Sep 062014
Boardwalk Empire Season Five Trailer

The first episode of the fifth and final season of Boardwalk Empire airs tomorrow night. While previous seasons had been separated by a year or a year and a half, the fifth season begins in 1931, seven years after the end of season four. Prohibition is clearly coming to an end, and Nucky Thompson is preparing to adjust to the disappearance of the juicy profits from selling illegal alcohol, while Charles “Lucky” Luciano is trying to organize the various gangs into a national commission. Eight episodes seems a bit short given the number of storylines: Chalky White is on the run; Nelson Van Alden is hiding in Chicago; Al Capone has gained control of Chicago; Lucky Luciano seems to have become a powerful gangster; and Nucky is trying to set up new connections in Havana. Hopefully, the final season will maintain the level of the last two seasons, which were my favorites, but it will still be sad to see the series end. Read More…

Apr 102014
Boardwalk Empire Season Four

Another season of Boardwalk Empire, another season of watching characters die or leave the show. Mostly die. Actually, the number of dead or departed characters approached Game of Thrones-levels. This season, Chalkie White (Michael Kenneth Williams) faces the threat of Doctor Valentin Narcisse (Jeffrey Wright), a gangster from Harlem, who plans to expand into Atlantic City, and is the first character on the show to question the social order that made African-Americans second-class citizens. Read More…

Sep 052013
Boardwalk Empire season Four Trailer

Eight months have passed since the climatic end of the third season, and while the series officially focuses on the life of Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Steve Buscemi), it appears that the show will continue to explore the underworld in Chicago and New York City. Although Thompson’s evolution from corrupt politician to full-fledged gangster is interesting, all of the action took place in Chicago and New York City, not Atlantic City, so I welcome the increasing attention to the underworld outside of New Jersey.
In New York, following his betrayal by Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg), Charles Luciano (Vincent Piazza) works for Joe Masseria, even though Luciano loathed Masseria’s old-fashioned mindset and distrust of all non-Sicilians, especially Luciano’s partner Meyer Lansky (Anatol Yusef). Nucky may have eliminated the threat of Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale), a New York-based gangster, but he made enemies of both Rothstein and Masseria. It seems likely that they will seek revenge. 1924 was a tumultuous year in Chicago, since Johnny Torrio (Greg Antonacci) and Al Capone (Stephen Graham) expanded into Cicero, a suburb of Chicago, and the season will introduce Capone’s brothers Frank and Ralph. Aside from Chicago and New York, the show will spend more time in the African-American community. Chalky White (Michael Kenneth Williams) has been rewarded for his support of Nucky during the war against Rosetti with permission to build a high-class club for blacks on the Boardwalk. However, Dr. Valentin Narcisse (played by Jeffrey Wright), a gangster who controls Harlem, will be muscling in on Chalkie’s territory.
Boardwalk Empire has managed to get better every season, so I have high hopes for this season.
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Feb 142013
Boardwalk Empire: Season Three

Following the dramatic end to the civil war for control for Atlantic City, the series has expanded its focus outwards, devoting more attention to the underworld in Chicago and New York, as well as the corruption in the national capital. Season three starts in 1923, roughly a year after the end of season two. Enoch ‘Nucky’ Thompson (Steve Buscemi) has gained firm control of Atlantic City. Pressured by his government contacts to sell to a single customer to reduce attention, Nucky decides that Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg) will be his sole customer, which leads to war with Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale), an astonishingly thin-skinned gangster from New York, who resents Rothstein’s new monopoly.
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Sep 132012
Boardwalk Empire Season Three Trailer

The death of a major character during the season two finale shocked many viewers but it also ended the internal struggle for control of Atlantic City that had occupied the series, thus freeing up space for new characters. The producers now have more opportunities to explore the situation in Chicago and New York City, which is where the real action took place during Prohibition.
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Jan 082012
Boardwalk Empire Season Two

Season Two of Boardwalk Empire balances the fine line between an entertaining soap opera set in Prohibition-era Atlantic City and a chronicle of bootlegging and the rapid social changes that made the 1920s such a turbulent period in American history. Read More…

Nov 102010
Boardwalk Empire Season One

I have to admit that I was underwhelmed by the much-touted pilot episode directed by Martin Scorsese, but after watching a few more episodes, the series is growing on me. I would have thought that a period gangster series would be right up Scorsese’s alley, but I just realized that I have come to expect a certain style from HBO and Scorsese’s lack of a sense of humor dragged down the pilot. Although I originally checked the show out because of the gangsters and Prohibition, I am more interested in its portrayal of the time. Read More…