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Drama to Savour
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.