Last week in the Boardwalk Empire premiere we saw Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) raising his glass as the clocked ticked down to midnight:
As you know, in less than 2 hours, liquor will be declared illegal by decree of the distinguished members of our nation’s congress. To those ignorant bastards!
We got to see Nucky hustling the well-intentioned ladies of the Women’s Temperance League, telling tales of woe about a Dickensian childhood he never had. He easily manipulates their understandable desire to be freed from the social ills inflicted by alcoholic fathers and spouses — an objective that would soon be better served when women were granted the right to vote.
Nobody thinks the public demand for alcohol is going to disappear with the advent of prohibition — in fact, they’re counting on it. Young Al Capone and Lucky Luciano are already circling Atlantic City, looking to make their fortunes as an enormous legal revenue stream is suddenly transferred to the black market.
It’s always hard to shoot a pilot. The style of the show isn’t set, the characters haven’t worked out their relationships and everyone is still trying to find the rhythm of the show. The glamour of the sets and the cast weren’t quite matched by last week’s storyline, and everything felt a little wooden and two dimensional (and I’m not sure Scorcese’s professorial devotion to period music did them any favors).
Comparisons to the Sopranos are inevitable, but it’s not really fair to measure a series that had eight years to develop its style to the new kind on the block. I’m liking it so far (especially the Magritte-inspired opening credits), but it has some growing to do.
See you in the comments for the watch party. Sponsored by Just Say Now.