The next big thing arrived on our screens courtesy of Sky Atlantic. Directed by Martin Scorsese, the first episode, as is the case, established the dramatis personae of our story. The detail of the show in design costume and sets is flawless. The cast is a smattering of well knows and a mix of newer faces. It's all pretty much there, as an establishing episode of a sprawling series. Introductions to Lucky Luciano and Rothstein along with a young Capone. The introduction of prohibition and the jazz soundtrack sets things up for a historical rise and fall.
But, and here's the thing, it appears to be lacking in heart. As a first episode I does not make me want to immediately watch the next, nor does it make me feel that i want to follow the stories it begins. Time will tell.
However,for me the biggest problem is the casting of Steve Buscemi in the lead. I like Buscemi and have enjoyed many performances from him, but I feel that in the intimacy of the TV experience his qualities do not shine. Furthermore I just don't buy him as Enoch 'Nucky' Thompson. As the axis on which the series spins it is hard for me to believe in Buscemi's portrayal.
I have avoided Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men references as these comparisons have been bandied about, but such is the track record of HBO that one does expect excellence. On this early stroll along Boardwalk Empire I remain unconvinced.