Boardwalk Empire season 2 Blu-ray Review
When we left off with ‘Boardwalk Empire’ at the end of its first season, Jimmy (Michael Pitt), Eli (Shea Whigham) and the Commodore (Dabney Coleman) were conspiring to take down Nucky (Steve Buscemi). This set up the entire premise for the second season as their plans started to unfold and Nucky started to feel the heat from every direction. He was being indicted for fixing the election, investigated for murdering Margaret’s (Kelly Macdonald) husband and recovering after a failed assassination attempt. Needless to say, things were not going Nucky’s way.
If there was a question in the first season about who this show belongs to, then that question was more than answered in the second season. ‘Boardwalk Empire’ is 100% Steve Buscemi’s show and as the season progressed, it was clear that Nucky would find a way to come out on top. That’s a mixed blessing because although Buscemi is great, Nucky isn’t really the kind of character we want to follow. He’s good as the center point, but the real meat of the show comes with the supporting characters, who have complex lives, emotions, backgrounds and motivations that the audience wants to be a part of. Unfortunately in season two, the supporting characters received less and less attention, with the possible exception of Jimmy.
Jimmy is the epitome of a complex character and although Michael Pitt does a fantastic job, Jimmy is also a tough character to root for. The reasons for that become clear in the last episode, but prior to that, I would have liked to see more from him. I thought they were going to take the series in a certain direction, and maybe they were, but halfway through the season they did a 180 and Jimmy’s character suffered the most. Unfortunately, the same can be said for all of the supporting characters as everyone had their development stunted or cut off entirely.
I also found myself growing tired of Nelson (Michael Shannon). Since he was no longer hunting down Nucky (or anyone for that matter), his character served no purpose and offered nothing to the overall story. Everyone has some connection to Nucky’s well being, with the exception of Nelson. So when the show focused on him, his wife or his mistress, everything slowed down. Nucky’s legal troubles focused mostly in the courtroom as Esther (Julianne Nicholson) was the DA assigned to prosecute Nucky. But without Nelson wielding a gun and trying to track down the bootlegging or investigate Nucky’s other crimes, the intensity of Nucky’s situation seemed to be mitigated. The characters in the show were frustrated with the legal attack on Nucky as opposed to just trying to kill him and I think the audience shared their frustration. We knew Nucky was never going to end up in jail and even if he did, we didn’t really care.
‘Boardwalk Empire’ can be slow and methodical to a fault. That said, the show is so detailed and well written that it’s hard not to respect it and enjoy watching great actors perform. It reminds me of ‘Deadwood’ in the sense that it’s an impressive display, but it doesn’t always entertain. I would like the show to move a little faster and to develop other characters more, but I still find myself enthralled with the series.
Video: Every episode looked wonderful, with the blacklevels coming through well. ‘Boardwalk Empire’ is a dark show, but thankfully the transfer quality didn’t suffer because of it.
Audio: The audio was also very well done.
Audio Commentaries: There are six commentaries available with the writer, producers and directors. If you enjoy the series then I suggest you check these out.
Character Dossiers: This is information on all the major players from season two.
Back to the Boardwalk (13:57): This is an overview of everything that happened in season one, which was fantastic to watch before delving into this season.
Secrets of the Past: Storytelling in Episode 11: This is a picture-in-picture track that should have been included for all the episodes.
Liviing in 1921: This is an interactive feature that delves into the history of the 20’s as well as includes interviews. Pretty interesting to click through.
The Money Decade (25:02): A more detailed documentary about the time period and how the middle class emerged onto the scene.
New Characters (3:59): A quick look at some of the new faces from season two.
Updates to the Boardwalk (2:59): The locations and sets from season two.
Season Two Promo Spot