So, Sunday night saw the premier of the collaboration between Martin Scorsese and Terrence Winner (an award winning writer for his work on the Sopranos). And it was good.
It was very good.
To be honest, I am not drawn to the early 20th century culture as a storytelling element. Usually, that is a setting that I can do with or without. But setting this mobster drama at the birth of Prohibition? Perfect choice. The Atlantic City Boardwalk of the 20’s has all the flash and style to lure you in-but a grim and gritty underbelly hidden away.
We are introduced to Nucky Thompson(Steve Buscemi, clearly relishing his role) giving a speech to the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. He tells a moving story about how alcohol destroyed his family. As his “assistant” Jimmy (Michael Pitt) brings him to his car, Nucky steals a drink and admits the story was a lie. Nucky is the city treasurer and has his hands in all things illegal and legal. He’s walked a fine line that Jimmy is challenging him. Jimmy makes it clear, there is no being a “part time gangster”. The sheriff is family and does Nucky’s bidding. But there are wrinkles, as Agent Alden (Michael Shannon) enters the picture.
The cast is phenomenal, the story is compelling…it was definitely a good watch. It’s a great bit of direction by Scorsese and Winter’s writing is mostly strong. A few moments of dialog may fall into obvious exposition, but nothing that so detracts that you feel the need to defend the show’s shortcomings for what it could become. This was top notch.
I got everything I expected from the creators and the promos. And the worst I can say is that it was fully satisfying and worthwhile…it met expectations. But it did not do anything new. It’s a Scorsese Gangster story…and a damn good one. I totally recommend Boardwalk Empire, and hey, a good work from Marty is worth watching. But there is no moment of unexpected turns. It’s not a new take on gangsters. But it’s a solid take and worth following. (So far…I mean, it was the first episode)