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HBO Renews ‘Boardwalk Empire’ for Fourth Season: Why?

HBO Renews 'Boardwalk Empire' for Fourth Season: Why?

Judging from the first four episodes of “Boardwalk Empire” Season Three, I cannot commend HBO for renewing the series for a fourth season. HBO is looking at the fact that the first two episodes of its third season averaged 2.5 million viewers, somewhat down from the Season Two finale of 3 million. Last week the show won three Emmys, down from Season One’s eight; exec producer Tim Van Patten won for directing.

I was a loyal watcher for the first two seasons, but so far Season Three is a long slow slog. Bobby Cannavale as a ruthless Italian thug with a hair-trigger (much like Joe Pesci in “Wise Guys” “Goodfellas”) is laboring to keep things interesting. I miss Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt) and his lesbian artist wife (Alleksa Palladino), who were both killed off at the end of Season Two. The characters left from that story arc, his prostitute mother (Gretchen Moll) and fellow war veteran Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) haven’t been given much to do, although they hold promise.

Part of the problem is that Steve Buscemi’s Nucky Thompson is depressed and increasingly estranged from his wily do-gooder wife (Kelly Macdonald), and ex-FBI man Michael Shannon is also emasculated and laid low–for the moment. More Michael Stuhlbarg and Michael K. Williams, please!

Let’s hope that the show, created by Terence Winter, who exec produces with Martin Scorsese, Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson and Van Patten, picks up some momentum and drama. HBO must have reason to believe there is life left in it.

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I agree. Boardwalk Empire was one of my very favorite shows and I'd never miss one, but when it premiered this last season, I couldn't believe how boring it was. What happened?

Edward Copeland

The problem is that they basically blew up their own show in the final moments of last season so that now very few of the characters resemble who they used to be. More importantly, what made the show unique — its E.L. Doctorow-like mix of gangsters, politics and history — has more or less been abandoned for all-out gangsterism, losing its sense of humor as a result. The best laugh so far has been when Eli got out of jail and asked Mickey Doyle why he isn't dead yet — and why isn't he? The only character who still acts the same as he did before is Michael Kenneth Williams' Chalky White. We're supposed to believe that it took Richard more than a year to get revenge on Manny for killing Angela? Richard was suicidal as it was, but with the only two people he cared about gone, it's a stretch to keep him on the canvas. Nucky had to punish Jimmy for his role in the plot against him, even after he engineered all the other ward bosses recanting their testimony and killed Neary but he took no vengeance on Paddy Ryan and those other bosses that we saw? I wish they'd make a spinoff solely about Arnold Rothstein so we could just watch Michael Stuhlbarg. HBO has invested too much in Boardwalk Empire so they felt compelled to renew it but then they screw Treme with its cheapskate final season that truncates its finish and costs behind-the-scenes people their jobs as a result. Let's stick it to the New Orleans economy again — we've already built these expense Atlantic City sets. It's just like they short-changed the last season of The Wire, didn't give Deadwood its final two seasons or those two two-hour movies that were promised. Then there was Luck, which they tried to pass off as a victim of the unfortunate deaths of three horses, deaths that happen at race tracks every day, when the real story is they didn't have the guts to either buy out Michael Mann or David Milch so one of them ran the show to end the tension. (My vote would have been for keeping Milch.)

Joel W.

I have never fallen (or, more accurately, sprung up) out of my chair the way I did at the end of season two. I'm willing to watch loyally at least through the end of Season 3, just out of respect for what they've done so far though. We all miss Jimmy's sexy swagger though.


Did you not watch The Sopranos? Sometimes shows like these need to give themselves three or four episodes to rebound from huge revelations at the end of the previous season. Boardwalk will be great again it just has to setup the storylines for this and following years. Relax, it'll speed up and get better as the season continues


The show is just not the same without Michael Pitt.

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