Must-see TV drama series – Boardwalk Empire

21 Apr

It’s not often that you watch a period piece of television that really transports you back to the era in which it’s set. The recent ABC TV mini-series Paperback Giants achieved a fairily true-to-life 1970s feel through its archival street footage of people going about their daily business – and the use of hilarious ’70s clothing. But for a real lesson in how to achieve authenticity, you need to watch Boardwalk Empire – an American drama series currently screening in Australia on Foxtel’s Showcase Channel (7:30pm, Sunday). If you don’t have Foxtel then buy it on DVD. It’s worth it.
 Set in the 1920s era of prohibition, Boardwalk Empire is the story of Nucky Thompson (a real person), a corrupt county official whose main source of income is bootlegging. This is a man with his fingers in more pies than a bakery. He has close ties with everyone who’s anyone – politicians, gangsters and mobsters, including the infamous Al Capone. The series features some of Hollywood’s heavy hitters, including Martin Scorsese and Mark Wahlberg as executive producers and Steve Buscemi in the title role of Nucky. This is a truly lavish series. I believe the pilot episode (directed by Scorsese) cost a cool $20 million to make. That’s the price of authenticity. This was the flapper era – where men and women always wore hats and gloves, a man could get away with wearing full-length mink overcoat and a red carnation in his buttonhole, and all women wore silk lingerie and beaded ‘flapper’ dresses. Boardwalk Empire is at once evocative, violent, historically interesting and narratively engaging. At a time when the word ‘quality’ is rarely used in relation to television, it’s an absolute breath of fresh air. Ever have those nights when you’re just sick of cooking shows with recipes you’re never going to cook – or the pettiness and predictability of reality shows? In other words – cheap television. Boardwalk Empire is the perfect antidote – a cracking plot, talented actors and beautiful cinematography. You can see where the money went.

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One Response to “Must-see TV drama series – Boardwalk Empire”

  1. Anonymous April 21, 2011 at 8:21 am #

    beats the hell out of Donna Hay and her Boringwalk empire…

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