. Al Capone's been convicted of tax evasion, but the law states that he can only be confined to a regular jail cell
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Great pilot for a show that may run for many years.
stuart_osborn22 September 2010
Boardwalk Empire is a period piece set in Atlantic City at the start of prohibition. The pilot is directed by Martin Scorsese in what looks to be a very large budget, with locations and costumes all looking superb.

It focuses on Enoch 'Lucky' Thomson, played by Steve Buscemi, just as prohibition kicks in, and the start of bootlegging. Some would say a curious cast for the lead role as he is often best as a supporting character or just an out and out strange dude, but he glides through the first episode, with Scorsese choosing to show him as a man/potential gangster with a soft side, hinting at a meaner streak to come. The inevitable comparisons to Tony Soprano cannot be justified as it is just one episode and really a different kettle of fish altogether, although it is written by one of the Sopranos writers.

The supporting cast roles are all filled with established actors but with some great roles going to the younger set, notably Michael Pitt (Funny games), Stephen graham (This Is England) and Kelly MacDonald (Trainspotting) it gives a sense that it is going to run for many years as these characters develop.

As with all new series, it takes time to get the nitty gritty and give the audience a sense of belief and love for the characters. Some have said on here that the pilot is too slow, but in my opinion it moves along at a nice even pace with a great set up. The music throughout is also first class.

Time will tell if it can eclipse the dizzy heights of The Sopranos or The Wire, but judging by intent of everyone involved, it may just make the top 3!
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good periodical re-enactments, but....
beregic7 January 2012
since first episode it was pretty much what i expected; great re-enactments of 1920's America (including the excessive use of stereotypes unfortunately, with a superficial originality ), an appropriate soundtrack for the era, excellent camera direction, and decent to good actors (a few played too over the top such as Capone character ).

but after watching season 2 entirely i will surly give up on it. my problem is that the writers are going after "The Godfather Effect" with cheap melodramatic thrills all in the name of so called realism...characters are multidimensional (most have likable/dis likable traits) but season 1 is all over the place with the same message given over and over: "America was a much more ruthless place than it is today, with everyone unscrupulous, driven by almighty dollar...". Meanwhile season 2 starts rather better off but derails off track and in the last 2 episodes there was so much predictability when expecting the twist.

my point i try make is that the serial becomes UN-entertaining fast. after the season 2 finale especially, i really can not care less for any of the "players" LEFT in play... for such "realism" i will just call my local politician or read the newspaper between the lines, i don't need waste time watch a fantasy that claims to be realistic (oxymoron at best).

it is a much too materialistic show for my taste (capitalism at its finest...right...) with very little if any educative content besides the costumes and appliances used on sets).
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I'm Caring Less and Less For Any Character On This Show
cb_books2 October 2012
Into Episode 3 of Season 3 and I just really don't care anymore. Too many incidental characters and story lines are spoiling the broth.

Whereas with The Sopranos I felt an emotional attachment to the characters (as heinous as they were), I'm just not feeling it here. It's as if the writers don't have a seasonal, let alone a series arc in mind.

This series continues to waste a great cast.

On the upside, the set design and music are wonderful. The series really evokes the early '20s (not that I was there).

Take some money from the art design budget and put it into some great writing.

Which is not to say that this show is unredeemable. But the series needs to cut down on the incidental characters and flesh out a good "core" cast in much tighter plot lines.
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Hoodwinked by the HBO marketing machine
bigcliffthedon26 January 2012
A stinker. An immaculately crafted stinker but a stinker all the same. People talk about the period detail and historical accuracy as if that equals good TV. For those of you that didn't know, this isn't a documentary or a recreation. Boardwalk Empire is a work of fiction. Those irrelevancies aren't what makes me dislike this show though. Although it is amusing that a series which puts such a high value on realism contains such unrealistic violence and melodrama. My problem is that the storyline is mind numbingly slow paced and dull. Hardly anything happens and when it finally does it carries little to no impact because I have been bored into a waking sleep waiting for it to happen.

Everybody's screwing everybody, everybody's down each others pants and up each others skirts, oh it's so ambiguous. Get over it, it's been done, before and better and cos this is TV and something worked once lets do it until everyone's so sick of it we'll never do it again...until we run out of ideas that is. Just check Kelsey Grammar in Boss and a plethora of others for this 'he's not good or bad he just is' characterisation. Darmody is the only character I care about and he's not in it enough. Ambiguity is good, people make mistakes, shades of grey blah blah but can you seriously say you are rooting for Nucky?

Lead characters have to be at least kinda likable. The lead character in this piece is a villain operating for money and power with no redeeming qualities. Tony Soprano was a dedicated family man. Bill Adama fervently cared for the survival of his fleet. Why doesn't Nucky take his money and retire somewhere good instead of staying in that damp, drab, grey wasteland he calls home. What's his motivation? Why should I want him to succeed?

I would rather a show shot on a sound stage with cardboard sets and a great story than a show with a $500m budget and a boring one. I think the praise and accolades Boardwalk Empire has gained are based on the name power of Scorsese, Buscemi and HBO. Over time this series will not be mentioned in the same breath as The Sopranos or Deadwood. Don't believe the hype. Get off the bandwagon.
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"Jersey shore circa 1920"..... ticks all the boxes.
PuravidaSlant22 September 2010
I'm always amazed when some people like things I find really lame and visa versa. Well, Broadway Empire aka "Jersey shore circa 1920" is my latest example of the visa versa thing. For me, this period piece is close to perfect. Steve Buscemi in the role of the sympathetic gangster Nucky Thompson is the perfect foil to weave a number of characters and plot lines around. The writing was tight and the casting represented a rich mix which has always been a hallmark of any drama worth it's salt based in The Garden State.

As a Jersey boy who grew up in beautiful Newark during the 40's and 50's this costume drama ticks all the boxes. For those who found fault, you are a mystery to me.
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The attention to detail is amazing.
rukstar6924 February 2019
This show has such a great mix of fiction and non-fiction. Although some of the characters are not real, it ties in with the facts really well. The attention to detail for transforming everything on set to almost 100 years back is incredible.

I think the show can be a tad draggy at times but all in all I think it a really well written and all the actors have a lot of substance.

It's worth the time!
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On the Boardwalk of Alantic City
Beginthebeguine20 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
When I was a child in the 1960's my Grandparents use to take me to stay at the Marlborough Blenheim every summer in Alantic City. Back then the horse was still diving from the Steel Pier and the taffy was still being made in the window of shops along the Boardwalk. That was 40 years after this program is set, and yet it was still familiar to me as I watched the premier episode of this new HBO program. There is a fascinating history to the Boardwalk and it is about time that someone is telling it.

*** Spoiler***

The episode begins with the day before the first official day of Prohibition in the U.S. which would be January 15, 1920 ( prohibition began official Jan., 16, 1920) as fictional character Enoch "Nucky" Thompson is speaking to a temperance meeting about a fictional story of his childhood "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story" he later tells one of his men when he is questioned about the stories truthfulness. So here is the set up for the series "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story". It is said that the character is based upon Enoch Lewis "Nucky" Johnson an Alantic City Politician and racketeer of the period, but with great license (fictional license that is). The episode ends on May 11, 1920 as Big Jim Colosimo was gunned down in his eatery in Chicago while waiting for a shipment to arrive, supposedly by Al Capone; but who knows. So the time-line of the episode is Jan 15-May 20, 1920.

One scene has Nucky standing on the Boardwalk, near a bench, looking out over the Alantic Ocean and I had to laugh since it is similar to where Tony Soprano would stand both in dream sequences and other scenes of the show. It is inevitable the comparisons, New Jersey, Mobsters. One has to compare also to the Godfather at the end as one man is taken out and dumped in the ocean (ala Salvatore "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero in the Sopranos-although this body turns up), and Big Jim is gunned down in Chicago. I like it when business is taken care of at the end of the show.

***Spoiler Ends***

It's a mob show ant the first episode is directed by Martin Scorsese, and his ability to move this genre forward are legendary, can his ability be met in future episodes we will see. I cannot imagine that it will be as popular as The Sopranos was, but ya never know...
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Wholly uninteresting
vsdobbs1 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I just finished watching the seventh episode of this series and it'll probably be my last.

Simply put, the show is terrifically boring. The creators think that peppering the show with gunshots and T&A will make up for what is an unbelievable lack of conflict or character depth.

Not once in any of the episodes has the story been ahead of me and I'm usually well ahead of it, predicting every death and move in advance--sometimes even the location and method, though I've never read anything of the period. It's as if the writers have absolutely no vision whatsoever and they're terrified of treating their audience as adults.

I am stunned that this title has been "renewed" for a second season after only one episode aired--and not even a particularly good episode at that. It seems that, with the exception of John From Cincinnati, every time I try a new HBO show I think the same thing: they cancelled Deadwood for this?! There was more conflict in every single episode of Milch's show than in the entirety of this snoozefest so far.

It seems as though Scorsese--though merely an exec producer--has been off his feed for more than a decade. I was once a big fan--I've got an autographed Taxi Driver poster hanging on my wall--but, truly, this project presents him with absolutely no challenge. There is nothing for him--or anyone else involved, except maybe the set designer/decorator--to rise to.

The cinematography and blocking are uninspired--the dialogue is pedestrian. The acting is fine but the players have nothing to play with. I'll agree with the other reviewer who said the music is terrible (something Scorsese used to be great at). I literally laughed out loud at the organ music cue in episode 7. One of the most ridiculous and ham-handed, overwrought cues I've heard in my life.

Like last year's Treme, this show just never seems to find its footing. To say it ambles would be accurate, but is dangerously close to being a compliment, given the actual pace at which this unfurls.

Good god, it's boring. Do yourself a favour and skip it. Or bring a good book.
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I give in!
graham-59218 February 2011
After six episodes, I give in.

So many great factors (Buscemi, most of the cast, sets, styling, cinematography, characters, relationships... the subject and the historical context... the little ideas, like the weird, devout FBI agent...the whole idea...) but it's just so slow and boring. At first I figured it was important to establish the scenario, and clearly they want to create complex characters and relationships, so they need a little time. But even after six episodes, almost nothing has happened. Such a pity it's such a waste of time.

And the IMDb rating must be the result of manipulation. You simply cannot compare this with the Sopranos. Sorry IMDb, you have to find a way to protect your credibility and figure out how this has been done. This series is not rubbish, but no way has it earned a nine-star average rating.
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sorrybutt22 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
i first read about this series going into production about 4 years ago. at the time, there was little mention of how central prohibition is to the narrative of the series. if i knew more about history, i might have made that connection right away. but i didn't, and i'm sure that i am not alone.

there has been little reason for me to learn about prohibition, and few people in my life who could teach me about it. until this year when the issue of prohibition came up regarding the taxation and control of another substance. it's remarkably timely that this particular series is released this year.

the 18th amendment prohibited the manufacture, sales, transportation, importation, and exportation of alcohol; consumption of the substance is not mentioned. this meant that the substance itself was not illegal. in the very first episode, this is shown in the plot: the internal revenue agents busts a manufacturing operation; this was shown simultaneously to hijacking of a Canadian alcohol shipment, where the hijackers were markedly afraid that agents would appear. the shipment itself was to be consumed at a judge's daughter's wedding, implicit that the judge would understand that this is legal as long as no one asked where the alcohol came from. the series also clearly points out that it is the bureau of internal revenue which enforced prohibition.

this series is relevant to its time. i haven't been able to watch *anything* for a good 2 years now. i sat through the entire pilot engaged. as other reviewers have pointed out, the historical accuracy and production values are both high. i am impressed at the foresight and skill of the production; i recommend this series and will continue to watch.
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Not the masterpiece we all expected...
grinchbkb19 February 2011
We have been told to brace ourselves for a certified television masterpiece, to be mentioned in the same breath as The Sopranos and The Wire. I admire the PR work behind this one, but having already seen the entire season, I am more than reserved about the hyperbolic praise pouring on Boardwalk Empire.

Of course, there is much to admire in Boardwalk Empire in terms of production values and savoir-faire: from the lavish set (the whole Atlantic City boardwalk was recreated, brick by brick) to the jaw- dropping costumes, from the slick panning-shots to the assured editing, probably never before has TV looked like big-budget cinema. Every single doorknob, period prop or jacket button look expensive; millions have not been spared, and it shows.

Atlantic City is a ghost-town full of dead-men walking, and despite all that illegal champagne flowing and decadent partying, it feels like the mob hedonism, Goodfellas style, is long gone.

Huge credits must also be given to the supporting cast: Michael Pitt, presumably filling in for the Di Caprio obligatory slot (it seems that Scorsese is now unable to produce anything without him, or anybody that looks like him), is by far the most fascinating actor to watch, dominating every scene he is in with a textbook interiorised intensity à la DeNiro; Stephen Graham is a great proto-Al Capone with his pudgy bulldog face; Michael Stuhlbarg pulls out an impressive metamorphosis from the nerdy Jewish academic he played in A Serious Man to the suave yet constantly menacing criminal mastermind Arnold Rothstein ; the disfigured WW1 veteran with his mask and sniper rifle is genius but underused, and finally Michael K. Williams (a.k.a Omar from The Wire), providing a nice touch of self-referential casting (look at how much he enjoys himself declaiming countless "motherfuckers" after all these years of swearing deprivation). Kelly Macdonald inherits the most likable character with the poor Irish immigrant turned courtesan Margaret Schroeder, but she turns out incredibly irksome halfway through the season– mainly because of the stagnant nature of her story lines and the total lack of chemistry with co-star Steve Buscemi. Which leads me to the two antagonistic forces supposedly driving the show: Buscemi's Nucky Thompson, half-gangster half-politician, and Michael Shannon's Agent Van Alden, a quarter Elliot Ness, a quarter puritan and a good half pure sociopath.

This is where one of Boardwalk Empire's main flaws lie: in the miscasting of their two leading men, Steve Buscemi and Michael Shannon. I am not the first one to notice it; as good as Buscemi can be playing the off-kilter supporting role in independent flicks, he does not convince as the main focus of the show. He lacks Gandolfini's stature, DeNiro's charisma, Pacino's menace or Idris Elba's charm – to cite only but a few iconic on screen kingpins. Buscemi is at his best schmoozing during political reunions with his witty one-liners and wry smile, but fails to deliver any thrills when things are heating up. On the other side of the spectrum, Shannon delivers a madly theatrical, completely OTT performance, as the grimacing, self-flagellating federal agent. He never really fits in the show, and personally, I never managed to take him seriously…

Finally, my main concern with this first season is the plot: it's all over the place, consisting of a disjointed bunch of not-so-exciting story lines; the series slightly taking off after five episodes, but never to really climax at any point and ending up with one of the most underwhelming finale I have ever seen. The attempts to introduce a solid socio-historical background are laboured and slow down the action, and in the end are too sporadic to really fulfil their pedagogic intentions.

Most of the events taking place in Atlantic City are dull, and the show only seems to achieve its potential when introducing historical characters like Capone, Rothstein, Lucky Luciano etc. or taking its protagonists to New York and Chicago – wherever Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt) goes basically. The best episode of season 1 is by far "The Face and the Finger", a violent account of the territorial war in Chicago's Greek Town experienced through Jimmy's reluctant involvement. Nothing to do with Nucky Thompson then… Less of him and more of Michael Pitt's Darmody in season two would be a big improvement.

Like most of Scorsese's films of the last 15 years, Boardwalk Empire reaches perfection on a purely technical level, but it feels more like a trip to the museum than a movie – where are the urgency, the guts, the invention that made Marty's earlier stuff so indispensable? It also feels like the weight of expectations is burdening Terence Winter, nowhere near as creative and groundbreaking as he was when penning cult Sopranos episodes.

Maybe it was just a hesitant start to a classic in the making, and Boardwalk Empire, just like The Wire, may turn out to be a slow-burner. Or not.
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Boardwalk Empire is All Boozed Up ***1/2
edwagreen19 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Excellent film depicting the Atlantic City area during the beginning of Prohibition in 1920.

Am wondering if Steve Buscemi will be up to playing suave gangster Nukki Thompson in this series.

It appears that director Martin Scorsese and others associated with this production have all totally captured the period. The set decorations seem to be excellent.

We see that Nukki can actually have a heart in his treatment of Mrs. Schroeder, of course the fact that he has had Mr. Schroeder killed is something else.

The film is very interesting in that it takes us to the beginnings of the illustrious careers of Arnold Rothstein and Al Capone.

Corruption is wide-spread throughout Atlantic City. Even Thompson addresses a meeting of the Lady's Temperance Society at the film's beginning.

As this part ends, we see the linking of Atlantic City to Chicago for violating the Volstead Act. The film is immediately showing that the latter act was so much more trouble than what it was worth.
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