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MATT ZOLLER SEITZ: The plot-crazy spectacle of BOARDWALK EMPIRE

MATT ZOLLER SEITZ: The plot-crazy spectacle of BOARDWALK EMPIRE

In season two, HBO’s Prohibition-era drama has enlarged its scope but still hasn’t found its reason for being

By Matt Zoller Seitz
Press Play Contributor

Almost every time an episode of Boardwalk Empire ends, I feel slightly disappointed — not because the hour wasn’t entertaining, but because it failed to deliver the richness, depth and ambition of the great series that obviously influenced it, chiefly The Sopranos and Deadwood. This is not the least bit fair, I realize, but feelings are feelings. But then the next episode comes on and I’m giddy with anticipation again. Why? Boundless naivete? An unreasonable faith in the creative powers of series creator Terence Winter, one of the secondary architects of The Sopranos?

I don’t know — but I’m starting to think maybe it’s that terrifically minimalist opening credits sequence, with Atlantic City treasurer Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) staring out at the ocean and coolly smoking a cigarette, watching the tide roll in bearing thousands of illicit bottles, then turning and walking back toward the boardwalk, his shoes and trouser legs miraculously dry again. The music — “Straight Up and Down,” by Brian Jonestown Massacre — sounds like the middle section of the greatest single the Rolling Stones never recorded, which of course subconsciously links the “Boardwalk” credits to the oeuvre of executive producer and pilot director Martin Scorsese, and then again to The Sopranos, which specialized in touches that were Scorsesean yet somehow didn’t flagrantly rip off Scorsese.

You can read the rest of Matt’s piece here at Salon.

A critic, journalist and filmmaker, Matt Zoller Seitz is the staff TV columnist for and the founder of Press Play.

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