September 20, 2010

Boardwalk Empire Talkback

My two biggest issues with the show were evident in the ads though after last night's pilot I'm not really sure they are issues exactly.

1. Steve Buscemi is no James Gandolfini and he is no Jon Hamm. I like Buscemi and his directorial debut Trees Lounge, which he is in roughly eighty percent of the time, is easily one of the five best films of 1996. But he seems too broad and uncharismatic to carry an entire television series. (I find his henchman, played by Michael Pitt, considerably more interesting). Then again, I suspect that you could argue that Nucky Thompson isn't Tony Soprano and he isn't Don Draper. The line between politician and gangster is much more diffuse than in something like "The Sopranos". In fact, it might be something that we haven't seen before. I suspect the problem isn't that Buscemi is all wrong, but that he's just giving us something brand new.

2. Set in 1920, the show is a work of science fiction. Highlighted by a sideshow showing off incubators for premature babies and a strangely unfunny vaudville routine, the show has relatively few reference points to guide us through. I was so busy absorbing the alien culture that I found myself missing a lot of signficant plot points. Again, it might not be that it's wrong it might just be that's brand new.

Your thoughts though?

7 comments:

Miss Ada Vice said...

Well the incubators are historically accurate according to this, I thought they were 'warming cupboards' at first...

http://uh.edu/engines/epi2279.htm

I liked it, I think we need to give it time to develop and can'tr judge it form one show. Bets on Nucky getting with the batteredwife?

Anonymous said...

I can't remember where I read it but it may have been House Next Door, a critic boiled down much of Scorsese's work to being comedy of manners set within highly structured environments where ritual means everything - it certainly holds true for Boardwalk Empire as much as it does for his other work. I enjoyed it and definitely agree that with Buscemi's Nucky there's a blurring between gangster and statesman we don't really get to see. I enjoyed the pilot but a few moment, particularly when Thompson looks through the fortune teller's window with a "what does your future hold sign" ad reflecting back at him seemed horribly contrived and obvious.

corym said...

Before the first episode, I also thought Nucky would be a 20's Tony Soprano, but they seem to be going more for a Leo-type from Miller's Crossing. Nucky seems to be successful because of connections--not because he's a calculating gangster. Unfortunately, now that he's dealing more directly with people like Rothstein, Luciano, and Capone, he seems to be a little unprepared. By the end of the episode he's in debt, the Italians have the booze and all he gets is a thin little envelope with money in it. It's interesting to me how far ahead of Nucky everyone seems to be at this point.

corym said...

Btw, they put together a great group of actors for this show. I haven't been this impressed by a cast for a while. Buscemi, Michael Shannon, Shea Wigham, Dabney Coleman, Michael Stuhlberg, Kelly Macdonald, Michael K Williams. What's not to love?

Patrick said...

I am now going to be unfair.

Boardwalk Empire gives us quaint images: oh, quaint little boardwalk shops; quaint women of the temperance movement; quaint racism; quaint antisemitism; quaint sexism – ain't we glad that that's all better now? And how we can have a show that includes all of these, but thankfully as a period piece so all we need to do is have one or two supporting characters bei a woman or black whilst still making a show about pale males and their story – a shame we can't just give them a black housekeeper... no wait, we can probably fit one in.

And yeah, we naturally still get so see a naked female body with quaint pubic hair, and naked breasts during sex, and stupid emotional women locking themselves in the bathroom or wanting their husbands to go to college. And let's not forget little people fighting because man, weren't they backwards back then? And quaint sexist vaudeville jokes, thank God we don't have that anymore. And didn't you just love the part where the woman was beaten up so she lost her baby? Now let's make her fall in love with out hero.

Rick said...

Sorry to go off of the Boardwalk Empire topic, but did anyone catch The Office season premiere? It made my entire week hearing Michael's asshole nephew reference The Boondock Saints as a favorite film.

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