Binge Guide

Weekly Binge: Boardwalk Empire

by | July 23, 2014 | Comments

What better time to binge-watch a show than right before its final season? With an award-winning pilot directed by Martin Scorsese, once Boardwalk Empire hooks you, it never lets go.

Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire

What’s the premise? At the dawn of Prohibition in 1920, Atlantic City treasurer Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Steve Buscemi) finds a new way to make a quick buck — bootlegging. Not one to do things on a small scale, Nucky builds a criminal empire that stretches from the shores of Atlantic City to Boston, New York and even Chicago — leaving piles of bodies, stacks of cash, wrecked lives, and bottles of booze in his wake.

What’s it like? It lives up to its HBO pedigree with lush sets, rough language, gratuitous nudity, and jarring violence, during a pivotal time in American history. The pilot takes place during the first year of Prohibition, with women fighting for the right to vote. It’s as if you mixed The Great Gatsby and The Untouchables — but threw in a bit more naked Steve Buscemi (and ladies).

Where can I see it? Seasons one through three are available on Amazon Instant Video, Vudu and iTunes. All four seasons are available on HBO Go, Blu-Ray, and DVD as well.

How long will it take? The pilot episode of Boardwalk Empire clocks in at 73 minutes, with each of the subsequent 47 episodes having an average run-time of 53 minutes. Most episodes are gruesomely violent — it earns its TV-MA rating — so depending on your tolerance, you might need to pace yourself. If you’re really determined and don’t mind a good bloodbath, you can do one season a weekend and watch the whole thing in a month — plenty of time to catch up before its final season airs on September 7.

What do the critics think? Critics were wowed by the first season of Boardwalk Empire, with Heather Havrilesky of Salon raving “Boardwalk Empire presents a TV program that’s so polished and beautifully executed, each episode feels as rich and memorable as its own little Scorsese film.” Even its lowest rated season — season two — is 85 percent on the Tomatoemeter. Most critics agree that Boardwalk Empire is a slow burn that requires patience, but often pays off big. Andy Greenwald of Grantland said of the season four finale, “I can safely say the season of Boardwalk Empire that ended last night was, by far, its best.”

Why should I watch this? With a strong ensemble cast, Boardwalk Empire is anchored by a career-defining lead performance from cult favorite Steve Buscemi. Also, Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) displays more emotional depth with half a face than many actors can with their whole body. Boardwalk Empire is the entire package: terrific writing, great acting, lush sets, fine camerawork, humor, romance, violence, drama, hot people doing bad things, not-so-hot people doing bad things, and just enough hope that maybe not everyone is evil. Just don’t get too attached to any of the characters and you’ll do fine!

What’s my next step? Series creator Terence Winter and pilot director Martin Scorsese worked together on The Wolf of Wall Street and are currently filming an untitled pilot for HBO set in the music world of 1970s New York. For more Scorsese-style gangsters, check out his Certified Fresh 1990 flick Good Fellas. If you want something a little more period, try Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables, James Gray’s The Immigrant, Howard Hawks’ 1932 gangster classic Scarface, or Raoul Walsh’s 1939 prohibition-set film The Roaring Twenties with James Cagney. For more episodic gangster fare, try TNT’s Mob City, set in 1940s Los Angeles.


Did you stick with Boardwalk Empire since the beginning? Tell us why
!

For more TV news, visit the Rotten Tomatoes TV Zone.

Tag Cloud

Pixar composers golden globes Television Academy sports Fall TV Logo TV Land batman tv talk Martial Arts Hear Us Out Dark Horse Comics Disney+ Disney Plus ABC universal monsters VICE Tumblr crossover WGN FXX TNT American Society of Cinematographers Teen Marathons directors Crunchyroll Infographic 21st Century Fox NBC Winter TV HBO USA Network revenge Lifetime werewolf Country die hard period drama Red Carpet Black History Month teaser Shudder Chilling Adventures of Sabrina YouTube Premium APB movies San Diego Comic-Con spinoff cooking Animation Music cancelled TV shows Summer 4/20 Reality YA animated Sci-Fi transformers cults Pride Month hispanic Brie Larson Crackle doctor who joker FX Super Bowl MSNBC unscripted Ellie Kemper Women's History Month slashers CBS IFC Films 2019 kids comiccon Epix cancelled TV series Netflix TCA Winter 2020 ghosts Pop robots 45 travel Ovation award winner Character Guide comic Syfy The Witch franchise LGBT Anna Paquin DGA E3 Star Wars facebook VOD GIFs Valentine's Day BAFTA 2015 Grammys Trailer news TLC Apple TV Plus PBS Watching Series Comics on TV rotten movies we love finale elevated horror reviews Holiday jamie lee curtis medical drama Rocky game of thrones Netflix Christmas movies A24 Disney Plus streaming television Horror free movies TCM The Walking Dead screen actors guild Pop TV Amazon Prime Video Stephen King 20th Century Fox Musicals Action Podcast asian-american sag awards DC Comics Disney streaming service stoner toy story video on demand Winners DC streaming service DC Universe Holidays CW Seed miniseries Rom-Com halloween OneApp spanish language comics Columbia Pictures Awards Tour diversity Masterpiece Box Office justice league anthology serial killer Premiere Dates Ghostbusters VH1 Extras Film Best and Worst singing competition USA SundanceTV video mockumentary stand-up comedy dceu cinemax mutant space Tarantino documentary Turner Opinion Classic Film reboot canceled TV shows Tomatazos adaptation Film Festival New York Comic Con Walt Disney Pictures Discovery Channel PaleyFest Family Paramount Network book nature police drama binge MTV Mindy Kaling spider-man Marvel Television Mary Tyler Moore Apple Fantasy child's play Sneak Peek documentaries FOX Esquire Starz discovery movie a nightmare on elm street Thanksgiving Countdown Disney Mystery Superheroe anime crime drama comedies Food Network PlayStation TruTV Peacock Amazon zombie technology sitcom ABC Family Lifetime Christmas movies romantic comedy Election 2018 game show Fox News Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt cancelled television Musical Calendar cars politics Oscars Turner Classic Movies Drama Western Pet Sematary Star Trek cartoon Year in Review GLAAD independent Paramount Emmy Nominations crime thriller Sony Pictures El Rey Polls and Games canceled critics 2016 political drama SXSW Shondaland Interview Elton John concert TV Set visit Vudu versus BET Tubi films A&E DirecTV YouTube Red 007 chucky theme song name the review E! Hallmark indie Quiz natural history dark supernatural Funimation Cosplay crime witnail Sundance Now Amazon Studios quibi TCA History cats GoT Avengers Certified Fresh Baby Yoda green book zero dark thirty criterion Showtime biography CMT hist festivals spy thriller indiana jones Academy Awards Mary poppins Superheroes BBC YouTube dragons BBC One psychological thriller TV renewals true crime The Purge Pirates strong female leads twilight See It Skip It Creative Arts Emmys Christmas Spring TV Sundance TV renewed TV shows spain what to watch Sundance blaxploitation aliens SDCC OWN Marvel Hallmark Christmas movies satire TBS ITV talk show latino 71st Emmy Awards adventure CBS All Access casting Adult Swim TIFF cops blockbuster President AMC Nat Geo Travel Channel The Arrangement Lionsgate Emmys Universal Cannes thriller Biopics dramedy Spike docudrama Kids & Family Lucasfilm screenings MCU Writers Guild of America X-Men Schedule historical drama Photos psycho Freeform Trivia Bravo RT History richard e. Grant Rocketman sequel war Comedy Central all-time Cartoon Network Warner Bros. Comedy ratings Endgame RT21 harry potter ESPN romance 24 frames Nominations parents WarnerMedia First Reviews disaster TCA 2017 vampires children's TV 2017 HBO Max Mary Poppins Returns scary movies BBC America Britbox BET Awards IFC boxoffice Heroines Video Games Captain marvel Chernobyl Binge Guide Arrowverse zombies Nickelodeon Apple TV+ FX on Hulu Toys breaking bad Trophy Talk National Geographic best Marvel Studios science fiction The CW Black Mirror HBO Go based on movie Amazon Prime foreign Awards south america dogs mission: impossible dc First Look social media 2020 Reality Competition Spectrum Originals Disney Channel cancelled Mudbound LGBTQ Song of Ice and Fire Comic Book CNN NYCC christmas movies Hulu Rock series Acorn TV