Boardwalk Empire | First Thoughts

I am a massive history buff so anything – whether it is a book, film or TV show – that takes place in some sort of historical setting is going to pique my interest. And I’ve heard an awful lot of good things about Boardwalk Empire and I adore the roaring twenties, so I decided to give it a shot. It’s not exactly something that I typically watch, and I did zone out some of the gangster and political bits, but on the whole I really enjoyed the first episode. Dooley (aka Shea Whigham) from Agent Carter makes an appearance in it, and I thought that all of the performances were perfect. I’m still in the process of learning all of the characters names (there are a lot of characters) but I loved the use of costume and setting and music in this episode which really brought the story and the world to life. The humour is pretty hard to find, but this program isn’t supposed to be a comedy. It’s dark and intriguing and complex and a really good deep watch.

Atlantic City at the dawn of Prohibition is a place where the rules don’t apply. And the man who runs things – legally and otherwise – is the town’s treasurer, Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, who is equal parts politician and gangster. Side by side with his brother Elias, Atlantic City’s sheriff, and a crew of ward bosses and local tough guys, Nucky gains a reputation as the man to see for illegal alcohol. He does business with all the top gangsters – Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, “Big Jim” Colosimo – and he does it well … until a former protégé takes matters into his own hands, setting the Feds on Nucky’s tail. Will Nucky be able to navigate the shady depths of Prohibition and will he manage to keep himself afloat in the process?

Nucky Thompson is a fantastically complex and multi-layered character and I really think he is the driving force of this show. I also enjoyed Jimmy’s character because his motivations behind what he did were true and honest and good-intentioned; he just wants to provide for his wife and son. I don’t really know any of the other characters by name, although I loved the character of Nucky’s butler. Something that did slightly bother me was the significant lack of female characters. I think there is three women roles and nineteen male roles. Literally. And I know that for the most part, women wouldn’t have been involved in the prohibition, but I still think there should be more female roles on this show. There really was a vast cast of male characters though and each one of them was individual and different, even if I can’t remember all their names quite yet.

Something that I adored about this episode was the excellent use of costume, music and props. Everything added that extra touch to creating a perfect 20s atmosphere for the prohibition-heavy storyline to take place behind. Although this episode was mostly guys in hats and suits walking around talking about alcohol, I did like that there were a few other storylines added in as well, and they all emphasised just how complex a character Nucky really is. He is kind and ambitious and compassionate and driven and I can’t wait to see what happens with him next. This show also doesn’t scrimp on the blood budget – the Prohibition didn’t exactly give everyone a good time – and there’s a fair amount of punches and head shots. There was a faint sprinkling of humour, although it’s quite hard to find, and most of it came from Nucky.

Basically, this show isn’t what I would usually watch but I was very surprised about how much I enjoyed this episode. This is not something that I would really be able to binge watch as the episodes seem to be quite deep and heavy and intense, rather than a quick, light watch but I think this would make a good weekly watch.

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4 thoughts on “Boardwalk Empire | First Thoughts

  1. I completely agree with your assessment! I found Boardwalk Empire very well done and engrossing but dark and brooding in a way that kept me from watching it too often (Breaking Bad did the same thing). I enjoy my time there, but prefer short visits.

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