the giants family
boardwalk empire addendum

boardwalk empire, series premiere

A series pilot needs to grab our attention while convincing us to stick around for future episodes. The latter is accomplished by an intriguing setup, an interesting cast of characters, or both. Boardwalk Empire succeeds. There were a few Scorsese-fueled set pieces to get our attention; the beginning of the Prohibition Era is a strong setup; there are so many characters with potential we can barely keep track of them. And the acting, for the most part, matches the quality of the writing for those characters.

Thus, Boardwalk Empire has promise. The premiere was very good, and if the series maintains this level, we will indeed be sticking around. But HBO is also looking to re-establish itself as the #1 place for quality television. True Blood is popular but a bit frivolous … Treme is prestigious, but not quite up to the level of The Wire yet … Boardwalk Empire is where HBO hopes to match the success of The Sopranos, and not simply because both are about gangsters.

We won’t know if this is the series HBO desires until we’ve seen a season or more. It’s a fine start, but for now, it’s still only the second-best drama on Sunday-night TV. Which is more than enough for now, given that even the third-best drama (hello, Rubicon) is a very good show. Grade: A-.


Charlie Bertsch

I watched it! And Kim's going to watch it with her Dad on Wednesday, too. I realize, now that I temporarily have HBO, that the fact that there are multiple screenings will make it more likely that I keep watching. I'm too busy or muddle-headed to remember to set the recorder.

My evenings are often interrupted by pressing family duties. Had it only shown in the slot when I intended to watch it, I would have missed it and, even with the possibility of calling it up later from On Demand, I probably would have taken that failure to prioritize the show as a sign that I should expend my cultural energies elsewhere. Not that it would have been a valid assessment, mind you. I know myself, though.

Having managed to see the show at a later time, however, I am caught up in the excitement of having actually seen a new series that my friends are talking about.

I enjoyed it, too. While the plot wasn't treading new ground, the production details and acting were sufficiently strong to hook me. Plus, I'm a sucker for the 20s. And Atlantic City holds an odd place in my psyche, being a place where my father regularly attended meetings from which he brought back saltwater taffy, but which I still have yet to visit myself. Not to mention my affection for Louis Malle's film and Springsteen's song.

Steven Rubio

Atlantic City is one of my fave movies, with an all-time great quote when Burt Lancaster says "You should have seen the Atlantic Ocean back then."


Back when it had 'floy floy', which I hope this series will show us.

Charlie Bertsch

That is a great line. As I let the first episode percolate through my mind, I'm realizing that I liked it more than I thought I had. All the shots of shop windows and interior spaces touched something inside me. I know some have complained that the emphasis on mise-en-scene actually drains energy from the acting and narrative. But for me the historical setting is crucial.

Do you know whether Bruce wrote his "Atlantic City" with Louis Malle's film in mind?

Oh, and how about Omar!

Steven Rubio

Supposedly, Bruce did not have the movie in mind when he wrote the song, although considering how much he likes movies, you'd have to think it was in his mind.

The historical setting is crucial, but I'm glad they've left themselves room to make things up via invented characters.

The more I think about the show, the more it reminds me of Deadwood, with its re-creation of a time and place in America where people were inventing the country all over again. If it turns out to be as good as Deadwood, I'll be more than happy.

And, since I haven't mentioned it elsewhere, I love Kelly Macdonald. Even though I often need subtitles to know what she's saying!

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