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)

Well, I have watched from the begining, and quite frankly it is getting worse! I can't believe Sorcesse has his name on this!


I absolutely love this show you're all crazy. Martin Scorcese is a genious. you people act like you know everything...oh that actor doesn't look anything like him...they never said that in the 1920s...lmao how do YOU know? stop criticizing minor details and enjoy a well acted well directed HBO show that compares to the Sopranos and The Wire.


At only 24 years old,I'm not caught up in watching these Little boys try to be men and i don't care to look at Mr Squeaky voice busemi. I Watch Cute Commanding men like jimmy cagney and the Cigar chomping Eddie Robinson on the turner channel,and this hbo farce should be in black and white,my Sunday nights at 9 are not looking at hbo.


I Wonder why Scorsese doesn't have his name on Bus Ads and Billboards.but only Terence Winter does,not even that Marky-Mark,I guess Scorsese saw all the episodes and Knew it was a work of shit.


How can a Black man in this period bark orders at a high Powered White man who kills people. The Writers should be fired and why all the college kids as gangsters?


The LAMEST Show on TV. Usually when something is OVER-HYPED that is the case,Mindless Entertainment for Mindless People.


How About Michael Madsen as Nucky,and not nasally Squeaky Voiced Buscemi as this Supposed 6'5 bad guy.This Show is Absolute Crap,getting Worse with each new Intstallment.


"Broadway Limited" yet ANOTHER in what's to be a LONG line of Lopsided "BE" Episodes of poorly Written/Acted/Cast and Historically Inaccurate Shows of this "Hyped-up' Television Trash! First off...the Chalky Character a Black man sounds more like a 2010 Gansta rapper than a 1920's Black man,he would NOT be making threats to a White man back then,let alone a Politician/Murdering Gangster like NUCKY. Also he asks for a cigarette and say:"Lemme get one" This Style of Diction "Lemme get one" was NOT used until MAYBE the late 70's Poorly Written Junk. WHY did they have a woman FULLY Nude with her Pussy in the face of a women at a clothes store...Gratutitous Insanity!
Jimmy a World WarI veteran would NOT Flee from Atlantic City JUST because NUCKY tells him to. This show really is garbage!
NUCKY says to CHALKY "We wouldn't want a race war" There was NO such thing as a "Race War" or racial riots in this Country until maybe the 60's. Again this show is GARBAGE! I suppose to "balance" the LACK of period dialogue and proper Actors in these roles,they have every other person Smoking a cigarette and it's OBVIOUS that Most of those actors NEVER smoked one in their Life.Junk!


Boardwalk Empire is a snoozer! After three episodes I was hoping that it would get better, but it's actually getting worse!


The OPENING of this Show is PATHETIC! The "Nucky" Character sraring into a COMPUTER generated OCEAN(which is also the ONLY Ocean they have in the show)with a bunch of Floating Whiskey Bottles and a LOUSY Contemporary Theme Song! And check out the Railing against the Water,OBVIOUS Contemporary Iron Work.
What's More NO Hotel in AC was EVER ON the Boardwalk not even to THIS day,except "Nuckys" in 1920!

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