Boardwalk Empire is HBO’s new series about gangsters in New Jersey. No, it’s not a Sopranos sequel. It takes place in “Atlantic City, 1920. When alcohol was outlawed, outlaws became kings.”
Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Steve Buscemi) is a pillar of the community. Publicly he promotes Prohibition, but privately he uses his connections, which include his brother the sheriff, to circumvent the law.
The one person Nucky can’t seem to control is his own lackey, Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt), whose dreams of being a bigshot could make or break Nucky’s business.
The show beautifully uses humor to quickly introduce a group of gangsters. During a stakeout, an FBI agent struggles to keep track of them (the nicknames don’t help). At one point he’s so flustered that he jots down on “Serge” on his notepad after his partner points out the casino’s concierge.
The political incorrectness can be a little disconcerting. Granted it’s a period piece but it’s so in your face: wife beating, midget boxing, blackface, a baby incubator sideshow, and a conspicuous closeup of Henry Ford’s anti-Semitic book “The International Jew – The World’s Foremost Problem.” And that’s just the pilot!
It’s definitely not the next Sopranos. There’s more talking then action, which doesn’t get going until the last 20 minutes, but to quote Nucky, “You young fellas, no appreciation for the art of conversation.”