There was a time when Game of Thrones was hot as in really hot, but ever since I watched the first season back then, I never really kept track of it. These days whenever I stumble upon some new episode while zapping through channels on TV I always have to look things up on the Internet to get at least a glimmer of what I’ve just seen. I’m sure one of these days, perhaps five years down the road when the Blu-Ray sets have become affordable I might complement my season 1 and 2 boxes and watch the full story (feel free to tick off my Amazon wishlist if you feel lie it), but for now they are only good for catching dust.
One good thing came out of it, though. The first season of GoT had the pilot episode of Boardwalk Empire as a promo on a DVD thrown in. I never gave it much consideration I have to admit, but it must have been on of those evenings when there really was nothing worthwile on TV and I didn’t feel like re-watching something from my collection when it finally happened and I gave it a whirl. I was immediately hooked and regretted not being able to move on to the next episode, but as it is, I had to bite my time for the DVDs to become much more affordable.
This must have been some time in autumn of 2014 when season 4 was just freshly released here in Germany, but there was no rush and one of my more endearing virtues is an almost endless patience when it comes to these things. Boardwalk Empire barely being known in these parts, never having run on free TV and even on pay TV only for a short time with almost zero promotion helped prices to drop rapidly and those DVD sets being relegated to the budget bin. Last year I then picked up the first four seasons and earlier this year the final fifth season, and now I’ve started binge-watching everything for the first time. As I’m writing this, I just finished season 1.
It took a bit to actually get in the mood and pop in the discs in the player, but once I started, I felt at home again right away. I’m not necessarily a 20th century crime history buff beyond some crude and generic half-knowledge via some films like The Godfather or The Untouchables, so at first I was a bit anxious whether I would be able to follow things easily, but thankfully the whole storyline unfolds very organically and nothing is thrown at you with force.
Calling everything from the writing to the production to the choice of actors may sound like a cheap and obvious statement, but you can really find almost no fault with the series. If one were to have a complaint, perhaps it would have to be that Scorcese‘s often somewhat unnecessarily long-winded and bloated style of shooting scenes has rubbed off a bit too much, but with him being a producer and director here, who can you blame? This may be different already in later seasons, so I’ll reserve judgement for later.
As far as individual characters are concerned, of course Nucky Thompson stands out as played by Steve Buscemi. You really can’t help but sympathize with this crook. He’s doing bad things, but his heart is in the right place and his motivations make sense. One is even tempted to feel sorry for him because at times he seems to be surrounded only by utter morons, including his own brother Eli, and has to take things into his own hands. Jimmy is another story. Somehow I knew right away that his treacherous baby face would get everyone in deep shit eventually. The same could of course be said for the religious fanaticism of a certain agent Nelson van Alder. This can only end very, very badly.
There’s certainly no shortage of interesting story threads and developments and I’m already giddy starting the second season later this evening. It’s really strange that this series has been treated so poorly over here, given how much garbage is on TV every day…