A long time ago, HBO mostly aired movies that — if you were lucky — were only about a year-old. As time went on, the cable network began to produce its own, independent programming of feature-length films. Once TV shows became popular again in the late '90s, HBO produced its own series as well — which turned into one of their biggest hits, something called The Sopranos, a series that has practically been all-but forgotten — and, thanks to the era of reality diva TV that ushered in soon after, may actually be about a group of prima donna opera performers as far as some people know anymore!
Of course, those who don't remember gangster television history are sure to repeat it. So, with the contemporary charms of The Sopranos long gone from the average viewer's memory, there's no reason we can't wind back the clock for a Prohibition Era romp through the world of smuggling, bribery, murder, and more. And HBO's relatively big hit Boardwalk Empire certainly delivers all of that — whilst simultaneously allowing the great Steve Buscemi to finally inhabit a role that he can really sink his teeth into.
Here, Buscemi stars as a fictionalized version of real-life gangster Enoch "Nucky" Thompson: an oddly-named Atlantic City mobster, who — at the conclusion of Boardwalk Empire's critically-acclaimed first season — managed to effectively manipulate his way up to the rank of mayor, whilst still keeping his vast criminal empire steadily in check. At the same time, Nucky clumsily attempts to balance his recent marriage to Margaret (Kelly Macdonald), a mother of one (not his) who used to be his mistress — and who deals with her newfound hubby's lawful infidelities in her own particularly delightful way.
Meanwhile, Nucky and his young protégé, Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt) — the biological son of Commodore Kaestner (Dabney Coleman), the very man who showed Nucky the ropes in the business, and who becomes his nemesis in this season — start to lose their previously-established grasp over Atlantic City and its surrounding syndicate-friendly areas once our star is arrested for election fraud (oh, snap!). Tensions start to mount, set-ups are made, and just about everyone under the hoodlum sun — from greenhorn Al Capone (Stephen Graham) to a powerful gangster "Chalky" White (Michael Kenneth Williams, playing a truly imaginary character in order to give the series a sense of political correctness, I guess) — and soon, Nucky's friends, fellows and family begin to decide who's side they want to be on.