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Boardwalk Empire (Season 2)
Sep 4, 2012 By: Chris Bumbray
Boardwalk Empire (Season 2) order download
Director:
Various

Actors:
Steve Buscemi
Michael Pitt
Kelly McDonald

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Nucky Thompson's (Steve Buscemi) grip on the Atlantic City boardwalk is threatened by an insurrection led by his former protege, Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt), Jimmy's father- The Commodore (Dabney Coleman) and Nucky's brother- the town sheriff, Eli (Shea Wigham). But- while Nucky may be down, he's not beaten, and by the end of the season, Nucky's going to get even.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: we're in the middle of a new golden age for television drama. Thanks to the lack of restrictions on the the content of pay TV shows, the shorter seasons, and the top quality talent that's flocking to channels like HBO- the stuff on TV is increasingly besting their big-screen counterparts.

For me- BOARDWALK EMPIRE stands at the top of the heap, alongside BREAKING BAD, MAD MEN and GAME OF THRONES. In the tradition of other HBO shows, including the late, great THE WIRE, BOARDWALK has taken it's time setting up a complex and intriguing cast of characters. It's probably not to everyone's taste (indeed- several friends of mine think it's too slow), but like a good novel you can't help but getting sucked in.

BOARDWALK EMPIRE gets it's inspiration from actual events that took place during prohibition in Atlantic City- although they play fast and loose with history. No matter. Steve Buscemi finally gets his chance as a leading man with his part as Nucky Thompson having reinvented his screen presence in an almost Humphrey Bogart-ish fasion. Michael Pitt, an actor I never really cared for before BOARDWALK is similarly good as the James Cagney-esque Jimmy, although in season 2, he becomes a little to big for his own britches, leading to an inevitable showdown with Nucky.

The rest of the cast is similarly good, with one of my favourite actors, Michael Shannon, sinking his teeth into the repressed prohibition agent-Van Alden, who- in season one, murdered one of his fellow agents in cold blood, and got Nucky's ex-mistress pregnant. His moral slide continues in season 2, and Shannon's work is astounding. I also love Kelly McDonald as Nucky's sometimes sweet, sometimes vaguely sinister companion- Margaret, while this season also introduces STARDUST's Charlie Cox as Nucky's new IRA associate, and the great William Forsythe as Jimmy's Jewish liquor supplier.

As good as they all are- I must admit that the show is absolutely owned by Jack Huston as the disfigured Richard Harrow. While he stole plenty of scenes in season one, here- he becomes a leading character, with a good chuck of the first half of the season being spent examining the torment he feels due to his dis-figuration, and his envy of family man Jimmy. It all gives way to a tense, blood-soaked finale, that leaves the cast a little leaner, but also promises lots more drama to come is season 3.

THE EXTRAS
There's lots to choose from here, including commentary on six episodes, interactive character dossiers that can be activated throughout each episode (good if your memory of season one is patchy). There's also a variety of featurettes covering everything from life in 1921, to the economy of the era, new additions to the cast, and more. There's also a single PiP video commentary - although in the first season, each episode got this treatment. I guess HBO is cutting back.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
To me, season 2 of BOARDWALK EMPIRE is just as good as the first, and I was absolutely riveted by each and every episode. Certainly, this is among the finest shows ever made. Hopefully HBO sticks with it for years to come.
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12:05PM on 09/04/2012

Couldn't agree more on your first sentence.

Not since the early 90s (L&O, NYPD Blue, E.R., Homicide) have we been this lucky to have this quality of scripted drama nowadays (B.E., GoT, AHS, Damages, and even though they're in different countries: Sherlock and Luther). It's unreal. As for this past season the writers stepped their game up, BIG TIME. This season left the first in the dust and if anything, felt more intense with Chalky (glad Williams got more screen time, he was Omar Little for God's sake) and his community's situation,
Not since the early 90s (L&O, NYPD Blue, E.R., Homicide) have we been this lucky to have this quality of scripted drama nowadays (B.E., GoT, AHS, Damages, and even though they're in different countries: Sherlock and Luther). It's unreal. As for this past season the writers stepped their game up, BIG TIME. This season left the first in the dust and if anything, felt more intense with Chalky (glad Williams got more screen time, he was Omar Little for God's sake) and his community's situation, Eli fucking up all the time, and Jimmy just turning into an overall back-stabbing piece of shit. Forsythe and Cox were outstanding in their roles as well, I hope both end up joining the cast.
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