Boardwalk Empire Series Premiere Review: What Did You Think?

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With names such as Martin Scorcese and Terence Winter attached to it, Boardwalk Empire promises to be a mobster show with all the brutal, complex, and gritty realism we’ve come to expect from the genre.

However, it didn’t quite lived up to its potential with this slow-paced opening episode. A story with this many moving parts needs a large amount of exposition and no doubt there will be plenty of action in the episodes to come; but this week’s installment didn’t really get off the ground until the last thirty minutes.

Jimmy’s impetuous power play brought some forward motion to the plot, while there was also the gruesome mobster violence we were waiting for. Fortunately, what the episode lacked in excitement, it made up for in its careful exploration of its main characters.

Atlantic City Party

Interestingly, Nucky Thompson, a corrupt Atlantic City councilman, is played by Steve Buscemi, a man better known for his supporting roles. What he lacks in leading man looks, he ably makes up for in shrewd characterization and general likability.

He ably projects the character’s beady-eyed endeavoring to retain and enrich his wealth in the face of Prohibition, while seeming reluctant to go too far into gangster territory. Playing both pillar of the community and corrupt official, Nucky is a politician all the way. He even remarks, “First rule of politics, never let the truth get in the way of a good story.” A good quote from a man who shrouds himself in mystery, especially when it concerns his personal life.

Understandably, Nucky’s main concern is money and most of his actions relate to that subject, but his behavior towards Margaret is incredibly inscrutable.

Naturally, he seems to have a bit of reputation as a local humanitarian, but why does he react so intensely to her situation? Offering her husband a job and sending her off with money seems within the limits of the “caring” councilman, but he is incensed by the sight of her husband gambling away the money she needs for their kids. Already agitated by his confrontation with Luciano and Rothstein, he beats the drunken Hans and sends him home, where Hans savagely beats his own wife causing her to lose her baby.

Upon hearing the news, Nucky schools his face into an expressionless mask, which hides the possible myriad of feelings – shock, anger, guilt, and maybe even opportunism. His expression mirrors his earlier impenetrability when watching the premature babies on the boardwalk’s local Incubator shop. Obviously something in his past, possibly involving his deceased wife, has endeared this newly widowed woman to him. Or possibly her company would be more enjoyable that the shrill Lucy.

Nucky’s young driver, Jimmy, is also a self-sustained man, but he has ambitions that his employer continually ignores. Eschewing his education at Princeton to serve his country, Jimmy comes back a changed man. The psychological trauma of World War I and trench warfare made a huge impact on American life, and it certainly affected the young family man as he is convinced that now his only skill is killing people.

Taking the reins of his own life, Jimmy takes Nucky’s advice and makes his an opportunity for himself. After feeding the feds a useful tip about a local gangster’s bootlegging operation, Jimmy is free to arrange the heist of Rothstein’s liquor. Although unprepared for the bloodbath that ensues (Capone startles easily), Jimmy readily blasts off the face of a New York gangster.

Jimmy will be an entertaining character to watch as he fights his way into the local gangster scene, but Nucky’s involvement in the mob world will definitely be the main focus of our viewing. In this new era, Nucky cannot, as Jimmy says, be half a gangster anymore. Hopefully, his journey deeper into the crime world will move a little quicker in the episodes to come.


Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 (118 Votes)

The Jimmy Character goes to the veterans hospital and we see half his leg is blown apart,no mention of this in earlier shows or even a limp,I think this show limps.


Not ONE "BE" actor has been on ANY Talk Show,regarding it,unlike the SOPRANOS that NEVER had a week go by with at least one actor seen...WHAT does THAT tell you?


This show is "going nowhere"..bad story line.
"U lost a viewer".


DELLA,I AGREE it's like a precursor to the RICO Act,"guilty by Association,if you are even IN a Room full of drug users and the cops bust in,EVERYONE goes "Donwtown" indulging,what kind of writing is this? Then NUCKY makes out with the "Rat" ?


The VOLSTEAD ACT (Prohibition) That essentially Anyone NEAR Alcohol will be Arrested,so WHY in the last episode wasn't the ENTIRE St Paddys Party AND "Nucky" Arrested but just 1 person....HBO get NEW Writers!


They Misspelled Dale Carnegie on a book cover of the last episode,someone Screwed up AGAIN!


The WORST episode thus far was the one Directed by Scorsese the pilot one. AL CAPONE You say "The wire" and "The Sopranos" Started off slow? WRONG on the Sopranos...if THIS show goes ANY slower,it'll be going backwards TV has the Stamp on the will NOT get any better take my word for ut,THAT is why it was Hyped up so Sucks and so does your Absurd "Opinion".


I'm surprised to see all the negative comments here, BE is a very entertaining show, although its not perfect. So it's not 100% historically accurate, who cares. We get it, your the smartest people on the internet, nothing gets past you. I noticed these errors here and there, but it is fiction loosely based on real people. The acting is exceptional, Steve Buscemi may not fit the part, but he is an excellent actor.(someone suggested William Macey...what a joke lmao) Scorsese only directed the first episode but is still involved creatively, I hope he directs more in the future. Keep in mind this is only the beginning of the show there are a lot of characters in this show, the writers need to show character development. The Wire and The Sopranos both started off slow as well, this show has great potential


Pure Fiction. the REAL story of "Nucky" Johnson is rather a Dull one and he had ZERO Connection to Chicago which back then was a million miles away,and Al Capone,Arnold Rothstein,Frankie Yale,Johnny Torrio and "Lucky" Luciano NEVER met him,nor had anything to do with NJ politics let alone Atlantic City. HBO is desperate for another Sopranos...Good luck this Does Suck. You can only fool SOME of the people Some of the Time. I suggest you Weak Minded "Fans" Actually wake up and look for an "Idol" in more Suitable Places,this Show is NOT it...stop kidding Yourselves!


Yeah CASEY "Scorsese is a GENIUS" (you misspelled Genius)THAT'S why he took his name off ALL Public Advertising OF this crap.
And ALL he did was direct the pilot Episode,and NO they DIDN'T speak THAT way in the 20's Sonny Boy....the show SUCKS!

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