Under the Boardwalk
November 1, 2013
HBO’s highly rated period drama, Boardwalk Empire, is about to launch into its fourth season here in the UK. Expected to be received with much fanfare and expectation, having just scooped five Primetime Emmy awards to make it the channel’s second most successful production this year (behind Steven Soderbergh’s film Behind the Candelabra), we can expect great things from upcoming episodes.
A detailed episode by episode synopsis of Boardwalk Empire is available on the official UK website if you want to catch up on what’s been happening in Jazz-era Atlantic City for the last three seasons, but what makes this show such compulsive viewing in the first place?
Flexibility of the plot
Terence Winter’s fictional re-working of the Nelson Johnson’s non-fiction novel follows Enoch ‘Nucky’ Thompson, a corrupt political figure based on the real life Enoch ‘Nucky’ Johnson (no relation to the author).
Winter believes that although infamous characters like Capone and Luciano retain their identities, the subtle change of our protagonist’s name allows the show to deviate from its historical context; ensuring no-one knows exactly what is going to happen next.
The man everyone wants to work with
Although having never been involved with a serialised drama before, just the mention of Martin Scorcese is enough to attract the elite of the film and TV industry; from best boys to best directors.
The overall mastermind behind the show, Terence Winter admits to having to pinch himself when his name appeared on the same page as Scorcese – one of his all-time heroes who directed the pilot episode.
Casting the net
How fortunes might have changed had Lisa Kudrow been given the part of Ros Doyle on Fraiser or if Jim Broadbent had been cast as Del Trotter in Only Fools and Horses, Alan Rickman as Arnold J Rimmer in Red Dwarf or even Katie Holmes as Buffy Summers in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
All great actors and actresses but you only need only look at Harry Enfield’s failed tenure as Neil Morrisey’s flatmate in the ill-fated Men Behaving Badly to see how important making the right decisions in casting is.
Eyes may have been raised at lightweight Steve Buscemi being chosen to play Thomson when the real Nucky was a tall, burly man as far away visually from Buscemi as you’re likely to get but the proof is in the pudding, as they say. Delivering stellar performance after stellar performance, Buscemi gives the character a life of its own and is undoubtedly partially responsible for the show’s popularity.