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Boardwalk Empire Premiere Takes Over TV on HBO

Posted by on September 17, 2010 at 3:38 PM EST

boardwalk empire premiere hboThe hit new show on HBO entitled Boardwalk Empire is set to take over the fall TV lineup.

One of the most anticipated new shows of the year, Boardwalk Empire, premieres this Sunday on HBO. Created by Terrence Winter, one of the producers of The Sopranos, and staring Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire has the pedigree to be a hit, but there are some questions about its legs.

Nobody will doubt Winter’s ability to produce a raw, gritty and thoroughly engrossing story. Since the show will air on HBO Winter has the freedom of portraying the story however he wishes without having to work within the confines of a rating. The story itself is also an interesting one. Based on a non-fiction book Boardwalk Empire tells the story of county treasurer Enoch “Nucky” Thompson a political fixer and backroom dealer who runs Atlantic City from his room at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

Set in the 1920’s, Atlantic City is growing fast, but prohibition threatens to slow that. Prohibition also presents Thompson the opportunity to make a lot of money. People come to Atlantic City to gamble and drink, he has the connections to make sure that those things can still happen – for a price.

Thompson is played by amazing character actor Steve Buscemi and it might be Buscemi that could cause the problem. I love Buscemi. I think, even though he receives plenty of critical acclaim, he is still underrated. I think he is one of the best actors working today. But I wonder if he can be the center piece to a story like this. Part of what made the Sopranos so interesting and captivating was that James Gandolfini gave Tony Soprano a heart. He showed his strengths and that he could be a very scary, dangerous man, but he also had a charm and charisma about him that made people like him. The test for Buscemi will be trying to carry off that same juggling act. If he can pull it off, this show could be a hit. If not, it may not last.

The other potential problem it has is that it is set in the 1920’s. Again, I love period pieces. One of my all time favorite shows was Deadwood. But often shows set in older eras have trouble picking up steam. I’m not sure why that it, but the landscape is littered with shows that were set in other eras and didn’t make it.

The opening episode of Boardwalk Empire finds Thompson preparing himself for the arrival or prohibition, but his attention is torn away by the simultaneous arrive of the beautiful Irish immigrant Mrs. Margaret Schroeder (Kelly Macdonald). Thompson knows she is married, but he can’t help himself – he is drawn to her. Also in the mix is Agent Van Alden (Michael Shannon) who is pursing Thompson like a determined bloodhound. His investigation could derail all of Thompson’s business and personal ventures.

With a group this talented behind Boardwalk Empire I hold out high hopes that this will become another landmark series for HBO. As a Buscemi fan I hope he pulls it off and finally get some of the accolades he deserves and as a fan of good storytelling I just hope it lives up to the hype. Boardwalk Empire is one of those shows that will have to walk the tightrope to succeed. Let’s hope it keeps its balance and doesn’t let us down.

Tune in for the series premiere of Boardwalk Empire this Sunday, September 19th at 9PM ET on HBO.



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