Posted September 19, 2010 by Greg Dragon in TV Show - Recap

Boardwalk Empire – Premiere

With the high-pitched 1920’s era tunes blaring, the dress of the day in full effect and a sea of pink faces scattered across the narrow streets of Atlantic City, Boardwalk Empire blazes across the screen in a scorching premier only worthy of the HBO family of shows. Steve Buscemi (everybody’s favorite supporting actor) is the lead in this new series produced by Martin Scorcese and Mark Wahlberg about Gangsters, politics, G-men and of course prohibition.

This tale is of Atlantic City one time czar Enoch “Nucky” Johnson (Steve Buscemi), his empire of booze, sex and sin during prohibition and his relationships with known gangsters like Lucky Luciano, Al Capone and Arnold Rothstein. While I am normally a real stickler for purity when it comes to portraying historical people, I give Boardwalk Empire a pass since it blatantly states that its portrayal is fictional. While real things from history will occur, the issues shown within Nucky’s life will make him a much more dynamic and interesting character to keep up with weekly.

The Premier Episode (Recap With Light Spoilers)

In this premier we get to meet Nucky Johnson and his young protégé Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt). Nucky is a don of sorts, playing a politician by day and a puppet master by night. Nucky is shown to have the police, the treasury and the gangsters of Atlantic City in his pocket, commanding them to do his will at the drop of a dime. Jimmy has just come home from World War I and is Nucky’s driver but expects to become a whole lot more being that his ambition and intelligence makes him feel belittled.  Jimmy has a beautiful wife and a baby boy, his wife is an artist. Nucky’s wife Mabel is dead and he frequently spends his nights with the showgirl Lucy (Paz de la Huerta).

While Nucky holds the power you soon find out that his life isn’t a bed of roses. People always want help and he is generous, Gangsters from Chicago and New York need favors and he is willing to extend. In the sequences where Nucky meets the Italian and Jewish Gangsters wanting to sell his bootlegged liquor in their towns, we get a chance to meet Scarface Al Capone (Stephen Graham), Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg), Salvatore “Lucky” Luciano (Vincent Piazza) , and Johnny Torrio (Greg Antonacci). The players made to portray these gangsters do an excellent job and were very acceptable as the youthful version of the notorious gangsters. Attention to detail is made with certain trademark things like Nucky’s powder blue limousine, sharp dress habits and red carnation. Luciano has the Sicilian temper and big Al Capone has the scars from the knife cuts on his left cheek,

Nucky gets close to a member of the woman’s suffrage organization and offers his help to her and her serially abusive husband – this is the underlying story of this episode. The woman Margaret Schroeder (Kelly Macdonald) may prove to be something major in upcoming episodes. When Jimmy gets impatient with Nucky’s hesitation with giving him a real position, he partners with Al Capone (now a bodyguard and driver for Johnny Torrio) and robs a set of bootleggers en route to New York. This put Atlantic City in a pickle as Nucky and Arnold Rothstein had hostile words the week before and Torrio is pursuing his own ambitions dealing with big Jim Colosimo. The feuds and angles are carried out in a seamless pattern of disaster after disaster that by the end of premier you cannot feel envious of Nucky’s privileged life.

This premier takes you into the world of Atlantic City underground corruption and drops you right in. The authenticities of many items are held intact and small reminders of the overbearing racism and exclusivity of white privilege is everywhere. It is without question that this will become yet another popular and highly watched series on HBO and I look forward to watching and recapping every episode with you.


Greg Dragon

Cinephile and opinion writer, Greg Dragon has been a fan of movies since the 80's when Kung Fu theater was all the rage and Roger Moore was James Bond. Greg is the founder and lead critic of Spicy Movie Dogs. You can follow him on Twitter @Rafacus or on his Google+ account.