Boardwalk Empire

Season 1 Episode 1

Boardwalk Empire

12
Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Sep 19, 2010 on HBO
8.3
out of 10
User Rating
447 votes
6

EPISODE REVIEWS
By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

EDIT

On the eve of Prohibition, January, 1920. Nucky Thompson, Atlantic City's Treasurer, condemns alcohol at a Temperance League meeting for women, however, behind closed doors he is telling his ward bosses about the huge amounts of cash they could get selling bootleg liquor. 

Who was the Episode MVP ?

Monday
No results found.
Tuesday
No results found.
Wednesday
No results found.
SUBMIT REVIEW
  • About this episode

    10
    It had wonderful makeup, single-camera picture editing, visual effects, art direction, sound editing and directing without sex scenes.
  • Period piece

    8.0
    This series is an interesting period piece, full of wonderful details and insights into past. Production values are also looking really good.



    The problem is with the cast (though not with the actors!) These people just are not very likeable, or interesting.

  • 101

    6.0
    Boardwalk Empire is the latest show for HBO to premiere and to be honest, it just did not do it for me. There were definitely sparks of brilliance at times, but the key word there is sparks. The show was never consistently good, even the action, climatic scenes had points where the viewer was asking themselves, "Why show this?" Boardwalk Empire is an all too familiar show about it, it is like Mad Men, with violence thrown in. The problem though? Steve Buscemi is not Jon Hamm, and writer Terence Winter is not Matt Weiner. I am on the fence about watching this show again. While there were definitely some parts I liked, for a pilot that cost 19 million to make, it did not do a good job of sucking me in.moreless
  • Mix: Great cast, stellar production values, former Sopranos writer, Martin Scorsese. Shake and Pour. Result: Underwhelming. Confused? Me too.

    6.0
    The critics have been falling all over themselves to praise this show, but on the strength of the first episode alone I'm rather confused as to why. The production design is impeccable but lacks personality and allure. All of the characters are archetypes with nothing unique or outstanding to recommend them against similar characters in better productions. Scorsese's direction was much like his other work over the past decade or so: a decent second rate impersonation of Martin Scorsese. The script is expertly built but humorless and uninspiring. The "conflicted" protagonist is only mildly interesting and by the end of the episode I didn't care all that much to see what happens to him next. Even as a history lesson it's only lukewarm. The scene where they explain how the bootlegged whiskey is diluted and altered to maximize profits is interesting, but other than that it's like "The Tudors" of the Prohibition era - gratuitous sleaze and lots of winking affectation every time a famous historical figure pops on screen (like the tendentious way the other driver introduces himself to Jimmy Darmody as "Al Capone" at the end of their conversation, as if it's the punchline the audience was being set up for). The best I can say about this first episode is that it is handsomely produced with decent entertainment value; definitely not the masterpiece that everyone and their mother is inexplicably claiming it to be. If not for the high level of talent involved I wouldn't consider giving the second episode a shot, but I suppose I'll check back in to see if it improves next week.moreless
  • Great acting, writing, directing and just a great vibe overall.

    9.1
    One of the problems with television, at least in my eyes, is the fixation on procedurals, traditional sitcoms and reality shows. Procedurals have lost all appeal to me, whether it's NCIS, Criminal Minds, CSI or any Law and Order spinoff. Traditional sitcom comedies, with laugh tracks, should be dead by now and somehow live on with The Big Bang Theory, Mike and Molly, Two and a Half Men and other half-assed attempts at laughs. And reality shows are self-explanatory.



    It's nice when television shows such as "The Sopranos," "Mad Men" or "Breaking Bad" are able to step in and bring a sort of cinematic feel to the small screen. Sure, the ratings may not be superb for some of these shows, but the quality speaks for itself. "Boardwalk Empire" is HBO's new drama that seems likely to follow the same path as "The Sopranos": an complex network of characters with different motives, slow-burning plots that take time to build up and bursts of violence. To some, this is different than the non-stop action found on CBS procedural shows and whatnot, but here, it's the show's acting, writing and directing that pulls you in. The Prohibition era is a topic uncovered (or barely uncovered) in television, which makes the show able to cover storylines that feel fresh and interesting.



    The pilot is mainly set-up, introducing characters to us so fast we barely can keep track. The main characters seem to be Nucky Thompson and his former protege, Jimmy Durmody (played by Steve Buscemi and Michael Pitt respectively). Nucky is the treasurer of Atlantic City and presents two faces to the city: the alcohol-hating man who visits temperance meetings and speaks out against liquor and the half-gangster who is attempting to make money off of Prohibition. Steve Buscemi takes a hold of the role, playing the role fervently and with great energy. You can bet next year that there'll be at least a nomination for him. With the help of his brother, Durmody and dozens of other men, he attempts to bring alcohol to one of America's busiest towns.



    Many people will not like the show's slower pace. There's action scenes, sure, but not long, drawn-out gun-fights. There's quick bursts of violence followed by slow tension building. Scorsese is a master of cinema, and his eye for cinematic direction is evident here. Bits and pieces of "Gangs of New York" and "Goodfellas" is evident as we're introduced to the Boardwalk and the different stores of Atlantic City, and each character seems to have a background that will likely be fleshed out as the show goes on.



    As of right now, we're inclined to side with Nucky and Michael, both men who are (as Durmody mentions near the end) "half-gangsters." Nucky is a treasurer as well as a man profiting off of Prohibition, while Durmody is a WW1 veteran who is looking to get back into business with Nucky. Together, these two lead a cast that ranges from Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road) as a police officer tracking down people who go against Prohibition to Kelly MacDonald as a battered wife named Margeret Schroder who forms a bond with Nucky Thompson.



    I've already heard some people saying they cannot get into it, but it makes me wonder how a show as wonderfully filmed and acted as this can be passed over and described as dull when there's shows out there (NCIS, CSI) that are spewing out the same plots with different characters every week. There's a reason why shows sometimes pass up action and violence for slow simmering tension (just look at "Mad Men" or "Breaking Bad") "Boardwalk Empire" is intense, interesting and seems to be headed down a similar path as "The Sopranos." I'm already hooked, and hopefully the ratings reflect the show's quality.moreless
Steve Buscemi

Steve Buscemi

Nucky Thompson

Michael Pitt

Michael Pitt

James "Jimmy" Darmody

Kelly Macdonald

Kelly Macdonald

Margaret Schroeder

Michael Shannon

Michael Shannon

Agent Nelson Van Alden

Shea Whigham

Shea Whigham

Elias "Eli" Thompson

Aleksa Palladino

Aleksa Palladino

Angela Darmody

Dana Ivey

Dana Ivey

Mrs. McGarry

Guest Star

Frank Crudele

Frank Crudele

Big Jim Colisomo

Guest Star

Jordan Gelber

Jordan Gelber

Simon

Guest Star

Dabney Coleman

Dabney Coleman

Commodore Louis Kaestner

Recurring Role

Paz de la Huerta

Paz de la Huerta

Lucy Danziger

Recurring Role

Erik Weiner

Erik Weiner

Agent Sebso

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (2)

    • In the scene in which Jimmy Darmody is speaking to his wife about his future career chances he refers to their son as Skeezix, a character in "Gasoline Alley", a popular comic strip at the time. The script writers have taken obvious liberties with historical continuity here as Skeezix did not show up until St. Valentine's Day 1921- almost 13 months after the events that take place in the storyline.

    • The Welcome to Hammonton, NJ sign during the Robbery in the woods scene, is way before its time. "Blueberry Capital of the World" was a nickname popularized by President Ronald Regan during his 1984 campaign visit to Hammonton, NJ, some 60 years after the period this is set. Also, The Blueberry was not Commercially Cultivated until 1916, only four years prior to this show, meaning the Blueberry wasn't that commercially popular by 1920.

  • QUOTES (9)

    • Mrs. McGarry: Coward, monster, vicious brute. Friend to thief and prostitute conscious dulled by demon rum. Liquor, thy name's delirium.

    • Margaret: I'd be honored to name my child after you.
      Nucky: Enoch? You couldn't possibly be so cruel.

    • Jimmy: You can't be half a gangster Nucky, not anymore.

    • Nucky: A rose by any other name...
      Mickey Doyle: What's that supposed to mean?
      Nucky: Read a fucking book.

    • At a midgets boxing fight.
      Jimmy Darmody: (to Al Capone) If I was you I'd bet on the little guy.

    • Jimmy Darmody: Nucky, all I want is an opportunity.
      Nucky Thompson: This is America, ain't it? Who the fuck's stopping you?

    • William McCoy: And he took the loaves and fishes, looked at his disciples and said, 'Fuck it. We're going into the whiskey business'.

    • Nucky Thompson: Rest assured that dry though the country may be, I am in the midst of concluding arrangements that will keep Atlantic City wet as a mermaid's twat.
      Mayor Harry Bacharach: Jeez, Nucky, you're fucking mermaids now?
      Nucky Thompson: Every vote counts, Mr. Mayor.

    • Jimmy Darmody: In the trenches once we ate dog meat. But rats?
      Nucky Thompson: First rule of politics, kiddo. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

  • NOTES (5)

    • Audience - 4,810,000

    • The Pilot won 6 Emmy Awards for Outstanding Art Direction for a Single-Camera Series, Outstanding Makeup for a Single-Camera Series (Non-Prosthetic), Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series, Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series, Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series and Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series - Martin Scorsese.

    • Original International Air Dates:
      Czech Republic: January 10, 2011 on HBO
      United Kingdom: February 1, 2011 on Sky ATLANTIC/Sky ATLANTIC HD

    • Featured Music:
      "Straight Up and Down" by The Brian Jonestown Massacre
      "So Long Oo Long (How Long you Gonna be Gone?)" by Seabreeze Park Wurlitzer Band Organ
      "Battle Hymn of the Republic/Livery Stable Blues/Taps/Tiger Raps" by Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks
      "Fascination" by Craig Duncan
      "Tenting in the Old Campground" by Seabreeze Park Wurlitzer Band Organ
      "Some of These Days" by Sophie Tucker
      "String Quartet No. 5 in F Minor" by Boardwalk Empire String Quartet
      "By the Waters of Minnetonka" by Zez Confrey

    • The pilot of Boardwalk Empire alone is reported to have cost $18 million to produce.

  • ALLUSIONS (5)

    • Agent Sebso: So, the red tie...that's Big Jim?
      Agent Van Alden: Does that man look big to you? It's Arnold Rothstein.

      Arnold Rothstein, also nicknamed "The Brain", was the kingpin of the New York Jewish underworld in the 1920s and is considered by some to be the father of American organized crime.

    • Agent Van Alden: I got a bead on Rothstein. He came in with Luciano.

      "Lucky" Luciano, US gangster and racketeer, emigrated with his family to the US in 1906. He became one of the most powerful figures in organized crime in the 1930s and was arrested 25 times between 1919 and 1936 but convicted only once.

    • Agent Van Alden: Got 'em. January 16th 08:03 p.m., Johnny Torrio meeting with Nucky Thompson.

      Johnny Torrio was the right-hand man of Jim Colosimo, who was an organized crime figure credited with launching the Chicago Mob. He is also believed to have brought Al Capone with him to Chicago to aid Colosimo on his way to the top of organized crime in the early 1920s.

    • Jimmy: Hey, nice talking to you...
      Alphonse: You too.
      Jimmy: Jimmy Darmody.
      Alphonse: Al Capone.

      Al Capone, an infamous Chicago gangster, was involved in many illegal activities from the early 1920s to 1931, including the smuggling and bootlegging of liquor.

    • Nucky: Bill McCoy, as I live and breathe.

      William McCoy was a rum-runner in the prohibition era known for not watering down his liquor and a lot of people believe that this is where "the Real McCoy" term came from.

More
Less