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?