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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 5 April 2011
When I heard that HBO were going to do a period piece about gangsters set in the prohibition era, a kind of Sopranos in spats, it was one of those ideas that was so good you wonder why it hadn't been done before.

Well the wait was worth it as this is adult entertainment at its finest. What you have is a multilayered sprawling epic about prohibition era Atlantic City. At the centre of the story is Steve Buscemi's "Nucky" Thompson a corrupt politician (rather than gangster) who has his brother as the local sheriff and his fingers in all the city's pies.

Nothing is perfect so if there's one grumble the period detail is a little too perfect. Every room, even the run down ones, seem to be dressed to within an inch of their lives and I am not sure anywhere was quite that pristine outside of a lab.

This is a character piece so the emphasis is on characterisation rather than action but that's not to say that there aren't wonderful action set pieces too overall though it's the three dimensional characters that makes it breath. There's the ice cold boot legger Chalky White (Omar from the Wire) a terrifying prohibition officer Agent Nelson all fire, brimstone and a simmering self loathing of his own weaknesses.

There are also great female roles such Margaret Schroeder the Irish immigrant who discovers her own inner strengths at the same time the viewers do and Gillian the most complex grandmother you are likely to come across.

There is a veritable rogue's gallery in the show who are all more unusual than the usual ciphers you get in the average TV shows.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 27 September 2013
The idea of having a series set during America's prohibition era is a good one. The time period has lots of fascinating characters, a distinct style of dress and speech and is a genuinely interesting period of American history. The series boardwalk empire does a credible job of recreating the time. In addition the cinematography is excellent and acting is first class. In essence Boardwalk Empire has all the normal characteristics of a well made HBO series.

However, I did not feel the series deserved a 5 star rating for two reasons. Firstly some of the episodes are somewhat slow and lack the pace I would have expected from a series like this. The second and more influential reason is that the series lacks a single likeable character you can root for and consequently care what happens to them. The series definitely lacks a lovable rogue, a character you can hope turns out alright despite what they do.

Nevertheless Boardwalk Empire is a very good piece of TV and will definitely appeal to those with an interest in this period of American history.
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on 12 May 2012
I was not at all interested in watching Boardwalk Empire as I thought it would not appeal to me and that I wouldn't like it. How wrong I was...
This fantastic first season is filled with an excellent cast who play some fantastic characters in a deep and encapsulating story that deals with booze, money, politics, sex, lies, family histories and everything else in between! I recommend Boardwalk Empire Season 1 as it is a fantastic demonstration of what the Film/TV industry still has to offer! I also recommend buying Season 2 as it is equally as good as (if not better) Season 1 and definitely worth the money and time that will be spent watching this sublime television series!
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on 11 January 2012
Prohibition and votes for women. I never linked the two before I saw this absorbing, clever show. It is suggested that women brought about Prohibition through Temperance Leagues for various reasons including ending poverty, hunger, domestic violence and gaining the vote.
There is much to be learnt here. We in the UK don't really here much about American involvement in World War One. Yet there are men shockingly disfigured and traumatised by their experience. Men that could never fit back into society, much like Vietnam vets. Some find a place in the underworld which blossomed with Prohibition.
Religion and race are examined and, of course, politics. It is a corrupt man's world with fat cats scratching each others backs.
So the breadth and depth of this series is what makes similar TV series more rewarding than a movie ever can be. With 12 hours you can build characters and plots to immersive and absorbing levels. I believe that we are seeing a phenomenon arising where people form such attachments to characters in movies that the sequel and part III are not enough. HBO recognizes this and is at the forefront of providing the remedy with 5 seasons of The Wire for example. Five seasons of The Wire AND IT WAS STILL NOT ENOUGH!
The most expensive TV ever does not actually guarantee quality, but, trust me - here it works. The Boardwalk of Atlantic City is resurrected with CGI and glorious sets and costumes. Steve Buscemi is delightful as a damaged but clever and generous man who sees life for what it is. Or is he a cold calculating murderer? You decide.
So, I would humbly suggest that you get on board this elevator at ground level and see where it takes you.
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VINE VOICEon 11 April 2011
HBO do the best shows on tv in my opinion. The Sopranos, The Wire, Band Of Brothers, The Pacific,Deadwood, Rome, True Blood all great shows and Boardwalk Empire is yet another one. It's slow, the slow pace may put off some, but it's a superbly made series. The pilot, directed by Martin Scorsese, while the legendary director has directed much better films, this is still a fine pilot episode and sets up the rest of the series. Performances are excellent, with Steve Buscemi being the standout as lead character Nucky Thompson while Steven Graham, (no relation to me!) is also superb as a young Al Capone. You always expect quality with the best american shows and HBO in particular and Boardwalk Empire is no exception. Magnificent.
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on 5 January 2011
The likes of The Wire, The Shield, Dexter, The Sopranos and Breaking Bad now have a worthy new contemporary.

Set in Atlantic City at the start of prohibition the story follows the City's corrupt treasurer Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) as he deals with competing gangs from New York, prohibition agents, politicians, local crooks, businessmen, hanger onners, friends and family - all creating thier own issues and all ultimately demanding his attention. The casting is spot on despite initial doubts about his suitability for this role Buscemi puts in a perfect performance. I now couldn't imagine anyone else playing the part.

The creation of the 1920's boardwalk is absolute and never ceases to convince. The stories are fantastic with the usual series storylines interwoven with episode specific sub plots. The addition of Lucky Luciano and Al Capone (at the very start of his career) add interest as does Nucky's love life.

Co-produced by Martin Scorsese (the first episode also directed by him) this series was never going to disappoint. But more than that it soon became a must see.
Plently of plotting and scheming at the end of Series 1 meaning series 2 cant be far away.

If you like any of the shows above you will love this. The setting is rich for a hugely entertaining program and the team behind this have taken full advantage producing something very special for TV.
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on 6 January 2012
This series started slowly for me. I was not sure if it was going to live up to expectations, as the characters were slow to bed into my consciousness. However, come episode four everything clicked. This is a vast , sprawling epic mixing real people with fascinating characters, fact with fiction. I was surprised by how much I did not know about this period and accepted that the plot lines were probably a bit too far fetched. However, I have since watched Ken Burns' 4 hour documentary "Prohibition" which I cannot praise highly enough. Going back to "Boardwalk Empire" armed with a more extensive knowledge of the period, I see that it is not at all far fetched. The various plot strands weave a fascinating tapestry of that period in American history. Every detail of the documentary seems to be covered by this show, the temperance movement, women's emancipation, the first world war, the corruption, the immigrants, the entertainment, the music. It is all there. Do yourself a favour get your hands on "Prohibition"
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on 29 January 2011
Having watched the full season, I am dying for season 2. The depth of these characters is unbelievable. The little insignificant things that show the personalities hidden behind the rough exteriors is like none Ive seen before, even in the sopranos. A joy to watch. My wife could not take her eyes off it either.

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on 6 February 2012
Attention to detail, gradual character development, quality actors, subtle direction, sex and violence only when it is essential for the plot/sub-plot, historical accuracy, magnificent suspense - phrases which all in equal measure accurately describe this masterpiece from the writers [and some actors] from The Sopranos, skillfully directed by Martin Scorcese. Quite simply, the very best television is being made, censorship-free, on HBO these days and this is right up there with The Wire, The Sopranos and.....Spartacus! Just buy this Blu-Ray box set and prepare for 12 eposodes of sheer brilliance. Five stars.
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on 5 February 2014
This series is exceptional and better than The Sopranos. The central idea in The Sopranos is that the main character seeks help from a psychiatrist, something that does not really hold sway. The moral duplicity is already well accepted in the psychological world of the gangster and the individual who decides on this way of life accepts the life, the pros and cons. In Boardwalk Empire it is the secondary characters who are the most morally complex - the women, children and surrounding folk all knowing their world is unhinged, but still enjoying it and hating it in turns. The period detail and art direction is amazing and the character development is flawless. This is the best HBO since Six Feet Under and probably one of the best period dramas ever. The storytelling interweaves with actual political events (such as the call for and rise of women's suffrage) and pays due respect to The Great War and its aftermath in the wonderful characters of Jimmy and Richard. This is not to be missed and should be on the library shelves of anyone with good taste and a need, almost biological need, for great television. Class.
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