Not to mention the legions of the semi-living dead who are bussed down from New Jersey’s retirement homes to pump quarters into the video slots for eight hour stretches. “Boardwalk Empire”, the newest addition to HBO’s growing list of superb shows, takes us back to a time before Atlantic City sucked, a time when prohibition had turned the town into a (pre-Coolio) gangster's paradise.
A big budget, well-shot period drama like “Boardwalk Empire” was exactly what HBO needed to win back subscribers. Seeing as big draws like “The Wire” and “The Sopranos” are off the air and the current major line-up consists of the love-it-or-hate-it “True Blood”, the steadily declining “Entourage”, the criminally under-appreciated “Eastbound and Down” and a bunch of shows nobody watches (“Treme”, “Bored to Death”, “In Treatment”), HBO was definitely hurting for ratings. But, just like it did for MTV, I think Jersey will once again deliver the goods.
“Boardwalk Empire” has a strong, well picked cast of “of hey it’s that guy(s) from that movie, no I don’t know his name”, most notably Steve “Stud” Buscemi and Michael K. Williams (Omar comin’, for “Wire” fans) who is great as always. The sets are also excellent and really capture that early 1900s gangster feel, something that hasn’t been done since “Miller’s Crossing”. The only real problem with the show is the writing sort of meanders in the first couple of episodes, but as of late, it has definitely picked up steam. Is “Boardwalk Empire” the next “Sopranos”? Honestly, I don’t know if anything can be the next “Sopranos”, cause those are some huge shoes to fill. It is however one of the must-watch shows of this fall.