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Boardwalk Empire Review: The Sopranos Meets Deadwood

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HBO's highly anticipated series "Boardwalk Empire" debuted last night at 9:00 and did not disappoint. boardwalk empire

The pilot episode, directed by Martin Scorcese was gripping, intense, and at times wickedly funny.

Steve Buscemi, who portrays Atlantic City political boss and racketeer Enoch "Nucky" Johnson (fictionalized as Nucky Thompson for the series) carries the show much like James Gandolfini in The Sopranos and Ian McShane in Deadwood. If you were a fan of The Sopranos and Deadwood, then Boardwalk Empire is just the show for you.

Boardwalk Empire's story focuses on Atlantic City just when Prohibition goes into effect in 1920. In one of the first scenes of the show, Nucky Thompson and his cronies cheer the impending prohibition like it's a gift from the Gods. One of Thompson's cronies asks who will pay $3 for a drink? And, Thompson aptly responds, "you will!"

Alas, Thompson is ready to reap the rewards of Prohibition, which will serve to vastly inflate the price of alcohol. Cha-ching!

The show also centers around the character Jimmy Darmody (played by Michael Pitt) who is a struggling young man trying to rise up through the ranks of organized crime in AC. For you mafia history buffs, a young Al Capone is also featured in the show. He and Darmody strike a chord and do a job together right off the bat. Further on in the show, Thompson meets with Lucky Luciano and strikes a deal for weekly supplies of booze.

And, thus the stage is set for Boardwalk Empire. It will be exciting to see how the drama develops over the first season.

As is the case with many series premieres, it takes a while to get to the core of what a show is about. Boardwalk wasted little time in cutting to the chase. This brilliantly crafted drama has "hit" written all over it. And, as long as HBO supports the show, it will be around for quite some time. HBO made a serious mistake when they cancelled Deadwood after just three seasons due to the budget. Boardwalk's budget isn't cheap (the set was reportedly $20 million) so hopefully history won't repeat itself here.

Ultimately, the pilot of episode of Boardwalk was rich with substance, drama, and history. Boardwalk Empire is the love child of The Sopranos and Deadwood - rife with lots of cursing, action, violence, attractive females, nudity, great dialogue, and dark humor. If you're a fan of sex, violence, and F-bombs, then Boardwalk Empire is right up your alley. Don't miss it each Sunday night at 9:00.

Philly2Philly.com's Veronica Dudo was in Atlantic City for the red carpet premiere over the weekend. For photos of the Boardwalk Empire premiere, check out the Lens Gallery.

Email Dennis Bakay at dbakay@philly2philly.com