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83 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HBO's Atlantic City Hit Raises The Drama, Tension, And Betrayal In A Season That Redefines Major Characters And Relationships
Certainly one of the most admired shows on the 2010 television schedule, HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" boasted the year's most impressive pedigree with Martin Scorsese taking a production credit and even directing the pilot episode (for which he won an Emmy). This brain child of Terrence Winter, a primary creative force and writer for "The Sopranos," adapted the Nelson Johnson...
Published on December 13, 2011 by K. Harris

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Implausible Writing
Spoiler alert. Some very half-baked writing that shows a lack of familiarity with the subject matter. A few examples: No hit man with any common sense would plan to kill a high profile politician in a crowded ballroom. Too many chances for things to go wrong, too many witnesses, etc. Then he shoots from 15 feet away ensuring that fatal shot would not be delivered. And...
Published 15 months ago by J


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83 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HBO's Atlantic City Hit Raises The Drama, Tension, And Betrayal In A Season That Redefines Major Characters And Relationships, December 13, 2011
This review is from: Boardwalk Empire: Season 2 (DVD)
Certainly one of the most admired shows on the 2010 television schedule, HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" boasted the year's most impressive pedigree with Martin Scorsese taking a production credit and even directing the pilot episode (for which he won an Emmy). This brain child of Terrence Winter, a primary creative force and writer for "The Sopranos," adapted the Nelson Johnson non-fiction work chronicling the sordid history of Atlantic City into a masterful blend of fact and fantasy. Embraced by mainstream critics and viewers alike, "Boardwalk Empire" picked up a Golden Globe for Best Dramatic Program and acting honors for lead Steve Buscemi at both the Globes and the SAG awards for its debut season. And yet, if I'm being completely honest, while I issued my highest recommendation for the artistry of Season One--it always connected more with my intellectual side, but never quite my heart. Season Two, however, became my passion in 2011. With richer characterizations, plot developments rivaling any Greek tragedy, and a stunning season capper--"Boardwalk Empire," in its second season, was as thrilling and riveting as any show on TV.

Taking the relationships that were developed in Season One, "Boardwalk Empire" raised the stakes for just about everyone in these twelve episodes. I won't discuss many specifics or reveal any surprises, but the show struck gold when it turned its leads Steve Buscemi (as Atlantic City politico Nucky Thompson) and Michael Pitt (as his surrogate son and primary enforcer) from a mentor/student bond to outright rivals. Most of the episodes capitalize on this split, as major characters are forced to align themselves on one side or the other. And this power struggle brought new depth, new cunning, new betrayal, and new ambitions to the surface in a variety of ways to the principle cast. The dramatic arc of the season was bigger, more emotional, and more surprising than anything I had anticipated. There were at least three moments as the show neared its season conclusion where my jaw just dropped and I sat in stunned silence. The show was certainly true to the ruthlessness of the era and was wildly unpredictable.

Buscemi, in particular, had a stellar year. As his professional world crumbled around him in light of numerous legal woes--Buscemi had a quiet intensity that was riveting to watch. You don't become boss, after all, by just giving up! Pitt, a little passive in Season One, took on a stronger role--torn between various factions, but trying to negotiate just what was right or what he could live with. Kelly Macdonald, as Nucky's main squeeze, finally had to fully accept her place in this criminal world from which she was benefiting. It was very refreshing! Gretchen Mol (as Pitt's mother, though in real life she is only 8 years his senior) broke out as a true power player and was fantastic! Shea Whigham (as Buscemi's brother) tried to emerge from Nucky's shadow in perhaps the show's most undervalued performance. And Michael Shannon (as the agent obsessed with Buscemi) continued to face the repercussions of his bad acts in Season One. Along with great supporting bits, including my favorite Dabney Coleman, the terrific Michael Kenneth Williams and scene-stealing Jack Huston, newcomers Charlie Cox and Julianne Nicholson scored big as well.

There was never any doubt that "Boardwalk Empire" was one of the best cast and acted dramas on television. But every major character, and most minor ones as well, were given a chance to shine in a year that raised the dramatic stakes, moral compromise, and naked aggression to stunning new heights. Operatic in its grandeur, unapologetic in its viciousness--anyone that was put off by the slow build tension of Season One should appreciate how well that investment has paid off in an unforgettable second year! Serious drama for adults (and one of the most spectacular visual shows from the period recreation standpoint), "Boardwalk Empire" has always engaged my brain--but this year, my heart is fully along for the ride. KGHarris, 12/11.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW!, August 28, 2012
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So, I pre-ordered this, with the rest of my TV, months ago. No clue that this was going to be as big a set as this was. The series and season are good, they're excellent, but I'll let others describe those. Me? I'm going to focus on the actual product here instead.

This box comes with 3 Blu-Ray discs, packaged by themselves. At the price paid for it, you'd think that would be all you get, considering it's a pretty standard price. HBO goes the extra mile though, by far. This set ALSO comes with (separately packaged) 2 double sided DVD's with all 12 episodes.. But wait, THERE'S MORE!!! HBO also throws in one code that allows you to download ALL episodes, PLUS 3 special features, ALL in HD off of iTunes.

I've got, in my collection, probably 30, 40 television shows, most with multiple seasons. NONE of them have given out this much for this little. I think the closest I've seen was Chuck and Grimm with Ultraviolet digital copies (which aren't horrible, but they're not iTunes), nothing at all with the amount of 'extra' release content we have here.

EXCELLENT job, HBO. Keep up the great work!!!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HBO's Atlantic City Hit Raises The Drama, Tension, And Betrayal In A Season That Redefines Major Characters And Relationships, September 4, 2012
Certainly one of the most admired shows on the 2010 television schedule, HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" boasted the year's most impressive pedigree with Martin Scorsese taking a production credit and even directing the pilot episode (for which he won an Emmy). This brain child of Terrence Winter, a primary creative force and writer for "The Sopranos," adapted the Nelson Johnson non-fiction work chronicling the sordid history of Atlantic City into a masterful blend of fact and fantasy. Embraced by mainstream critics and viewers alike, "Boardwalk Empire" picked up a Golden Globe for Best Dramatic Program and acting honors for lead Steve Buscemi at both the Globes and the SAG awards for its debut season. And yet, if I'm being completely honest, while I issued my highest recommendation for the artistry of Season One--it always connected more with my intellectual side, but never quite my heart. Season Two, however, became my passion in 2011. With richer characterizations, plot developments rivaling any Greek tragedy, and a stunning season capper--"Boardwalk Empire," in its second season, was as thrilling and riveting as any show on TV.

Taking the relationships that were developed in Season One, "Boardwalk Empire" raised the stakes for just about everyone in these twelve episodes. I won't discuss many specifics or reveal any surprises, but the show struck gold when it turned its leads Steve Buscemi (as Atlantic City politico Nucky Thompson) and Michael Pitt (as his surrogate son and primary enforcer) from a mentor/student bond to outright rivals. Most of the episodes capitalize on this split, as major characters are forced to align themselves on one side or the other. And this power struggle brought new depth, new cunning, new betrayal, and new ambitions to the surface in a variety of ways to the principle cast. The dramatic arc of the season was bigger, more emotional, and more surprising than anything I had anticipated. There were at least three moments as the show neared its season conclusion where my jaw just dropped and I sat in stunned silence. The show was certainly true to the ruthlessness of the era and was wildly unpredictable.

Buscemi, in particular, had a stellar year. As his professional world crumbled around him in light of numerous legal woes--Buscemi had a quiet intensity that was riveting to watch. You don't become boss, after all, by just giving up! Pitt, a little passive in Season One, took on a stronger role--torn between various factions, but trying to negotiate just what was right or what he could live with. Kelly Macdonald, as Nucky's main squeeze, finally had to fully accept her place in this criminal world from which she was benefiting. It was very refreshing! Gretchen Mol (as Pitt's mother, though in real life she is only 8 years his senior) broke out as a true power player and was fantastic! Shea Whigham (as Buscemi's brother) tried to emerge from Nucky's shadow in perhaps the show's most undervalued performance. And Michael Shannon (as the agent obsessed with Buscemi) continued to face the repercussions of his bad acts in Season One. Along with great supporting bits, including my favorite Dabney Coleman, the terrific Michael Kenneth Williams and scene-stealing Jack Huston, newcomers Charlie Cox and Julianne Nicholson scored big as well.

There was never any doubt that "Boardwalk Empire" was one of the best cast and acted dramas on television. But every major character, and most minor ones as well, were given a chance to shine in a year that raised the dramatic stakes, moral compromise, and naked aggression to stunning new heights. Operatic in its grandeur, unapologetic in its viciousness--anyone that was put off by the slow build tension of Season One should appreciate how well that investment has paid off in an unforgettable second year! Serious drama for adults (and one of the most spectacular visual shows from the period recreation standpoint), "Boardwalk Empire" has always engaged my brain--but this year, my heart is fully along for the ride. KGHarris, 12/11.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Second Season....as good or better than Season One!, September 24, 2012
This review is from: Boardwalk Empire: Season 2 (DVD)
The second season (12 episodes) of Boardwalk Empire remind us all that great writing, great plots and a great cast can make for television drama that we cannot get enough of. In this case, Season 2 of Boardwalk Empire meets and exceeds every expectation that I would have after watching the first season. Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) now fights for control of Atlantic City and the liquor empire. The cast of characters he has to deal with from Chalky White, to Leo Rothstein, to corrupt senators, judges, lawyers, family (his brother, Eli, to a Treasury Agent (Van Aulden) and acquaintances, it will be a huge time for Nucky Thompson and a time of danger as Prohibition ruled the nation while a nation of thirsty drinkers continue to fuel the wars over alcohol.

Every episode is outstanding. I won't "spoil" who dies in Season 2. The reality is that a LOT of people die in Season 2 because it had to happen. The show's central theme continues to be the fact that prohibition made better mobsters than ever before and it meant that money bought anything and everything so that the alcohol would flow despite the laws against it in the early 1920s.

Season 2 ends with a wild finish. Losing a character or two from Season 2 will make for an intersting third season (and hopefully further seasons after that!), but with this cast, the writing and the plot(s) I know the series is going the right direction. What I don't understand is why this show was not nomianted for more Emmys as the cast was great. That is truly an injustice to this series.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Implausible Writing, March 20, 2013
By 
J "bontonroulez" (Washington, DC United States) - See all my reviews
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Spoiler alert. Some very half-baked writing that shows a lack of familiarity with the subject matter. A few examples: No hit man with any common sense would plan to kill a high profile politician in a crowded ballroom. Too many chances for things to go wrong, too many witnesses, etc. Then he shoots from 15 feet away ensuring that fatal shot would not be delivered. And what's this? A federal agent just happens to be standing nearby with his gun loaded and ready to kill the would-be assassin -- too convenient and defies belief.

Jimmy Darmody's crew surprising Lansky and Luciano in the woods: Drop your guns! Sure. No problem, Darmody. Let me just surrender my weapon while you hold a gun in my face. We're talking about Lucky Luciano, one of the most notorious gangsters of all time. That's a lot of trust to place in a guy who tried to kill you a few episodes back. Doesn't stand up.

The interminably long drama of the sanctimonious Margret Schroeder is too painful to watch. Her character is a bore and yet a good chunk of the show revolves around her.

The worst thing I can say is that the overall story arc flounders between random events that appear to be added simply to spice up the script. (Let's have the ordinarily thoughtful Darmody throw somebody off a balcony, for no apparent reason). Random.

Nucky's brother is another random mystery. Shrewd and clever or stupid and jealous? If so shrewd, how does he commit such blunders? If so stupid and full of contempt for Nucky, how did he get so far as his trusted ally? There's an air of implausibility that permeates much of the writing.

Despite the flaws, I've watched 2 seasons. I like going back to the days of Prohibition. The costumes and sets are believable. I also like the historic representation of the famous hoodlums Rothstein, Lansky, Capone, and Luciano, even thought they are often besotted by bad writing...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Entertainment: One of the Best Shows on Television, January 24, 2014
By 
Darina (Pleasant Hill, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Boardwalk Empire: Season 2 (DVD)
Without experiencing Boardwalk Empire, one might think this is just another "gangster flick." But nothing could be further from the truth. The artistry of the cast, director, set designers, writers, sound engineers, etc., bring the early decades of the 20th Century in America to vivid life. Characters are fully imagined; we come to understand the light and the dark forces that move each of them. The plight of women trying to maintain dignity and a sense of self in a world ruled by men is brilliantly explored from several different angles. There is brutality, because this is a story about ruthlessness. And there are stunning expositions of racial and cultural divisions. There are soldiers wounded from the first World War, who are so damaged that their only career in civilian life is creating death. Hide your eyes, if the violence is too much, but watch this series. Boardwalk Empire is unforgettable.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The second act is better than the first., June 12, 2013
This review is from: Boardwalk Empire: Season 2 (DVD)
The second season of BOARDWALK EMPIRE brings back Nucky Thompson and the whole gang from Atlantic City for another epic of scheming, double dealing and cold blooded murder in Prohibition America. Like the first season, I watched the second on DVD, taking in three episodes in one sitting and it was like plowing through multiple chapters of a good book at one time. In the second season, BOARDWALK EMPIRE makes it clear that it is no retro version of THE SOPRANOS, but a superb saga in its own right.

At the end of the first season, a group of Nucky's partners in crime, including surrogate son Jimmy Darmody and brother Eli, enter in an alliance with Dabney Coleman's nasty old Commodore in a plan to dethrone the King of Atlantic City. This scheme becomes a reality in season two as Nucky is indicted on charges of vote fraud and is forced out of his job as Treasurer, allowing his former allies the chance to take over his vast bootlegging network in AC.

But Nucky does not go down without a fight and the battle to reclaim and hold onto his empire of crime is the main story arc of the second season. Nucky will need all of his considerable smarts and cunning to survive; and his enemies would do well to remember the old warning: when you strike at a king, you'd better kill him. Steve Buscemi is really at the top of his game in this season, dispelling all doubts that he could not handle a lead role; his Nucky is a man who may be down, but who is never desperate, even when the Federal Prosecutor, Esther Randolph, is ready to put his common law wife, Margaret Shroeder, on the stand and implicate him in the murder of Margaret's husband.

For me, the moment that defines the season comes in the finale when Nucky tells Margaret that the only thing which might convince him of God's existence is the love he feels for her and her children and the only good thing in his life is the bond of family they give him. Buscemi delivers these lines with the utmost sincerity, but we are well aware that it is in his interest to convince Margaret to marry him so she can't be compelled to testify against him.

There are various other story lines in season two, all driven by such memorable characters as Michael Pitt's Jimmy Darmody, who finds that being the big man in Atlantic City is not all it is cracked up to be; Jack Huston's disfigured WWI vet, Jimmy's loyal trigger man who can't quite leave the battlefield behind; Stephen Graham's Al Capone, Vincent Piazza's Lucky Luciano and Anatol Yusaf's Meyer Lansky: all middlemen itching to get to the top of the heap in their chosen profession.

Then there is the great Michael Shannon as Federal Agent Nelson Van Alden, a man whose deep repressions finally burst to the surface, utterly shattering the facade of virtue he presents to the world.

I do have some problems with the way Margaret Shroeder's part was written this season and the way Kelly McDonald was directed to portray her as a woman who feels pangs of guilt as she becomes ever more prominent and complicit in Nucky's life and crimes. At times I just can't see why Nucky could be all head over heels over this gloomy Irish lass. McDonald has some great moments, especially in the finale, but Margaret seems utterly incapable of experiencing joy except for that fleeting moment of coitus with Owen Slater.

There are a host of great supporting players, some holdovers from season one like Michael Stuhlbarg's ultra slick Arnold Rothstein; Gretchen Mol as Jimmy's mother, who loves her little boy an awful lot; Paul Sparks's Mickey Doyle and his annoying giggle; Shea Whigham's lackwit Sheriff Eli Thompson, who is no match for his brother; Michael Kenneth Williams's Chalky White, who battles the KKK while always angling to get the best deal for his people from whatever powers that might be.

And then there are the new guys (and girls) in town: Charlie Cox as henchman Owen Slater, who provides Nucky with a valuable connection to the rebels in Ireland; William Forsythe as a kosher butcher in Philadelphia with a side business in bootleg whiskey; and Julianne Nicholson's Esther Randolph, the Federal Prosecutor, the one woman with power in her own right.

Greg Antonacci and Dominic Chianese (Uncle Junior himself), both alumni of THE SOPRANOS, have small parts and there is a great turn by Christopher McDonald (Shooter McGavin) as Attorney General Harry Daugherty, possibly the most corrupt man to ever sit in a President's Cabinet, and that is saying something.

But the great uncredited character in BOARDWALK EMPIRE is the America of 1921, vividly recreated in the clothes, the cars, the music and in the temper of the times when the old America of the 19th Century, with its agrarian values and Victorian morals were giving way to a country that had gone big city. There were fortunes to be made and the Irish, the Italians, the Jews and the Blacks, all groups who'd long been disdained by the majority of their countrymen, were now damned and determined to get their fair share of the money any way they could. Prohibition may have been the law of the land, but there were millions who still wanted a drink and could have cared less about right or wrong.

All in all, season two of BOARDWALK EMPIRE is great entertainment, a thrilling history lesson and good storytelling, all to the credit of a great cast and writer Terrance Winter. I wouldn't be spoiling anything when I say there is a confrontation at the end of the season that is a stunner and well worth the journey to get there.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scorsese does it again!, November 16, 2012
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This review is from: Boardwalk Empire Season 2 (Amazon Instant Video)
Season two was just as entertaining as season 1. There were alot of plot twists, and some characters were punished who I thought shouldn't have been. However, with the legal action tipped in Nucky's favor, an FBI agent exposed as a criminal, and a land deed transferred to a church, I am quite looking forward to the third season. Kudos to the producers and writers!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent DVD with Worth Watching Extras, September 21, 2012
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Boardwalk Empire is a fantastic series. The DVD comes with loads of commentary and a nice "Making Of" extra making the DVD worth the price. Streaming is nice and convenient but the extras are not to be missed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic Roaring 20's series about America's "original gangsters", September 20, 2012
This review is from: Boardwalk Empire: Season 2 (DVD)
"BoardWalk Empire" is currently one of HBO's most popular shows; the third season just premiered its first episode on Sunday, September 16th with a harder, more violent series of events that revolve around the illegal sale of alcohol during prohibition on New Year's Eve 1923 in New Jersey, New York and Chicago. It holds true to the parting words of Jimmy Darmody in Season 2, as he tells his one time mentor Nucky that "you can't be half a gangster anymore." As the series has progressed, it is shaping up to be the finest example of how the modern American racketeer was created. Martin Scorsese is an executive producer, and this show might rank with some of his best work, although he is not in the director's chair. Scorsese is the authority on mob stories, and his seal is definately upon "Boardwalk Empire."

The first season opens during the start of prohibition with the Volstead Act in 1919, with this second season occuring during 1921-22. "Boardwalk Empire" obviously centers around the expanding beachfront resort community of Atlantic City and its County Treasurer/mob boss, Nucky Thompson (played by Steve Buscemi), who is based on one the real life politicos of New Jesey, Nucky Johnson. Season 2 has also included some of Prohibition's political figures, mainly President Warren Harding and Attorney General Harry Daugherty, who is Nucky's "ace up the sleeve".

This series is really a unique look back at the formative age of American mobsters, done through the genre of historical fiction. Terrence Winter (also of "The Sopranos") has teamed up with Scorsese and Mark Wahlberg to mix actual characters from the criminal underworld who rose through the "gangster finishing school" that was prohibition, with fictitious figures such as Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt) and Prohibition Agent Nelson Van Alden. This is an interesting take on an important period in American history; the writers of the show have been able factor in the real to life stories of legendary prohibition era gangsters (Arnold Rothstein, Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky and Al Capone) with the purely invented characters that have a serious effect on historical events. This works very well because in mob folklore, there are many versions of reality, as most deals are obviously not documented, leaving the actual truth open to a degree of speculation. Jimmy Darmody features as the main fictitious persona in Seasons 1 and 2, as his ill fated family history which tied him to the highest levels of Atlantic City ultimately brought him down in a series of bad decisions, perhaps a tutelage in what not to do in that kind of situation.

Season 2 was similar to most major gangster stories, in that it centers around a "beef", which escalates into a full scale turf war for the control of Atlantic City's alchohol supply. The principals are Nucky (Buscemi) and his volatile relationship with a man known as "The Commodore" (played by Dabney Coleman), who is a behind the scenes old time boss of AC with connections to all the blue bloods of New Jersey. It is revealved at the end of season 1 that Jimmy Darmody (straight off the French battlfields of WWI) is the illegitimate son of the Commodore, yet Nucky was the one who "raised" Jimmy. This sets the events in motion, as the viewer learns that Jimmy is a tragic figure of Greek proportions, and his plight creates the climax to Season 2.

This show is also an amazing ensemble masterpiece. Michael Shannon plays an initially devout Prohibition agent (Van Alden) who allows the boardwalk to change his ways, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Kelly MacDonald plays the conflicted woman in Nucky's life, an Irish immigrant who shows an advanced intellect and develops Nucky's modernist respect for women's rights, yet appears to be a mistake because of the circumstances of their initial acquaintance. Michael Kenneth Williams (the legendary stick up kid Omar in another HBO series, "The Wire) is the city's black boss, which gives the show alot of racial commentary, and Season 2 also has William Forsythe as a creepy Yiddish butcher from Philidelphia who has little compunction about "slaughtering." Charlie Cox gives Nucky his muscle and connections to a liquor supplier in Season 2 as IRA agent Owen Slater. Slater's main talent is "making people stop", when Nucky's brother Eli (also the AC Sheriff) becomes power hungry and furious. Season 3 looks to be a more violent and openly aggressive, as the classic "Chicago Beer War" begins to unfold, with Stephen Graham's plucky version of Al Capone versus a smart mouthed Dean O'Banion and Nucky's attempt to hold his balance with the most psychotic of New York's mobsters.
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