Boardwalk Empire: First Episode, First Impressions

[3ZZJKWUEDPBC]  I’m not sure I can remember being as excited about a new TV show as I have been in recent months anticipating the first episode of HBO’s new venture, Boardwalk Empire. Rather than setting all of this up with a fat preamble like a skilled writer would do, I’m going to just come on out and say it. After one episode, I’m going to go bat-shit bonkers for this show.

It’s a period piece; it’s produced by Martin Scorsese; it’s written by Terrence Winter, one of the screenwriting geniuses behind The Sopranos; it stars Steve Buscemi; it would seem that great pains have been taken to make it historically accurate; and it’s about organized crime. Those of you who know me will recognize that a list of attributes like that was bound to raise my adrenaline. And the first episode did not disappoint. What I liked about the first episode:

  • The show is so clearly trying to pay proper homage to the time frame. Already, we’ve seen era-specific concerns like immigration, prohibition, and soldiers returning from World War I; and era-specific entertainment by way of midget boxing, silent films, vaudeville shows, burlesques, and appropriate music.
  • Last night, we were introduced to Lucky Luciano, Arnold Rothstein, and a doughy young truck driver named Al Capone (complete with facial scars).

    Stephen Graham as Al Capone.

  • They showed Fatty Arbuckle in a scene. I don’t mean that there was a character representing Fatty Arbuckle. I mean that Michael Pitt’s character, Jimmy Darmody, went to a theater and watched an Arbuckle film. This sort of falls under the first bullet about the realism of the era but it goes a little deeper than that because of my appreciation for Arbuckle.
  • Michael Pitt’s character is going to be a great part of this show. The tension between his character- Darmody- and his boss, Nucky Thompson (played by Buscemi) is going to be palpable throughout. The character is developing with some Moltisanti-esque overtones- young and power-hungry.
  • There’s also going to be fantastic tension between the federal agents and the gangsters. In fact, I’m finding the show as something of a bastard child of The Sopranos and The Wire. There’s a heavy criminal element and it’s going to be viewed through the prism of politicians, criminals, the community, and law enforcement. I’m quite curious to see where Agent Van Alden’s character is going to go through the series. He’s clearly the balance, the face of the force, to all of the various criminal elements.
  • I don’t know if you glossed over it or not, but THE SHOW HAD MIDGETS BOXING! And there were other points of humor, as well. Nucky’s assistant is fantastic comic relief. I giggled like a four year old when I heard Nucky/Buscemi use the phrase “wetter than a mermaid’s twat”.
  • The opening episode was extremely well done. It opens with a rum runner standing on a boat at night, out to sea, staring off into the unknown of the thick fog. In other words, he’s just like us, the viewer, staring off into the unknown of where this series is going to go. And as a friend pointed out to me, it served as a reminder of Scorsese’s involvement. The more reminders of this we can get, the more excited you have to be about the show moving forward. Along these same lines, the show’s creators are working hard to use the cinematography to capture the whimsy, bright lights, and overall garish pseudo-pornographic nature of 1920 Atlantic City. Later, we see shots of Nucky/Buscemi peering first into a baby incubator exhibit, noticing impossibly tiny prematurely born children. And again towards the end of the show, Nucky looks into another exhibit with a fortune teller. “What”, Nucky is wondering in both cases, “does the future hold here?”. I love it.

I’m anxiously awaiting the next episode, and I’m already completely enamored with this show.



Filed under Boardwalk Empire, TV Shows

2 responses to “Boardwalk Empire: First Episode, First Impressions

  1. Vision

    Keep it up Droid, I always love to hear more “in-depth” opinions on television shows, with stuff I’d never recognize.

    I usually just watch to see if I’m entertained, but I also like reading about stuff I may have missed.

  2. Pingback: Silent film in 2011 – a new vintage trend? « Silent London

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