Customer Reviews: Boardwalk Empire: Complete First Season (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)
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on September 20, 2010
When HBO first announced the showing of Boardwalk Empire, my calendar became marked with bright red highlighter. Every time I saw an image of actor Steve Buscemi in his dapper 1920's attire (my favorite decade in American history), my anticipation grew. I began to research, realizing that Martin Scorsese and producer Terry Winter (The Sopranos), and I was nearly breathless with anticipation.

What drew me to Boardwalk Empire? It was a combination of items. I love the 1920s. There was a romance to that particular era, evident in the films, the clothing, and the music. America was blossoming from a gawky teenage girl and into the full flower of beauty during that magical era. Much of the growing process involved film, music, gangsters, and Prohibition.

When HBO's BOARDWALK EMPIRE premiered, I was as giddy as a kid on Christmas morning.

Scoresese and Winter didn't let me down. Boardwalk Empire chronicles the life of Enoch (Nucky) Thompson (Steve Buscemi). Nucky Thompson is slick, smooth, and runs the Boardwalk with a suaveness that rivals the cunning of a fox. I don't think Scoresese could have found anyone better than Buscemi to play Thompson, for he's able to emit the perfect persona with his sly, crooked smile and darting eyes. Yes, Buscemi fits my image of a gangster of the era, more realistic than any Hollywood has ever attempted to portray in the past. Buscemi is not a handsome man, instead he has that down home reality to his features that makes him more believable as a human being with every close-up that is filmed. Human is what Nucky Thompson is, aspiring for more on the boardwalk. Nucky is complex in his greed and maneuvering, and all the while revealing the little bit of a compassionate heart that he still has beating within him. This heart is shown in his behavior toward Margaret Schroeder (Kelly MacDonald), a pregnant woman who endures a horrific beating from her drunken husband.

The storyline of Boardwalk Empire leaps from section to section, high paced, filled with action and the underground gangland activity that was so prevalent during the time. There are startling little bits of history that will make any fan of the era and mobster history smile with pleasure. My favorite clip was a war scarred Jimmy Darmody ( Michael Pitt) having a conversation with a very young Al Capone (Stephen Graham), while they waited to drive their bosses about town. (No, Al Capone didn't start out his gangster career as the headman;he started at the bottom).

My overall opinion of Boardwalk Empire--Excellent and stunning. I felt as if I had been drawn into a perfectly portrayed world of the past, from the movements of Prohibition, Women's Suffrage, and into the realm of organized crime. Beautifully written for the screen (adapted from the book by Nelson Johnson, Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City), Boardwalk Empire is a must have in your mobster collection.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon September 28, 2010
The writer of the HBO series, Terence Winter (who also wrote the foreword for this edition of the book), was recently interviewed on public radio and explained how and why the HBO show deviates from many of the facts in the book "Boardwalk Empire." Last names were sometimes changed and certain information had to be imagined or created in order to allow the plot to veer away from the events in the book. Hence, Nucky "Thompson" in the series is actually based on the real life Nucky (Enoch) Johnson

None of this takes away from the entertainment value of the series but potential buyers of the book will get an added perspective and accurate historical detail."Boardwalk Empire" is an excellent way to round out the very entertaining cable television series. If you simply want to watch the show, it recreates Atlantic City in its heyday. Steve Buscemi is riveting in his role as "Nucky" and comes across as a complex person, although when it comes to business he can be harsh and no nonsense. Things go his way or else. Of course, I write this after seeing only the first episodes of the series so it will be interesting to see how his character evolves. There are hints of a romance in the future.

Not surprisingly, Terence Winter (again, writer of the HBO series) also wrote many episodes of The Sopranos and director Martin Scorcese steps to the helm and directs the first and possibly many more episodes of the cable show ( but guest directors aren't uncommon for cable series). In the show, Steve Buscemi plays Nucky but Winter has admitted that James Gandolfini would have fit the actual body type and appearance of Nucky. But because Buscemi captures the essence of Nucky so well it doesn't seem to matter if he looks exactly like the real Nucky.

Nucky Johnson provides what people want, primarily alcohol, gambling and sex. But if the public had wanted other things Nucky would simply have gone with public sentiment. His choices were based on what brought him the most profit -and it was as simple as that, although being in power was not so simple.

Having seen the first episodes of the series, I am able to compare both the book and television show. I'd urge you to buy the book. Both the book and the cable series made me yearn to visit Atlantic City in its prime. Women dressed in their finest outfits before strolling on the actual boardwalk. I'd love to have revisited that time - if only to understand the thrills that drew people to Atlantic City.

Since I've now seen the series, it is impossible to write about the book without comparing it to the film version. I have to admit that the HBO show recreates Atlantic City's mixture of people and often weird attractions, from side shows to palm readers - and it does make a difference seeing and hearing the combination of sights, sounds and dialogue.

There is also a portrayal of the young Al Capone and he comes off as far less confident in his youth. He still takes risks but he hasn't matured into the experienced man whose name became legend.

"Boardwalk Empire" reveals how the area was a place where families came, with children enjoying themselves by day and adults venturing off to enjoy other pursuits at night. You won't get a truly balanced historical take on Atlantic City without reading the book and the series should motivate viewers to want to learn more about the history of Atlantic City's entertainment area.

Reading "Boardwalk Empire" is well worth the time. But if you only want to watch the show you will still get a limitd sense of the sights and sounds of Atlantic City as well as the lure of booze, women and gambling.
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on December 8, 2010
Boardwalk Empire is a great show, the 21st century version of a 19th century novel. It's Dickens, Dostoevsky, Tolstoi. The relationship between Nucky and Margaret is like nothing else on TV. Buscemi was absolutely terrific in the finale. The exploration of criminal culture, and its relationship to political culture, is pretty fascinating. I cannot wait for next season!
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on October 1, 2011
Boardwalk Empire is an exquisitely produced hour long drama on HBO. Some have expressed dislike for the slow storylines and pacing as well as what I've heard described as a weaker season long arc. I personally find the show to be fantastic and the pacing is refreshing and suits the atmosphere being created in 1920's Atlantic City. The Sopranos itself was a slower paced show if one really looks back on it, the deaths come but only at the leisure of the story. The one thing that cannot be contested in regards to this show is the production value, the boardwalk they've created, the sets, the period costumes and the sheer amount of quality casting/acting that fill this universe. The story also spans from Atlantic City to New York and Chicago. It's an amazing feat that they've pulled off at all let alone so well.

This long awaited first season set will thankfully contain not only the twelve first season episodes but a plethora of special featuers that take viewers behind the scenes. I wish the Sopranos had been granted season sets this elaborate, this set might rival the quality of the Breaking Bad season sets, which have themselves always been packed with extras.

The Twelve Episodes Included (Just out of interest):

Boardwalk Empire
The Ivory Tower
Broadway Limited
Nights In Ballygran
Family Limitation
Hold Me in Paradise
Belle Femme
The Emerald City
Paris Green
A Return to Normalcy

An excellently crafted slow burn season that establishes this world and takes some interesting twists, turns and sudden plot developments but only once they've been earned. I don't want to give anything away to those who haven't seen it adn those who have seen it know how well constructed it is.

Special Features:

Exclusive to Blu-ray, Enhanced Viewing: fans will be able to enjoy a picture in picture experience on each episode that delves into the production process with cast and crew and also into the Atlantic City history the show is based on with Historians. (This sounds incredible).

Making Boardwalk Empire: A standard behind-the-scenes look at the making of the series with cast and crew.

Character Dossier: An evolving comprehensive character guide allows viewers to follow development of major players.

Creating the Boardwalk: Explores how they designed and built the massive 300 foot boardwalk.

Atlantic City: The Original Sin City - A 30 minute documentary that explores the roaring 20's in Atlantic City. (Nice to see them also focusing on providing historical material for a series such as this).

Speakeasy Tour: Cast members from the series provide an insider's tour of famed prohibition era speakeasies in Chicago and New York.

Audio Commentaries: Six will be provided featuring different combinations of actors Steve Buscemi, Michael Kenneth Williams and Michael Shannon. Creator/writer/executive producer Terence Winter, Director/Writer/Executive Producer Tim Van Patten, Writer?Supervising Producer Howard Korder and directors Brian Kirk and Allen Coulter.

This is quite the comprehensive set that should please any fan of the series and might interest some historians. I am now beginning to feel the long wait for this release was worth it. Every show should attempt to provide this much supplementry material.

Season 2 is already building up to be fantastic! If this isn't a five star series I don't know what is. Thankfully it seems to be receiving a five star set.
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on July 31, 2015
This series could have done well without the violence and the more than necessary soft porno scenes. Buscemi was great - as usual - and the reason why I kept viewing the series, but after a while enough is enough - and I stopped watching.
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on January 10, 2012
Just picked this up at the store a few hours ago so I haven't had a chance to go through and watch the entire Blu Ray yet, but I had a chance to delve through some of the bonus material as well as the first 2 episodes on the set (rest assured that I have already seen the season in it's entirety on HBO when they had a day long marathon before the second season premiered).

As far as this release goes the only con I have seen is that the season wasn't put out until the second season finished up, but that doesn't affect the product itself, so no stars off.

From what I have seen so far, the picture quality of the show in HD is brilliant and the effects look amazing. Watching the show on HBO even in SD I kept thinking "Why does this look so digital" and a quick trip to the bonus section answered my question.

Anyway onto the show itself: I was reading some of the lower star reviews and noticed that people have said this series is bull and not true to history and stuff and I just need to say, get over it. No historical based films and TV shows are ever 100 percent true to life and that isn't bad, its called taking artistic license and its been done since the days of shakespeare. Look at what was created and judge it for what it is. In my opinion its a briliant show.
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Certainly one of the most eagerly anticipated 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. This brain child of Terrence Winter, a primary creative force and writer for "The Sopranos," adapts 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" recently picked up a Golden Globe for Best Dramatic Program and acting honors for lead Steve Buscemi at both the Globes and the SAG awards. Intended for adult audiences, this is a program whose real pleasures unfold as the season progresses--it has a slow build momentum and a subtlety in plotting and characterizations that might not appeal to more action oriented viewers. But patience is rewarded with a rich and compelling storyline that showcases equal parts politics and mob drama.

Buscemi plays Nucky Thompson, the most pivotal power player of this corrupt political empire. The charming Thompson rules Atlantic City as if he were its king! Set in the prohibition era, Thompson plays both the peacemaker and the enforcer--but in this turbulent time, keeping a tight grip on the city proves to pose some dangerous challenges. Backed by his muscle (Michael Pitt), pursued doggedly by a federal agent (Michael Shannon), and tentatively romancing a recent widow (Kelly Macdonald)--Buscemi does not play Thompson as a one dimensional villain, but instead as a multi-layered businessman. Within this fictional backdrop (yes, I know Thompson was a real person), other notorious real life personages populate the cast such as Al Capone and Lucky Luciano. This is a startlingly realistic portrait of the outlaw days of prohibition!

In addition to Buscemi's fine work, the cast is uniformly excellent. At first, I thought Pitt a bit passive in the role of a henchman but his independence and intelligence start to emerge until he becomes more of an equal and less of an underling. Macdonald, as well, starts as a fairly tentative character but she experiences the story's most compelling transformation. At first she is seduced by the Thompson's clout, than complicit, than free to experience a newfound power of her own. Shannon is creepy menace in what could have been the show's most conventionally good character. But I also really liked Gretchen Mol (Pitt's mother although in real life she is only 9 years his senior), Shea Wigham (Buscemi's brother), Vincent Piazza (Lucky Luciano) and Jack Huston (as a disfigured vet who befriends Pitt). But really, all the supporting roles are played with verve and I could easily have listed an additional four or five actors that stand out.

In some ways, On-demand or DVD is the perfect venue to catch "Boardwalk Empire" where you can allow the story to flow at your own rate. Intelligent and challenging, this isn't a slam bang gangster melodrama. It is a character driven piece occupied by perhaps the most morally ambiguous cast of characters ever assembled for a television program. No one is unscathed in this period saga! At this juncture, it is also noteworthy to include that the production values really do recreate an era gone by. Gorgeous to look at and authentically believable, this is smart and sophisticated entertainment! KGHarris, 2/11.
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on January 23, 2015
Thus far, this is an excellent series. I had heard of it before and even watched an episode or two on HBO. However, I had no idea what was going on in the story. It is that type of series, but I love that type since the longer you watch, the more rewarded you feel.

I have always been a fan of the gangster story and this one fits quite nicely. It is 1920 and prohibition has just been passed. Steve Buscemi(always reliable in anything) plays Nucky Thompson, the treasurer of Atlantic City. The new law only provides him and his cohorts with the ability to charge more for precious liquor which will be all on the black market now. As you can imagine, chaos ensues from the sides of the law as well as criminal enemies.

Oh this is very much a history lesson as well. Nucky Thompson was a real gangster in the 1920s which boggles my mind since I had never heard about him. Also on the cast of mugs is a young Al Capone, Myer Lansky, Charlie "Lucky" Luciano and Arnold Rothstein. There is a black crime boss named Chalky White, but I found out he was based on the boxer Albert "Chalky" Wright. But let me tell you. White like all the characters on here, has many layers and is always fun to watch.

As for the time period, I think I prefer the 1940s to the 1920s. However, the era is the perfect backdrop for this show. It's almost like watching New Jersey about a hundred years before the Sopranos took it over. While much has changed, the rackets were always there. The acting is all spot on and these characters will get a reaction out of you either way. I am hooked and will definitely order the rest of the seasons!
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on April 13, 2012
NOTE: I was wondering why this show didn't have a five-star, because of faulty DVDs.

I bought my set for $40 and bought it on a fling that Steve Buscemi was the main character in it, and from the very first episode I was thrown into Atlantic City. This has to be the best show I have ever watched next to Dexter. The 1920's atmosphere is very apparent and the show doesn't force this atmosphere on you. ALL the characters are dynamic in their own way. Noche (Steve) Thompson being the kind-hearted, yet dark aperture of crime in Atlantic City. His character is the most intriguing next to Jimmy, a young man returning mentally and physically scarred from France during The First World War. Al Capone makes more than a cameo as joking lackey of the Chicago gang (forgot name, if there was one). More and more and more characters that you'd expect from a big budget HBO series... Every episode of the 12 (730 minutes, 12 hours, 2 min intro, 2 min credits) are just as memorable as the last and plots and story lines twists together on the show's road to its series finale. It kind of copies Godfather (Part I) in its series finale and it's very satisfying, and kind of makes sense with Martin Scorsese as one of the producers...

I bought the blu-ray set. If you buy the DVD's, fine. If you have a large HD television and you buy the DVD, you need to stop wasting money. This is one of the best looking Blu-rays I have ever watched (compared to Avatar, Terminator: Salvation, and [American] Girl With The Dragon Tattoo). The color on their suites are defined in ways only demos in the department stores can make them shine. A bright and inviting presentation that can leave you immersed in the grittiness of the portrayed Atlantic City. Can't really comment on sound to give audiophiles are well deserved review on it, but I listened to it on high volumes at times (5.1 Dolby Surround Sound) and the ambient noise of the 1920's was as apparent and satisfying, I recommend high volume play. What do you expect, it's top notch.

If you like any gangster movie, get this one! Politics were the first gangsters, and Noche Thompson sits high on the list.
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on March 25, 2012
I am a huge Steve Buscemi fan and to be honest when Boardwalk Empire came out I hesitated to see it because my impression of Buscemi was really formed around Resevoir Dogs and Fargo where he is portrayed almsot always as a crazy, go-lucky, weirdo, maniac type guy. Boardwalk Empire really blew me away with how Buscemi has changed and has fit into a totally different character. In this first season of the series, Buscemi plays "Nuci" Thompson who is the Treasurer of Atlantic City in name but really runs everything including booze and girls. You see so many different sides of Thompson in this first season as there are days where he is caring and giving to widows and those in need of help and others times where he will shoot someone without thinkign twice. The season gives you a great look into early 1900s Atlantic City and the corruption both there and in other big cities like New York and Chicago. HBO does a great job portraying the lives of real characters of the time including Al Capone and others. Overall a really good series that is a must-see and in particular for Buscemi fans.
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