Nochy Thompson (Steve Buschemi) rules the Boardwalk – the famous pier and amusement area of New Jersey. He’s the most powerful man through a lifetime of corruption which only expands with the introduction of the prohibition of alcohol. Boats make illegal deliveries, his crew distribute and collect. This, in combination with a variety of bribes and political dealings, has made Nochy the most powerful man in the region. Boardwalk Empire sees the return of his prodigy, Jimmy, who was fighting in the Great War, as well as the introduction of Margaret Schroeder, an Irish woman who catches Nochy’s attention and the attempt of various people to overthrow Nochy’s reign.
I find the prohibition a fascinating time to look at; a massive social experiment that went wrong. The Ken Burns documentary gave some extremely interesting insights into the reasons the prohibition was introduced in 1920 and what happened before it was repealed in 1933. Lawless gave a depiction of the life of the bootlegger. Boardwalk Empire looks across the board at the illegal activities of the time; bootlegging, illegal imports, prostitution, political bribery and all sorts.
As with so many of the HBO series, this is an extremely well crafted and put together show. The characters are utterly compelling, often inspiring empathy despite some of the awful actions they take. Steve Buschemi is perfect for Nochy – a ruthless controller with a hidden but genuine weakness. The second season ends with quite a cliffhanger, and I am hanging out for the third season now. Why can’t this show be fastracked?
Boardwalk Empire won Golden Globes in 2011 for Best Television Series, Drama and Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama and has been nominated for a variety of other awards.