Saturday, 9 November 2013

Boardwalk Empire: Season One (2010) - ★★★★½

Directors: Martin Scorsese, Timothy Van Patten, Jeremy Podeswa, Alan Taylor, Allen Coulter, Brian Kirk, Brad Anderson, Simon Cellan Jones
Writers: Terence Winter (Creator/Writer), Meg Jackson, Nelson Johnson (Book)
Stars: Steve Buscemi, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Pitt, Michael Shannon, Shea Whigham, Michael Stuhlbarg, Aleksa Palladino, Stephen Graham, Vincent Piazza, Paz de la Huerta, Gretchen Mol, Michael K. Williams, Paul Sparks, Dabney Coleman, Jack Huston

Boardwalk Empire is quite simply, one of the greatest TV shows of all time. It's filled with masterful performances, colourful scenes, picturesque cinematography, unforgettable events, and a downright thrilling story. If the Academy Awards gave out Oscars for TV shows, then this would certainly earn awards for Best Series, Cinematography, Actor, Supporting Actress, and Supporting Actor. It's just that magnificent.

I think most of us know that Boardwalk Empire is first and foremost about the criminal underbelly of 1920s Atlantic City. It specifically focuses on one man, Enoch 'Nucky' Thompson (Steve Buscemi), who is the treasurer of Atlantic City, but also the person who really runs the show. We follow his many dramas, as well as historical moments from the time (prohibition, women's rights etc.). It's such an amazing show. By the time I finished the season (12 episodes), I'd felt like I had been watching it for years. That's because the character's really stuck with me, and their stories became a big part of my life.

Steve Buscemi is officially one of my favourite actors of all time. I've always been used to seeing him as a wimp, or a weasly guy in gangster films. Remember The Big Lebowski, where he was always told to "Shut the fuck up!" Well he completely sheds that wimpy image with his powerful performance as Nucky. I don't know how, but Buscemi just oozed strength, intelligence, and ruthlessness in this role. I think his performance in this show is the high-point of his great career.

Kelly Macdonald evoked a lot of sympathy out of me, and I came to like her character greatly. She played Margaret Shroeder, the love interest of Nucky. Macdonald's performance, and her character, bring sensitivity and depth to a show filled with testosterone and men.

Kelly Macdonald as Margaret Shroeder.
In my opinion, the best of the best was Michael Shannon as prohibition agent Nelson Van Alden. He fully became this fanatically religious character, I couldn't even recognize him at first. His piercing stares and perfect delivery of dialogue just made him stand-out above all others. Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt) was by far my least favourite character, and storyline, in the whole show. He's so whiny, and at times detestable. I just didn't care for him at all. Pitt gave a great performance though.

Michael Shannon deserves every award under the sun for his performance.
So basically, the character's each had a powerful effect on me in one way or another. What is MOST impressive about the show is the meticulous attention to detail in each scene. The costumes are just phenomenal, even on the men. I loved seeing Nucky's new suits, or Margaret's new dresses. It just gives us a full perspective of the times. The set-production, AKA  the recreation of the boardwalk, is also bloody brilliant. The special effects are really good for a TV production (it's on par with Game of Thrones). So with the characters, dialogue, costumes and surrounding all telling a tale of the 1920s, there was one thing that REALLY made the show pop. The music. I LOVED the usage of the music, which was a mixture of vaudeville and even classical. I'd give these aspects 10/10.

What else can I say? I really loved this show. It's wildly entertaining, it always leaves you begging to see the next episode, and it's absolutely unforgettable. Season One of Boardwalk Empire is a landmark achievement in Television, and guess what, it gets even better in Season Two. I highly suggest you give this show a watch.

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