Season 3 (2012)
Season 2 (2011)
Season 2 (2011)
With a coup underway to oust Nucky, both Jimmy and the targeted treaurer's brother Eli walk a treacherous path, dealing not only with devious gangsters but also a crippling strike by the African-American community at the heart of the summer season. On top of his legal problems, Nucky faces personal problems as a discontented Margaret, now grief ridden after her daughter has been stricken with polio, finds solace with the local parish priest and in overly generous offerings to the Lord. The second season of "Boardwalk Empire" is an almost unfathomable continuation of excellence, somehow maintaining the same cinematic level of greatness achieved in season one. Steve Buscemi turns in a wonderful, nuanced performance which is unlike any other gangster portrayal, at least that I've ever seen. Michael Pitt contributes affecting award worthy work as the cheerless and deceitful Jimmy and Kelly Macdonald is still incredible in the complex role of Margaret. In an impeccable supporting cast, Michael Shannon stands out as the dogged federal agent whose story takes more than a few unexpected turns and Shea Whigham as Buscemi's frustrated, overlooked brother. With its alternately beautiful, brutal, and affecting methods, "Boardwalk Empire" achieves an excellence in television that no other series, with the exception of "Mad Men", even remotely approaches.
Season 1 (2010)
Usually I keep television shows out of the blog, but I feel Boardwalk Empire is a series that approaches great film and, while watching, it feels like a solid 12 hour movie. This should come as no surprise since the show is brought to us by legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese. He directed the first episode, offering the blueprint for the subsequent episodes. He also produces and consults on other aspects of the show. Boardwalk was created by Sopranos veteran Terrence Winter and he brings along other members of that great show. Again, we have a show set in New Jersey, this time in Atlantic City and again we follow professional criminals who drink, screw, curse, lie, cheat, steal, swindle, and murder. We follow several story threads and the main character is AC treasurer Nucky Thompson played by a finely tuned Steve Buscemi. This is not another Tony Soprano, as Thompson has more of a soft spot. This doesn't mean that he isn't capable of carrying out heinous acts. We meet a young Irish widow (Kelly McDonald) who comes into his life and also Jimmy (Michael Pitt) and young enforcer he sees as his own son. The story mixes real characters with fictional ones and all are played by fine actors: Michael Stuhlbarg plays Arnold Rothstein, the New York gangster who becomes at odds with Nucky and his crew. His segments are a highlight of the show and wonderfully acted by Stuhlbarg. Michael Shannon plays an agent and religious zealot on the hunt for bootleggers. We also meet characters such as a hot headed Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, and Warren G. Harding. Boardwalk Empire is also a visual success and a screenwriting success. In an era when ignorance passes for good television, this show is like a breath of fresh air. I urge you seek it out on DVD or on reruns on HBO.