Boardwalk Empire – episode one review

Posted on 2 February 2011
By Matt Barden
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A solitary boat wobbles amongst the mist and waves of the Hudson, its crew waiting nervously to pass their ill-gotten cargo onto the bootleggers. It’s the beginning of something, not just the dawn of Prohibition and the birth of organised crime, but the start of your new favourite TV show, welcome to the Boardwalk.

Airing yesterday on Sky’s brand-spanking new channel, Sky Atlantic, Steve Buscemi and co lived up to all the hype we’ve been hearing from the other side of the pond for months. Extravagant, brimming with detail, foul mouthed and violent; Terrence Winter’s Prohibition era period drama did not disappoint.

Buscemi plays ‘Nucky’ Thompson, the bent city official who keeps on smiling out of his high collar shirts whether talking to politicians or gangsters.

Vowing to keep Atlantic City ‘wet’ with a huge bootlegging operation, Nucky seems to be a character that could be as memorable as Ian Mcshane’s Al Swearengen (Deadwood) or Jon Hamm’s Don Draper (Mad Men).

A host of other characters were introduced and the relationship between a young Al Capone (Steven Graham) and Nucky’s driver and ex-military man Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt) looks likely to becoming an interesting storyline.

Since airing in the states last year the show has been billed as character driven, but with most of the male characters either straight laced or Dons in the making and the women hussies or mild mannered house wives, Boardwalk will have to develop the grey area in between in the coming weeks to prevent it from becoming two dimensional.

The writers have done a neat job of capturing the atmosphere and essence of the time and with Scorsese behind the camera for this first episode only, the lavish Atlantic City set bristled with life and hopefully this standard can be kept up for the rest of the season.

With high expectations weighted squarely on the shows shoulders it would have been easy to fall short, but Boardwalk delivered more than enough to warrant getting excited for episode two.