By trumpeting the arrival of Sky Atlantic’s flashy new Mob drama Boardwalk Empire, Movie Talk is straying into the territory of our neighbours at TV Spy, who always have the inside dope on the best US series.
We don’t want to start a turf war, but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to celebrate the appearance of this lavish HBO series – particularly since Martin Scorsese is in the director’s chair for the opening episode, which alone cost a reported $18million.
You can see where the money’s gone. HBO have splashed out on recreating the hedonistic glamour and edgy danger of 1920s Atlantic City, a beach resort of waterfront casinos and speakeasies filled with high-rollers and showgirls, bootleggers and gangsters.
Devised by The Sopranos writer Terence Winter, Boardwalk Empire opens in January 1920, just as Prohibition – the new federal law prohibiting the sale of alcohol – is coming into the force. Making the most of the illicit money-making opportunities created by the ban is the series’ central character, local kingpin Nucky Thompson, played by Steve Buscemi.
A fictionalised version of a real-life Atlantic City treasurer who ran the town during Prohibition, Nucky manages to straddle the grey line between politics and crime while rubbing shoulders with the country’s most powerful mobsters.
Critics in the States have been lavishing praise and awards on Boardwalk Empire since its US debut last year. The equal of Mad Men has been the verdict. On the basis of the first five episodes I’ve seen, I wouldn’t go as far as that, but with juicy roles for a stellar cast that includes British actors Kelly Macdonald (as a working-class woman in an abusive marriage) and Stephen Graham (as a young Al Capone), this is definitely a series to watch.
Spread the word, only make sure you don’t rub up any dangerous types the wrong way when you do.
Boardwalk Empire opens on Sky Atlantic on Tuesday 1 February, 9pm.