Boardwalk Empire: The Complete First Season Blu-ray review

            The newest HBO gangster drama, “Boardwalk Empire,” opens with the beginning of Prohibition. Taking place in Atlantic City during prohibition 1920s, this is an expertly constructed series with more attention to detail and historical accuracy than seems possible. The level of quality even seems to exceed that of the average motion picture at times, and it comes as no surprise that Martin Scorsese is attached to this project when the 300-foot Boardwalk set is revealed. The acclaimed director even lends his expert services to the directing of the pilot episode. At times this episode feels a bit like a period prelude to Goodfellas.

            Created by Emmy-winning writer Terrance Winter, “Boardwalk Empire” has a familiar rhythm to it, not unlike “The Sopranos.” At the center of the story is Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Steve Buscemi), the county treasurer who is also the crime boss of Atlantic City. On the eve of Prohibition, Nucky sees the potential and has already made plans to keep the city swimming in alcohol. This double life becomes more complicated with the arrival of a WWI veteran Nucky has always looked after named Jimmy (Michael Pitt). Jimmy’s eagerness pulls Nucky further into the criminal life, and soon he is a full-fledged gangster as well as a politician.

            Business is not all well, however, because there are many obstacles in Nucky’s path. There is the New York mafia, who wants to muscle in on his action, as well as a Prohibition agent (Michael Shannon) determined to stop him. Period melodrama peppered with extreme violence and real-life characters like Lucky Luciano and Al Capone make “Boardwalk Empire” one of the most engaging series to come out in years. I can’t wait to see how the following seasons will be, especially with such a strong first.

            The Blu-ray set for the first season includes all twelve season one episodes, with cast and crew commentaries on six of them. There is also a making of featurette and another featurette dedicated exclusively to the impressive Boardwalk set. The special features also include a character dossier for all of the different players, and two featurettes about the real 1920s Atlantic City and real famed speakeasies in New York and Chicago.

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