The fourth season of HBO’s prohibition era series, Boardwalk Empire is about to kick off, as evidenced by the “Kings” teaser trailer being played continuously on the cable channel. That of course also means the third season is now available to own. A couple marathon sessions and Boardwalk Empire fans should be sufficiently refreshed on the last season’s happenings. Though it is also offered in other formats, the Blu-ray with HBO Select is the preferred and more complete format. This edition includes five Blu-ray discs, two double sided DVDs, and a voucher for a downloadable copy.
Season two of Boardwalk Empire, while occasionally referred to as middling, and accused of having an uneven pace, quite literally ended with a bang. The consequences of both Nucky Thompson and his wife Margaret’s actions in the second season set up a good portion of the circumstances in season three. A year and a half later, Nucky is no longer half a gangster. Except for occasionally keeping tabs on the former agent, Van Alden, the third season almost exclusively takes place between Atlantic City and New York City. Back on top, Nucky has to defend his own turf.
You could argue that by Margaret giving away Nucky’s fortune at the end of the second season, it almost forced the gangster mantra upon Nucky. At the very least, it created a totally different dynamic between the two of them. But chronicling their relationship alone, wouldn’t satisfy most of the series’ fans. The show has some great characters and season three really pulls back the curtain on a few of them. Van Alden and Chalky White are fleshed out as more real characters and Gillian reveals the lengths she is willing to go through to protect what is hers. While Jimmy’s companion, Richard Harrow got plenty of screen time previously, in season three he is finally able to escape Jimmy and Gillian’s shadow.
Boardwalk Empire is loosely based on the real life of Atlantic City’s Enoch Johnson and as such, pulls a lot from the history of the prohibition era. Make no mistake though Boardwalk Empire is entirely fiction. New to this year’s Blu-ray offering are 24 mini newsreels, spread across the discs that offer some actual history from the period. When I received the set, I was excited to watch Martin Scorsese’s featurette and to hear his comments on the series. Unfortunately, he offers very little insight, while explaining how great everyone that works on the series is. For a real look into what makes the show, the “Director’s Chair” with Tim Van Patten and Alan Coulter is much more insightful.
Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season does of course feature a handful of audio commentaries with the cast and crew, including Steve Buscemi and Gretchen Mol. While the set also offers a look back at the previous season and an introduction to the new characters in season three, some more hints about season four would have been nice. The sets are a huge part of what makes the show great, as with all of the HBO series on Blu-ray, the video transfer of Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season immaculate in 1080p with a 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio. The same can be said for the English 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio. The audio is available in French and Spanish in DTS Digital. The included DVDs also look and sound great in the 16:9 aspect ratio with the slightly more compressed 5.1 channel Dolby Digital audio.