blu-ray series #4: robinson crusoe on mars (byron haskin, 1964)
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boardwalk empire, season four finale

There is no use wasting space just so I can say what I’ve been writing for the past four years. Boardwalk Empire is currently one of television’s most admired shows. I like it a lot, myself. It has the feel and look of a movie, and as much as I like to tout the pleasures of great television, there is still something to be said for a show that reminds one not just of novels, but of elegant films. The acting is very good across the board. And I’ve probably written less about it over the years than any show at a similar level of quality.

And I’ve said this every season, and I don’t have any reason to change my opinion now, which is why this post is short, and why most of my Boardwalk Empire posts are short. (The last time I wrote about it, earlier this season, I spent most of the time talking about The Newsroom, a show that bothers me more than it gives me pleasure.) I admire that Terence Winter is willing to kill off important characters if the narrative demands it … part of that is historical, since real people like Al Capone populate the cast, but even fictional characters can disappear, which is something not many series will accept. (Season Two of Empire ended with the death of arguably the most important character in the show, other than the nominal lead, Steve Buscemi’s Nucky Thompson.) Season Four ends with the loss of perhaps the best character Winter has created for the show, and it was time … it was probably time two seasons ago, in that respect Winter kept the actor/character around because it was hard to imagine him being gone. But now he’s gone, and we really care, because that character wasn’t just a finely-honed example of Hollywood excellence.

So, Boardwalk Empire continues to be an excellent series with plenty of interesting characters involved in a scene (1920s Atlantic City) that works well for an audience. And I feel like I’ll be giving it an A- grade until the inevitable falloff. There are worse things on television than a series that consistently delivers an A-. But if I ever figure out why Boardwalk Empire, for all it does well, somehow ends up just short of the pantheon, I’ll be surprised.



"But if I ever figure out why Boardwalk Empire, for all it does well, somehow ends up just short of the pantheon, I’ll be surprised." Maybe our notion of that is very contextual. For you it's short of that because its short of that, for you. I suspect for a 20 year old who hadn't seen the Godfathers or other things, this might feel different, even be different.

I feel the same way as you. For me it's really about people to cheer for. The most fucked up thing the Godfather and Sopranos ever Idid was make me like/love/feel for some of the characters. I took sides like I was in it, like one was right and the others wrong. This show makes me feel them, but at a distance. They're all wrong, messy, real. It just makes it different. Strangely better and worse.

Steven Rubio

That's a great point. No one is particularly likable, although the afore-mentioned, spoiler-free character who didn't make it out of Season Four was one I cared about. Sons of Anarchy also lies in this area ... there are characters you root for even though you don't want to. But those characters are so over-the-top bad that my affection for them has faded, and I long for just one person worthy of my respect. Which is probably a good thing ... these are not good people.

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