My thoughts on the show

#1
The Characters

Nucky - Less emphasis and total change of his character leaves more room for others. That's a good a thing. On the other hand show seem to loose its core. Buscemi acting is not flawlessly brilliant, but quite all right. Overall pleased with him. Biggest question here is - Is Nucky gonna go back to politics or will he stay a gangster? That's a major plot question for the future.

Jimmy - Glad he's gone. Limping creep was really bumming me out and dragging the show down with his PTSD and dad/mom/family issues. Sure he was a heavy, complex, centerpiece character, but without him the show became lighter and faster paced. Dynamics had definitely improved and there is more room for better, more interesting characters. His confused dyke wife was a major bore too. Good to see these two dull sad creeps gone.

Harrow - Cool grim character, but sad and pointless without Jimmy and his wife. Like a dog after his owners died. What's his angle now? Babysitting? Revenge? Gillian's bitch? Finally finding his love (in a whore house?) to stop being a murdering machine? Awww! Common. I say send him after Gyp and his crew, then get rid of them both altogether. Massive shoot out. One "war hero guy" against a town full of thugs. Seems like a proper, deserving way to retire good ol' half-face.

Chalky - Great funny acting. Wasn't believable seeing him as a Nuck's lackey for Cantor intimidation. Still funny, though cliched scene.

Gillian - Wish for more sex scenes and nakedness. Other than that she's as "useful" for the show as Harrow. Doubt she will make a grand return by collaborating with someone against Nucky to revenge Jimmy. Fighting leaky roofs? Is that her plot development nowadays? Really? Okay, let's assume she becomes a major whore house owner. Then who is the sap she's gonna manipulate with her pussy? Gyp? Luciano? Useless leftover character at this point, IMHO.

Gyp - Awesome acting as a funny psychopath, but too small and dumb of a fish to be considered a major rival. Still great to watch. "Everybody got guns!!!"

Margaret - Turned into a total bitch. Organizing prenatal class, doctor not fucking her (yet), and Nucky's cheating will make her stone cold strong and would lead to Margaret overcoming the struggle and emerging as an Atlantic City female leader powerhouse in her own right. Kinda like Nucky in the skirt. I think that's what writers are building up here.

Benny Siegel, Dean O'Banion, Van Alden nutcase family, Gaston Means, Masseria - Just pure acting and writing awesomeness all together. WOW! Very impressed.

Rothstein, Luciano, Lansky, Capone - Same consistent good acting. Good lines also.

Billie - Not too bad of a character. Less annoying and "in your face" than Lucy.

Cantor - Obnoxious prancing queer have gotten more screen time for some reason. His last scene, when he for once got mad and finally took off his phony mask, was great though. Wish to see less of him and his stupid corny singing/dancing.

Mickey - Not as funny and scheming (yet) as in last season. More serious and bitchy now. But what the hell. Keep him around. He's an experienced survivor.

Owen, Eli - No complaints here. Steady acting. Logical, no surprise, common sense character development.



The Show

With Jimmy gone and Nucky becoming a gangster the show seem to lack in core and substance, for their relationship was the center theme of the show. However, after getting rid of the gloomy, depressing characters, dynamics and pace seem to have picked up. The show became lighter, more focused, direct, streamlined, interesting, and easier to watch. No unnecessary drama, no fillers, no dumb scheming, no confusion, no inner conflict fixation, no endless self-reflecting. Like a train, leaving the old station, and steadily moving to a new one. Though seemingly less complex, I think what we see here is a brewage for more bigger plot in motion. We are witnessing a build up for much more complicated, different things. Great new characters had emerged too. Another point that must be noticed is dialogue. It's simply superb. Episode 5 was especially impressive. What a masterful use of language! Pleasure to ears. Good humor too. Overall very pleased with the change of direction. Unlike season 2 found myself not bored. Looking forward to new episode every week. Thank You, show creators!



The Hopes

After the show is done, secretly wishing for a spin-off with Lucky and Al as main characters. Would love to see Carlo Gambino, Vito Genovese, Dutch Schultz, Bugs Moran, Salvatore Maranzano characters. Not holding my breath however.



P.S. Was really happy when Nuck offed that lying, thieving, dipshit kid. I knew he would!

Re: My thoughts on the show

#2
I think a lot of people were disappointed with Jimmy "leaving" the show. His and Nucky's relationship shared a lot of characteristics with what made the Sopranos such a good show.

Overall, I like Boardwalk Empire. The production values are high, the stories and characters are interesting, and the acting is good. However, it lacks some of the symbolic themes that the Sopranos carried. It is more of a "period" piece to me, with less comment on society, morals, and philosophy.

Re: My thoughts on the show

#3
I agree with the positive side of Jimmy the Creep's demise. He was a boring, duplicitous shitheel, and had a cardboard cutout character's depth. Maybe, though, the casting was to blame, as it is in other Chase works. The actor playing Jimmy should stick to TV commercials, or start a new career in commercials. That retarded haircut of his was the worst thing about him, and there was a lot of "worst" in the character.

The most interesting stories are in NYC and Chicago. AC is a hick backwater and all the AC players are real turdball characters, including Chalkie. The actor was unconvincing as a faggot stickup legend in The Wire and he continues his tradition as Chalkie with the silly facial mugging in the delivery of every line.

That shrieking queen, Eddie Cantor is by far the worst character in the AC crowd.. Why he had any scenes other than an abbreviated vaudeville stage appearance or two, to establish that he was there is beyond me. I hated the music in this series. That 20's radio dreck really sucked, and that's the only kind of 20's music they use in the score. There was way too much of it. A series like this begs for an absence of overlying score.

Buscemi is a good actor, but he's unconvincing as a kingpin. His talent is suited to the tortured wannabe badass like the one he played in Fargo. He sucked in the Sopranos, because he's wrongly cast as a tough guy. He's as miscast in BE as he was as Tony Uncle Al in the Sopranos.

The second worst character is the Fed Agent Van Alden, played by Michael Shannon. Shannon is so repulsive looking that he ruins every movie he's in. In BE he's supposed to be the guy we love to hate, but to me he's just a puke trigger.

Chase's signature dimbulb dream sequences aren't as prevalent as in the Sopranos, but I've only gotten through the 2nd season so far, and I'm expecting it to emerge worse than before in the 3rd season.

The series doesn't quite suck, but it skates the edges most of the time, threatening to blow at any second.

Re: My thoughts on the show

#4
The show started off strong, and the talent involved can't be denied. However, it will never be as good as The Sopranos. This is largely because of the setting - while the Sopranos was very much "of its time", BWE is taking us back to a period when things were very different. As such, none of the characters can reach the depth or relevance of Tony, Christopher, Carmela, or any of them. The human stories can't carry this show the way they sometimes carried The Sopranos, which could go several episodes without violence while still telling a profound psychological story about life in the 21st century. Boardwalk Empire doesn't have this element. It will never be as relatable, so it has to keep that mob violence coming for the sake of spectacle, and lately it kind of feels like this constant violence is getting a little mind numbing. BWE's characters are more archetypal, and fundamentally fictional, than The Sopranos. In order to be compelling, it has to give its characters cinematically tragic backstories - Nucky's dead wife and child, Jimmy's Oedipal upbringing, Margaret's abusive husband, pretty much the entire character of Richard Harrow. The Sopranos found tragedy in more nuanced fashion - existential depression, an unhappy marriage, discomfort and guilt with one's own privileged upbringing. I can see flashes of universal humanity in BWE's characters, but not too often. Ultimately, it's more about the spectacle of "what will these crazy gangsters do next?" And those storylines are pretty cool, Terence Winter has proven that he's great at spinning them. He brings certain aspects of Sopranos that i enjoyed - most notably, the classic stooge-like absurdity you see with some of the characters like Eli Thompson and Mickey Doyle.

Generally, I really enjoy the aesthetic conveyed in BWE. The general atmosphere is really immersive, and often quite subtly unnerving. Sometimes that archetypal character development really works, and it feels like a Greek tragedy. However, another way it pales in comparison to Sopranos is the soundtrack. I agree with Sonny Tatts here, those old 20s tunes just don't do it for me, and hearing them episode after episode gets a bit tiresome. Sopranos had a huge, eclectic soundtrack that included rock and roll, doo wop, blues, jazz, psychedelic, electronic, hip hop, heavy metal, pretty much everything. including, occasionally, music from BWE's time period. That said, the title sequence with the Brian Jonestown Massacre song is possibly my favorite TV title sequence ever. dare i say, it's better than "Woke Up This Morning".

The show also kind of lacks a real "core". It seems like it can't decide whether it wants to emulate The Sopranos or The Wire. The thing is, while Buscemi does a great job, Nucky just can't carry this whole show the way Tony carried The Sopranos.
Taps, lights out, 2200 hours. What's missing? Give up? Television.

Re: My thoughts on the show

#5
zwingli wrote:The show started off strong, and the talent involved can't be denied. However, it will never be as good as The Sopranos. This is largely because of the setting - while the Sopranos was very much "of its time", BWE is taking us back to a period when things were very different. As such, none of the characters can reach the depth or relevance of Tony, Christopher, Carmela, or any of them. The human stories can't carry this show the way they sometimes carried The Sopranos, which could go several episodes without violence while still telling a profound psychological story about life in the 21st century. Boardwalk Empire doesn't have this element. It will never be as relatable, so it has to keep that mob violence coming for the sake of spectacle, and lately it kind of feels like this constant violence is getting a little mind numbing. BWE's characters are more archetypal, and fundamentally fictional, than The Sopranos. In order to be compelling, it has to give its characters cinematically tragic backstories - Nucky's dead wife and child, Jimmy's Oedipal upbringing, Margaret's abusive husband, pretty much the entire character of Richard Harrow. The Sopranos found tragedy in more nuanced fashion - existential depression, an unhappy marriage, discomfort and guilt with one's own privileged upbringing. I can see flashes of universal humanity in BWE's characters, but not too often. Ultimately, it's more about the spectacle of "what will these crazy gangsters do next?" And those storylines are pretty cool, Terence Winter has proven that he's great at spinning them. He brings certain aspects of Sopranos that i enjoyed - most notably, the classic stooge-like absurdity you see with some of the characters like Eli Thompson and Mickey Doyle.

Generally, I really enjoy the aesthetic conveyed in BWE. The general atmosphere is really immersive, and often quite subtly unnerving. Sometimes that archetypal character development really works, and it feels like a Greek tragedy. However, another way it pales in comparison to Sopranos is the soundtrack. I agree with Sonny Tatts here, those old 20s tunes just don't do it for me, and hearing them episode after episode gets a bit tiresome. Sopranos had a huge, eclectic soundtrack that included rock and roll, doo wop, blues, jazz, psychedelic, electronic, hip hop, heavy metal, pretty much everything. including, occasionally, music from BWE's time period. That said, the title sequence with the Brian Jonestown Massacre song is possibly my favorite TV title sequence ever. dare i say, it's better than "Woke Up This Morning".

The show also kind of lacks a real "core". It seems like it can't decide whether it wants to emulate The Sopranos or The Wire. The thing is, while Buscemi does a great job, Nucky just can't carry this whole show the way Tony carried The Sopranos.

Wow. Very well put! I coudn't agree more. I recently binged the whole show, and I liked it a good deal but I find it hard not to be tough on it just because of the potential it kind of wasted in many cases. If you compare it to Sopranos and other top tier shows, it definitely suffers, but looked at as a solid crime-drama driven by action instead of character/theme it is pretty good. Anyway, Season 4 was the only one I thought really worked on all levels. The characters focused on there were fascinating, and I appreciated the absence of Nucky and Margaret in a lot of the season. It was a change for the better, and the writing was superior partly because it didn't rely on plot machinations and murder so often as the first three seasons. It also had a great, beautiful melancholy cast to it that stuck with me. Season 5 was better than the first three too, but it was a step back as it just felt too rushed despite many great moments. I found myself missing Rothstein and wishing they didn't skip ahead.

Also I TOTALLY agree about the music. I don't think they could've done the Sopranos route of using tons of songs of any genre, new and old, as it would have been too jarring (the title sequence works mostly because it feels separate from the show). Overall it's not a terribly inventive or meta or reflexive series, it is pretty straight-faced and traditional, so using post-20s/30s songs would have sounded weird. They were kind of caught in a bind then. But I still found the music to be frustratingly same-y.
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