A Different Kind of Empire

I don’t keep up with popular culture to the extent that I should, so I only found out about this great series from my friend Chris.

Just saw episode 8 of the new HBO series, Boardwalk Empire. I’ve got a column to write today, so I’ll have to keep this sort of brief.

There are several reasons to like this series about a crime family that basically runs all of Atlantic City during Prohibition:

  1. Like the outstanding Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire is about mobsters. One of the things I liked about Sopranos was the writers always made sure the thugs had some redeeming qualities. The very crooked Thompson family — and even their enemies — feature at least a few characters you can connect with on some level (e.g Jimmy Darmody)
  2. The production is highly stylized without being pretentious. Most of the characters are sharply drawn without being reduced to caricatures. That is no mean feat in a series about the mob.
  3. I love how the lead character, Atlantic City treasurer and mob boss Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, doesn’t look like a mobster. He looks like an impeccably dressed nerd. That bit of ironic casting actually makes Nucky a little more frightening than, say Tony Soprano or Vito Corleone.

Here’s something not to like about it:

  • There is so much gratuitous, profanity, nudity and sex that you’ll want to make sure you are well out of range of children. If I were watching a scene in the cat house that Jimmy frequents, I would be absolutely horrified if my 12-year-old daughter walked in.

Of course, other than that, the series is perfect. If you haven’t already, take a look and let me know what you think.

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  • Terrence McCarthy

    What you write makes me wish we still had HBO, Terry. Another thing. Anything Steve Buscemi is in is bound to be way above average. Fargo. The Big Lebowski, etc.

  • Jordan Fenster

    There was an interesting discussion on NPR a few months ago about the music in the series. Not over the top, just right for the time period and very well done.

  • Terry Cowgill

    Buscemi is good, no doubt. I agree about the music. It is decidedly more modern than the era of the show, but it has just the right tone and is just a bit edgy.

  • VictimsRevenge

    Terry, Jordan said it was just right for the period. Do you have some kind of a problem Jordan's assessment of the music on the show? I’m starting to get a little fenstrated about your comments. After I become fenstrated I start to develop a fenstral cramp that can be quite excruciating. It starts down in my lower fenstral region, then it extends down to the actual fenster, and it causes some major discomfort when I perform my daily function as I visit the commode. I’m beginning to think that it might be serious. I hope it doesn’t mean that I’ll need to see a fenstetrician, that’s so embarrassing.

  • Terry Cowgill

    Victim, I think I can speak for all my readers when I say we can do without descriptions of your Irritable Fenster Syndrome.

  • VictimsRevenge

    Terry, I’m not sure you understand what I’m saying here. Jordan said the music in the series was just right for the time period. Where do get off contradicting his judgment? He’s from Westport Connecticut, his family buys and sells people like you every day at brunch. If he says the music was just right, then it was just right.