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Boardwalk Empire: Season 1

4.6 out of 5 stars 9,957 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

From Terence Winter (Emmy®-winning writer on HBO's The Sopranos) and Oscar®-winning director Martin Scorsese, Boardwalk Empire is set in Atlantic City in 1920 at the dawn of Prohibition. The series chronicles the life and times of Enoch Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi), the city treasurer whose double role as politician and bootlegger makes him the city's undisputed czar at a time when illegal alcohol has opened up highly lucrative opportunities for rumrunners and distributors. In a city defined by notorious backroom politics and vicious power struggles, Nucky must contend with ambitious underlings, relentless Feds, rival gangsters -- including Arnold Rothstein, Lucky Luciano and Al Capone -- and his own appetite for women, profits, and power.


In fine (and bloody) style, HBO's Boardwalk Empire returns to 1920 when the ban on booze led to a syndicate of bootleggers and smugglers. Created by Sopranos scribe Terence Winter and coproduced by director Martin Scorsese, the story centers on Atlantic City treasurer Enoch "Nucky" Thompson (Steve Buscemi), who schemes in private while preaching temperance in public (Mark Wahlberg and Tim Van Patten also serve as producers). Jimmy (Michael Pitt, Buscemi's Delirious costar), a war veteran, acts as his right-hand man, while zealous Agent Van Alden (Michael Shannon) and refined mobster Arnold Rothstein (A Serious Man's Michael Stuhlbarg) represent significant threats to his enterprise.

Nucky's other associates include his sheriff brother Eli (Shea Whigham), sexpot girlfriend Lucy (Paz de la Huerta), and distributor Chalky (The Wire's Michael K. Williams). If Nucky has little regard for law and order, his soft side emerges in his dealings with Irish immigrant Margaret (Kelly Macdonald, excellent), who segues from abused wife to kept woman. As Nucky puts it, "I try to be good. I really do." After he sends Jimmy away a spell, his sidekick joins forces with Al Capone (Stephen Graham, Public Enemies) and disfigured vet Richard Harrow (Jack Huston), abandoning his son, common-law wife Angela (Aleksa Palladino), and mother Gillian (Gretchen Mol), who has a fling with Lucky Luciano (Vincent Piazza).

Inspired by Nelson Johnson's book, Boardwalk Empire takes a Deadwood-like approach to history by combining characters both factual and fictional with blue language and ladies without brassieres. Winter, who won an Emmy for The Sopranos episode Pine Barrens, takes liberties with the historical record, but the series never claims to represent the truth and nothing but--which is only fitting when everyone's hiding secrets. If the entire ensemble deserves praise, Buscemi rules the show as thoroughly as Nucky rules the city. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Special Features

Making of Boardwalk Empire
"Atlantic City: The Original Sin City"
Speakeasy Tour
6 Audio Commentaries with cast and crew
"Creating The Boardwalk"
Character Dossier-evolving character guide

Product Details

  • Actors: Steve Buscemi, Michael Pitt, William Hill
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Box set, Color, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English, Spanish, French
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: HBO Studios
  • DVD Release Date: January 10, 2012
  • Run Time: 733 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9,957 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003Y5HWJU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,925 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Boardwalk Empire: Season 1" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
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.
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Format: DVD
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.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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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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.
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