This weeks recommendation is a little late- as I was hoping to get my hands on the UK WWE Network for a trial, but due its postponement that’s not happening. However this week, im now going with an amazing show that has recently finished its run on television and was a true pleasure from beginning to end- Boardwalk Empire
This show has recently finished, in the last few weeks, but has been an amazing show from beginning to end in every aspect from character development, progressive story telling and action. For those who aren’t familiar with the show here is a basic synopsis:
‘Boardwalk Empire is a period drama focusing on Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (based on the historical Enoch L. Johnson), a political figure who rose to prominence and controlled Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the Prohibition period of the 1920s and 1930s. Nucky acts with historical characters in both his personal and political life, including mobsters, politicians, government agents, and the common folk who look up to him. The federal government also takes an interest in the bootlegging and other illegal activities in the area, sending agents to investigate possible mob connections but also looking at Nucky’s lifestyle—expensive and lavish for a county political figure. The final season jumps ahead seven years, to 1931, as Prohibition nears its end.’
The show was orignal directed by Martn Scorsese- and its evident in every single shot that you get to see. It just has that slow-moving pace to the camera changes and the heavy focus on the characters faces and emotions within the piece- even highlighting the subtle body language changes on the more distant shots. This is the style that the entire show has kept even post Scorsese on the camera, as he stayed on board as an executive producer. And it has to be said that the usage of camera angles within this show is brilliant and really helps build the suspense and tension- add to that the usage of light to help highlight the colours in each scene from the amazingly bright Casino’s and Restaurant/Caberet house to the dingy back waters of the outer towns and this show has a very impressive visual feel that really draws you in.
Even the action scenes are shot superbly, as they allow to fully witness everything that’s happening both with the fighting, bullet’s flying and most importantly the characters and their responses and reactions to this. Nothing is missing- each and every characters emotions are caught at the right moment to make you truly believe that everything matters and has lasting repercussions for everyone involved. The show may be short on the big action sequences, but when they occur it’s a true spectacle of both how to build up to action and how this type of scene should be shot and filmed within television.
The biggest success of this show however is the characterisation that takes place from the very beginning as everyone who graces the screen for longer enough to not be considered an ‘extra’ gets a full individual personality and feels integral to where the story may be going and is going to play a role in the changing landscape of either the season, the show or a character. Steve Buscemi was the right casting choice for the lead role, as not only does he bring in a recognisable name but he really brings a fully engrossing and engaging performance to the show- each and every scene with him in it’s a complete must watch. However it’s not only the character of Nucky that feels like the star of the show, there are other major characters like ‘Chalky White,’ ‘Arnold Rothstein,’ ‘Al Capone,’ and ‘Eli Thompson’ to name a few that really feel like the show without them wouldn’t be half as engaging and the story wouldn’t be as satisfying.
The story is truly a character piece, and this shows as every character that is shown throughout the series gets a truly complete story as we get to see their evolution and the ending (im not giving spoilers here) but everything that ends is satisfying if not bitter-sweet in some senses and this is a real rarity for a long running show in this day and age. However its this attention to detail and this kind of story telling that make the show, everything has a beginning a fully engrossing tale along the way its ultimate end- and this journey is a real ride.
I can’t recommend this show enough- I was truly sad to see it end as its place within my viewing schedule is going to be very hard to fill with any other show that delivers this kind of quality and entertainment.