TV SHOW- BOARDWALK EMPIRE
THE BOARDWALK IS BACK
BY NED COFFMAN ON SEPTEMBER 16, 2014
Nominated for eight Golden Globe awards, winning two for Best Television Series and Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series, HBO’s Boardwalk Empire premiered with its fifth and final season on Sept. 7th, 2014. Based on the novel “Boardwalk Empire: The Rise, High Times, and Crookedness of Atlantic City”, the series follows the life of crooked Atlantic City Treasurer Enoch “Nucky” Thompson. Played by Steve Buscemi, the series sees Nucky rise to the peak of American organized crime during the Prohibition Era from 1920 to 1933. Over the timeline of the entire series, Nucky is pitted against rivaling gangsters such as Arnold Rothstein, Charles “Lucky” Luciano and Gyp Rosetti for control over the massively lucrative liquor business. At Nucky’s side is WW1 veteran Jimmy Darmody, played by Michael Pitt, who has recently returned to Atlantic City and seeks a position in Nucky’s organization.
During the events of Season one, Nucky and his gang of political cronies conspire to import illicit liquor from Canada into Atlantic City and deliver it to gangsters such as Arnold Rothstein in New York and Johnny Torrio in Chicago. Having been passed over for an important position in Nucky’s organization, Jimmy seeks to prove himself to Nucky by hijacking his entire delivery of liquor to New York. This leads to a gigantic gang war between Nucky and Rothstein which lasts the entire season and ends with many of Nucky’s followers conspiring against him, setting the stage for Season two.
In Season two, Jimmy and Nucky’s brother, Sheriff Eli Thompson, conspire with Commodore Louis Kaestner to demote Nucky from his position as boss of Atlantic City. Having been indicted for election fixing, Nucky temporarily gives up control of Atlantic City to Jimmy who finds himself financially indebted to his allies in New York, Philadelphia and Chicago. Nucky eventually retakes control of the city by importing illicit liquor from Ireland at a low cost and organizing an African American workers riot on the Boardwalk. Defeated, Jimmy tries to make amends with Nucky by killing the Commodore and arranging Eli’s arrest but is ultimately killed in the season finale by Nucky who finally embraces his gangster lifestyle.
The series then moves on with Season three in which Nucky has to defend himself from Italian gangster Gyp Rosetti, who seeks to establish a foothold in Atlantic City while representing the interests of mafia warlord Giuseppe Masseria. A massive gang war explodes between the two in which Rosetti takes control of a nearby village and uses it to intercept all of Nucky’s liquor deliveries to Rothstein in New York. In the exciting climax of Season three, Rosetti and his men are all killed by Nucky and his followers. Nucky then retreats from society to live a solitary lifestyle on the Boardwalk, setting the atmosphere for Season four.
In Season four, Nucky is pitted against a sadistic Harlem philosopher named Doctor Valentin Narcisse. Season four, to me, was a disappointment. In my opinion, Season four lost all of the series’ original beauty and excitement seen in the last three seasons. Its storyline was uncreative and its characters were weak. I would have liked to have seen Nucky become involved in the 1928 Manhattan Beer Wars between Rothstein and Frank Costello while trying to move his business operations to Florida. That, for me, would have been a more interesting storyline than the one presented in Season four.
Season five however, revived a lot of the beauty and excitement that I felt was missing in Season four. Serving as both a prequel and a sequel to Season four, Season five shows the rise of a young Nucky in 1894 while the older Nucky moves his business operations to Cuba in 1931. Overall, Boardwalk Empire is a phenomenal television series that gives an electrifying portrayal of the Roaring ‘20s and the Golden Age of American organized crime. I would recommend this show to everyone.