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Boardwalk Empire Redux

Boardwalk Empire Redux

Summer is over and we return to Atlantic City by way of Boardwalk Empire, now in its third season. Either my life is getting duller or this show is getting better with each passing year, as I’ve been anxiously awaiting its return. It’s the Roaring ‘20s and anything goes as the viewer asks: “Will Nucky stay with Margaret?”  “Which characters will survive to see Season Four?” and “Just how much violence they can get away with?”

If you haven’t followed the series, you may be at a loss to understand all the plots and subplots. There is little exposition other than to say who was killed off last season, so catching up on Seasons One and Two is pretty much a necessity.

It’s New Year’s Eve, 1922. Enoch “Nucky” Thompson and company have their own agendas and good luck to anyone who gets in their way. Three new characters have been added to the series: Billie Kent (Meg Chambers Steedle) as Nucky’s new mistress, Gaston Means (Stephen Root) as the money man go-between, and Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale), a terrifyingly smart mob guy.

I’ve finally gotten used to Steve Buscemi as Nucky. It took me a season and half to accept this wonderful character actor (so adept at playing weird guys and losers) as the highly respected and feared boss. At this point in his career Nucky wants the public to think of him as a prominent, upstanding citizen who leaves the bootlegging to the bootleggers. This does not preclude him from getting his cut of everything that happens in Atlantic City. His marriage to Margaret (Kelly Macdonald) is not going well and it’s no surprise that he already has a new mistress.

On top of that, Nucky’s brother, Elias (Shea Whigham), is out of prison and looking for work to support his large family. Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon) is now a former federal agent also searching for new forms of income. Since the Commodore and Jimmy Darmody were offed at the end of the season, Gillian (Gretchen Mol) has begun a high class “escort” service in the old mansion. All the players (Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, Arnold Rothstein, etc.) are back to make us glad they’re long dead.

This handsome looking show is brought to life by talented actors, elaborate computer- generated graphics, and wonderful music that’s great fun to hear. It’s a prestige production from a team that includes Emmy-winning writer Terence Winter and directors Martin Scorsese and Tim Van Patten.

Michael Shannon’s character is a personal favorite of mine and I can’t wait to see what the writers have in store for him. Boardwalk Empire returns with 12 episodes beginning Sunday, September 16th on HBO.

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I think it's the way this show presents itself (acting, the set pieces and music) that keeps me watching it. I do wish there was more to make 'Boardwalk Empire' stand out from the usual, amoral drama that seems to be popping up all over TV (especially HBO, Showtime and AMC). I like this show a lot I just wish it didn't feel so familiar.

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