'Boardwalk Empire': Did it live up to the reviews?
"Boardwalk Empire," the Martin Scorsese-produced HBO drama about a complex web of criminal behavior in Prohibition-era Atlantic City, debuted last night and has already emerged as must-discuss TV.
A multitude of TV critics -- including the Post's own Hank Stuever -- had already trumpeted "Boardwalk Empire" as an example of epic, grand-scale television of the finest order.
And as promised, last night's premiere episode boasted rich sets, a sense of cinematic scope (thanks to direction by the great, aforementioned Scorsese) and numerous convincing performances, particularly from Steve Buscemi as the Big Boss of a bygone Atlantic City, Nucky Thompson. (BTW, want to know about the real Nucky? Check out this blog post.)
But unlike The Hollywood Reporter's James Hibberd, I'm not head over heels in love just yet.
As beautifully crafted as "Boardwalk Empire's" first episode was, it dragged a bit in spots. And so far, I can't say I feel an emotional connection to any of the characters. Granted, it's tough to develop a sense of loyalty to any fictional figure after just one episode. Nevertheless, I felt a little relieved to flip over to "Mad Men" and -- SPOILER ALERT -- find myself both amused and moved when Miss Blankenship keeled over at her desk. (And how sweet was Roger's pseudo-eulogy? "She died like she lived -- surrounded by the people she answered phones for.")
Anyway, apparently I am not the only one who admired "Empire" but felt emotionally lukewarm about the show.
Although some viewers were calling the pilot "crazy-good" on Twitter, others weren't so sure. ("Am I the only one who thought the Boardwalk Empire premiere was kind of meh?" asked a tweeter dubbed MissTerio.)
In his review, Stuever tempered his overall enthusiasm by noting that the show does "suffer in patches": "The first six episodes (which I've watched, dutifully at times) draw you in but sometimes feel overstuffed, overproduced and weirdly gauzy where the series means to be an exercise in crisp, razor-sharp filmmaking."
And Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker says that the pilot "is probably the least typical (the showiest, the slowest) of the episodes I’ve seen. The production becomes more sleek, emotionally complex, and sly in its subsequent hours."
So perhaps "Boardwalk Empire" will liven up a bit -- and make viewers feel more invested -- as the show unfolds. Even if I may have been a *teensy* bit disappointed in light of all the pre-premiere hype, this much is still true. Between the two current, most well-known TV Jersey shores -- the spraytanned, Hookup Land inhabited by Snooki, and the corrupt, early 1920s CGI-seaside town where Buscemi, Gretchen Mol and Michael Pitt reside -- I'll go "Boardwalk Empire" every time.
Did you watch the premiere? What did you think? Share your reaction by posting a comment.
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| September 20, 2010; 2:02 PM ET
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