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)

Rushed Into production OBVIOUS first Draft Writing. Capone Kicks a guy in the head and when asked WHY he did it...his line is an Absurd:"I'm making a Statment" First of all "Making a Statement" was NOT something people said WAY back then,and Al Capone NEVER worked as a bartender in Atlanctic City,by THEN he was in Chicago Under Torrio making his OWN booze....RIDICULOUS Fiction!


HYPE is what keeps Movies/TV going and before you know it,either people are brainwashed into thinking it really is good or they wake up and see it IS HYPE. They need REAL TOUGH GUYS on this show,this Michael Pitt(Jimmy)does NOT come off as just returning from World WarI he just seems like ANY other Contemporary Soft actor.No Cagneys or Bogarts In this series and NO Period dialogue. If you want the real McCoy Watch Turner Classic Movies
and see REAL men in period Movies this IS a disappointment!
There are MANY Tough guy Actors who are waiting in the wings and should be on this show and NOT These Softies. The guy Playing Frankie Yale who in REAL life was a BRUTAL man comes off as some
Little Boy as does the guy playing "Lucky' luciano,HBO has GOT to be kidding with these kind of Actors!


BORING right off the bat..."Broadway Limited" This Sundays episode Promises to be better. Buscemi is a Great Supporting Actor/Character but CAN'T Carry a lead. They should have Tougher guys in the gangster Roles,instead of these Preppie college boys who Scare NO one. Al Capone is 100% Fictionalized here and the actor playing him is about 5'3" this is RIDICULOUS! "The Ivory Tower" had several No Pay-off Sex Scenes that were trying to Play with the Audience,especially the last scene with the BUM jumping out of the Woods WHERE did THAT scene go? This is NO Sopranos which had MANY Boring episodes also!


Is it just me or did anyone else realize that the opening credits is a COMPLETE ripoff of Rene Magritte paintings. Once again, the "brilliant" Scorsese is ripping off another artist and taking the credit.


Scorsese is one of the biggest name directors out there, especially for period piece movies, seeing him do magic on the small screen is pretty cool to see.
I can't count how many times I've seen his other shows, I think Gangs of New York the most (5+). That could also be because of the actors, but anyway I think BE has big shoes to fill but hopefully it can do it and keep us entertained... Just don't bring a crying female into every fricking episode like another HBO show!!


I was disappointed. Nucky was advertised to be this shark of a man, but he really has a fondness for babies and down-and-out women. Perhaps we are seeing his "corruption". But it's strange, because he's already corrupted, taking the lead in organizing major booze boosts with the powerful Chicago mob. The guy who plays Al Capone looks too congenial and normal. The sex scene was gratuitous and not as funny as intended. Michael Shannon always looks like someone is holding a small turd under his nose, and is boring to watch, mumbling. And the SCRATCHY 20's music they play on the records is grating! Worst of all, the hits of Big Jim Colosimo and the wife-beater were predictable, and done in stereotypical fashion with the alternating scenes to the music and vaudville stage. Ever since Kubrick introduced this concept in Full Metal Jacket (walking into battle with "Bird's the Word" playing), Scorsese and Spielberg have copied it. But, Buscemi is interesting to watch, and it's true that the Sopranos pilot was not indicative of the whole series either. So we should give it a chance.






I felt like I'd seen it before. The blocked road like a Jr. Soprano truck heist, the dumping of "Pussy" (oops... i mean the wife-batterer)overboard, the execution in contrast to the baptism of Connie and Carlo's baby, the FBI raid scene a la "silence of lambs". I hope some new ground can be broken in the future.


you people who didnt like this amazing epic of a premier episode are complete morons. when you say it was 'too dialogue heavy' you actually mean 'im an idiot and dont understand anything but action', look back and see that the slow but very important details are what made shows like The Sopranos great. the pace and dialogue and small but impact-ful action is truly reminiscent of The Godfather; all that was needed in the last few scenes was a christening and it would have been 'The Godfather'. Steve buscemi is a truly magnificent actor and steals the scene in every movie hes in (see; the sopranos, con air, reservoir dogs, the messenger.... just to name a few greats). the action isnt what makes these shows great, its getting to know the all the characters and really feeling for them, and wanting to see more of them. you just have to watch 'goodfellas' to see that making a film/show fast-paced kills it and slowing things down makes you really care and want more and more. even 'scarface' has its slow parts.

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