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1-1: "Boardwalk Empire" 2010.09.19 (recap)


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#151

sopheeso

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Posted Sep 23, 2010 @ 6:47 PM

I think the key to appreciating this show is to watch it when it airs on Sunday night, wait a few days and then read all the posts here on this board, and then watch it for the second time. The best of both worlds--a fresh eye the first time and an informed eye the second.


I did just that today and got a lot more things than I did the first time around! Mr. sopheeso asked me why, but he watched too and we compared notes. I feel so informed now!

#152

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Posted Sep 23, 2010 @ 7:19 PM

I guess I'm just easy. No, that's not it. I love this show because it's one about my favorite era: Prohibition. Sure, I know the history of Torrio, Capone, Luciano. But Nucky? Blank. And I also realize they'll have to wiggle with the historical stuff to make good drama, but, as others have said, and I agree, I'm in. I love Scorcese.

I've seen my share of shows/movies about the mafia and the only one I can think of that even touched Prohibition was The Untouchables and that was back in...'97?

That is all.

#153

clack

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Posted Sep 23, 2010 @ 10:52 PM

Cotton Club, Once Upon a Time in America, Godfather II are some fairly recent films involving the Prohibition era.

#154

TWoP Howard

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Posted Sep 24, 2010 @ 2:29 AM

I even liked the credits which were another example of how awesome HBO does credit sequences.

They reminded me a bit of the credits for Big Love—just that surreal feeling.

#155

Milburn Stone

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Posted Sep 24, 2010 @ 6:59 AM

I even liked the credits which were another example of how awesome HBO does credit sequences.


They reminded me a bit of the credits for Big Love—just that surreal feeling.

All the great HBO shows have had credit sequences that felt new and organic to those shows. I agree that this one, on the other hand, has a sense of deja vu about it--not that it is the same as another HBO show's, just that there is something "reminiscent" about it. It's as if whoever created it said before starting out, "Well, how do these HBO shows usually look and feel? I guess I'll look for something in that ballpark." Which, for me, is a microcosm of what was wrong with the entire show.

Edited by Milburn Stone, Sep 24, 2010 @ 10:02 AM.


#156

vadafaith

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Posted Sep 24, 2010 @ 10:22 AM

I, too was confused about the liquor heist. Second (and third ) viewings helped.

The show opens with Rothstein's men picking up the liquor from the "fisherman" dude that Nucky made the smuggling deal with. (We see this deal later in the show -- it happened 2 days earlier. [I think.]) Once the trucks are loaded, one of Rothstein's guys says "Better piss now, we're not stopping until we get to New York."

Jimmy, Al, and some guy named "Tommy" with a sporty yellow roadster waylay the liquor trucks. High-jacking ensues.

Cut to three days earlier: Jimmy's pissed because Nucky's made him a go-fer for Paddy Ryan, fourth ward clerk. During the scene at the dinner table with the local bosses, Paddy wouldn't meet Jimmy's eye or toast him. I can't decide if it was a deliberate diss. Jimmy cuts out of the "Prohibition Party" in a huff. Say's it's his stomach. Heh.

Next day, Jimmy drives Nucky to the wharf where he witnesses fisherman guy and Nucky make the deal for the Canadian Mist.

That night, during the Out-of-town bosses meeting, Jimmy bonds with Al. He's obviously comparing his situation with Luciano's and feeling left behind. Luciano's his age, has half-a-mil and a seat at the big boys' table. During the same dinner, Nucky sells the booze to Rothstein as a show of good faith in their new bootlegging enterprises.

Next day, Jimmy tries to talk to Nucky about his dissatisfaction and ambition, and Nucky blows him off and goes in to the funeral parlor/distillery. Creepy Mickey Doyle plays a bad joke on Jimmy, and makes him look and feel foolish and "weak." Jimmy goes off on the dude.

Outside the funeral parlor, he asks Nucky for a bigger role, and Nucky tells him to make his own opportunities. Jimmy refuses Nucky's money.

That night, Jimmy meets Al at the midget boxing match (I never thought I'd type those words) and they make the high-jacking plan.

Next day, Jimmy calls in sick. Nucky learns that Rothstein has screwed him for the price of the booze and another $30,000 on top of that. I don't know if Jimmy knows this -- he's not around to hear about it as it happens, anyway.

The Internal Revenue guys pick Jimmy up. We are left to assume that Jimmy feeds the feds the info about Doyle's distillery. Gets even with Doyle and creates a diversion for his real plan.

The night of the heist, we're supposed to think the feds are closing in on Jimmy & co. until we see them busting the funeral parlor.

Nucky and Eli figure out that Jimmy's responsible for the high-jacking. No matter what Nucky says, Rothstein will think he's behind it, so their new partnership is off to a very rocky start.

Nucky tells the Commodore that Jimmy is behind the heist. The Commodore seems oddly delighted that Jimmy "had it in him."

Jimmy catches up with Nucky and gives him a share of the heist. Says he can help him with the "half-a-gangster" thing. Nucky says he can have him killed, and Jimmy says, "But you won't." Now instead of taking money and being a flunky, Jimmy's following Nucky's own advice and making his own opportunities.

Edited to add: Al drove the liquor to Chicago. They showed him pulling into a warehouse, where Johnny Torrio (one of the bootleggers at the bosses' dinner and Al's boss) hugs him and pats him on the back. I think that's how Jimmy got his share of the loot, Torrio paid him his share before he left AC.

*On a completely different note: When Mr. Schroeder confronts Margaret about the money Nucky gave her, she's slicing bread. When he approaches her, she hangs on to the knife for a couple of seconds. Puts it down reluctantly. I think it's a hint that she's not completely meek. I wonder what would have happened if the children hadn't been there.

Edited by vadafaith, Sep 24, 2010 @ 10:29 AM.


#157

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Posted Sep 24, 2010 @ 10:39 AM

On a completely different note: When Mr. Schroeder confronts Margaret about the money Nucky gave her, she's slicing bread. When he approaches her, she hangs on to the knife for a couple of seconds. Puts it down reluctantly. I think it's a hint that she's not completely meek. I wonder what would have happened if the children hadn't been there.


I took Margaret pausing before putting the knife down to show her fear at her husband challenging her explanation about fainting by the church and Nucky taking her home out of concern. But, when you explain it that way, it makes sense that perhaps instead she thought she could, um, find a quick way out of a very bad situation.

#158

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Posted Sep 24, 2010 @ 11:31 AM

Vadafaith, thank you for that clear 584-word summary. I understood some of what you describe when I watched the episode, but not all of it--and not the most essential elements of it to be able to make sense of it.

What the episode needed was a pause in which an on-camera announcer would read to the audience what Vadafaith wrote.

#159

vadafaith

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Posted Sep 24, 2010 @ 12:52 PM

You're welcome, doc.

I really don't think that Jimmy knew about Rothstein's big gambling win. Jimmy also didn't plan on murdering Rothstein's men, although once the bullets started flying, he took it all the way. The third heist guy, "Tommy," is also a wild card. He's witness to four murders.

Maybe upcoming episodes will be a bit more linear. Although I loved the look and feel of this first episode. When Jimmy drove Nucky up to the funeral distillery, I gasped. Stunning shot. I don't mind the homages. Scorsese certainly has earned his own. How many riffs on the "you talking to me?" scene have been filmed?

I also liked the visual jokes. Right after Jimmy drops Margaret Schroeder off, he has a staring contest with Hans Schroeder. Cut to the scene on the pier of the net dropping full of fish. We subliminally associate Mr. Schroeder and the fishing net. Or not.

eejm: I definitely think Margaret was afraid of Hans. She'd been there before. Grasping the knife was an impulse toward self-defense. Just not one she could willingly act on.

Edited by vadafaith, Sep 24, 2010 @ 12:58 PM.


#160

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Posted Sep 24, 2010 @ 1:18 PM

I found the answer to at least one of my questions in EW apparently Babette of Babette's Supper Club is Jimmy Darmody's mother. If her club has been the place to be for most of Jimmy's life and presumably Babette was a showgirl on the scene for many years before that it make sense that Nucky would have had dealings with her for a long time and goes a long way to explaining how he's known Jimmy at least since he was twelve. It also explains why she was so interested when he came into her club. Although I wouldn't completely write off the idea of them being related since again if Babette has been around that long she probably was more than friends with Nucky(or his brother) at one point or another.

#161

Boisvert 8

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Posted Sep 24, 2010 @ 2:06 PM

Once again, I'll post this in the ep thread since there's no film refs/shoutouts thread, yet. I'm betting one may pop up pretty soon though, since BE seems trending toward being chock full of 'em...

When I saw the close-up of Margaret grasping that bread knife, being the Hitchcock geek that I am (ok, awa several other kinds of geek) I flashed on Silvia Sidney doing the same in Sabotage (U.S. title was The Woman Alone btw). Sidney does kill her husband, saboteur Oscar Homolka, @ end of scene when she realizes he is responsible for the death of a child, her little brother.

Maybe Margaret is thinking self-defense, but imo she would have knifed her scumbag husband in a second (or died trying) if he had gone for one of the kids.

#162

eejm

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Posted Sep 24, 2010 @ 2:24 PM

Maybe Margaret is thinking self-defense, but imo she would have knifed her scumbag husband in a second (or died trying) if he had gone for one of the kids.


He did go after one of the kids later, indirectly (Margaret's unborn baby). Naturally, there was no way she could have known this, but I'm willing to bet she knew he had it in him.

#163

Penman61

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Posted Sep 24, 2010 @ 9:33 PM

The notorious sex/death scandal that ended Arbuckle's career famously included the accusation that Arbuckle had violated the victim with a foreign object...a bottle.

Now watch that Arbuckle clip again in the pilot. Yikes.

#164

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Posted Sep 24, 2010 @ 9:39 PM

The notorious sex/death scandal that ended Arbuckle's career famously included the accusation that Arbuckle had violated the victim with a foreign object...a bottle.


A piece of ice was another version, which isn't any more pleasant than a bottle.

#165

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Posted Sep 25, 2010 @ 1:08 AM

I just saw this for the first time tonight and enjoyed the background info here and on the special that followed (name escapes me), especially, being black, the history of the black contribution to Atlantic City. As someone stated above, it will probably be one of thsoe shoews you see on Sunday, come here to read the posts and then watch again.

I love Buscemi, but he has not aged well. He's 5 years younger than I, but looks older, a lot older. I'm trying to figure out if he really looks that way or if it is for the series. I know he's always looked 'different,' but this is age, not uniqueness.

I get taken with the music on these shows and have just spent a delightful time listening to Caruso, Pavarotti, Kraus, and Domingo sing 'O Lola.' What wonderful new music to enjoy. Of course, I'll always think of a blood splattered wall when I hear it...

#166

TigerKitty

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Posted Sep 25, 2010 @ 9:07 AM

My only problem now is whether to watch Boardwalk Empire or Dexter on Sundays at 9:00. Clearly I'll catch the other one later or On Demand.

#167

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Posted Sep 25, 2010 @ 12:14 PM

No, Emily Thrace, Babette isn't Jimmy's mother. Babette is played by Tracy Middendorf. Jimmy's mother Gillian is played by Gretchen Mol. I believe she'll have red hair in the series. Mol is also young to play someone with an adult son so it would seem Gillian gave birth to him when she was 13 or 14.

#168

leesha79

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Posted Sep 25, 2010 @ 5:06 PM

Well, you guys have me all interested to know if that really WAS Fatty Arbuckle. I checked imdb and wikipedia, and can't find anything to confirm or deny. The last archival footage listed for him on imdb is some documentary from 2007. I should point out that he was accused of violating and killing that woman, but was ultimately acquitted and given a formal apology from the jury who found him innocent, an unprecedented event in American justice. I am leaning towards the clip shown being the genuine article, since this is a Scorsese joint and Scorsese loves him some obscure early cinema references.

So Capone was lying to Jimmy about having been a doughboy? That's pretty messed up. Jimmy really doesn't have anyone who understands what he's been through, that saddens me.

#169

Boisvert 8

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Posted Sep 25, 2010 @ 6:52 PM

leesha79-

The Arbuckle clip is the real deal. It's from The Hayseed (released Oct. 1919).

#170

Kel Varnsen

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Posted Sep 25, 2010 @ 11:43 PM

The show opens with Rothstein's men picking up the liquor from the "fisherman" dude that Nucky made the smuggling deal with


The fisherman dude was Bill McCoy. I remember watching a documentary on A and E years ago about prohibition and they talked about Bill McCoy and how the phrase "the real McCoy" comes from his product, since buyers knew if they were buying booze from him it was real Canadian Club (or whatever else he was selling) not 10% Canadian Club mixed with embalming fluid and other chemicals.

#171

Pallas429

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Posted Sep 26, 2010 @ 7:38 AM

Nucky's anger at Jimmy about the heist seems a little...muted. Prohibition is 2 days old when Jimmy's scheme not only greatly ups the ante of Fed interest -- sure, it's hoodlums killing hoodlums, but on the public thoroughfare -- but also cast a pall on Nucky's new and potentially extremely lucrative partnership with Rothstein and Luciano. Plus it was an entirely unauthorized initiative taken by a very much junior partner. Nucky's driver, to be precise.

On the other hand, it may be interesting to see Nucky smooth over the results of this first, literal, "shake-down cruise" for the new partnership. Or come around to what may be Jimmy's view that the partnership isn't necessary -- that the Atlantic City crew can handle the risks and the rewards of distribution to New York or elsewhere, on its own. (I don't know how the partnership played out historically.)

"You can't be half a gangster anymore."

If Nucky and Jimmy eventually divorce, will the Commodore decide to side with Jimmy?

Overall I agree with Milburn's Stone's take that "Some things that happen for the first time...seem like they're happening again...And so it seems that we have met before, and laughed before, and loved before...but who knows where or when."

And I'm wondering about the casting of Buscemi and Pitt. Pitt, so entirely a passive persona and Buscemi, so inward. Even when Buscemi expodes, it's always a suicide bombing. I'm not saying that he doesn't have the skill to portray any other character or fate, but that character and fate seem written all over his face and down into his core: actually, more in the way of a Movie Star than in the way of a character actor.

A man I think might have been riveting as Nucky, a few decades ago, is the late John Cazele. There's a man who could look as noble or as craven, as handsome or as misbegotten, as the part demanded. I'm thinking of the way Cazale as Fredo delivered the lament, "I'm your older brother, Mikey! I got passed over! I'm smart!" while flopping impotently in a lounge chair, exactly like a flounder in a net. And yet...somehow, suggesting just a little of the real power and charisma of a son of Vito Corleone, just gone wrong in the womb or in his natal illness. A man of destiny, thwarted.

That said, I would be absolutely thrilled to see Buscemi prove me wrong. And go on to have the kind of second-half of a career, that Cazale might have enjoyed.

#172

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Posted Sep 26, 2010 @ 1:23 PM

More observations:

*Re Jimmy, he's as fascinating as Nucky, in his own way. Like Nucky, Jimmy is a study in contradictions. Jimmy served his country but hated doing it. He takes orders from Nucky but has defied him more than once (Case in point: the liquor heist). He can be naive, but he knows that one can't be just a part-time gangster in their world. He was smart enough for Princeton, but would rather be a career criminal. As for Jimmy's behavior, it seems like the war has increased and decreased his taste for violence. Jimmy doesn't want to kill for patriotism, but he would do it for Nucky, given the chance. Kudos to Michael Pitt. He can hold his own with Steve Buscemi. For example, in the scene when Jimmy confessed to Nucky about what the war did to him, what he did and that he was going to Hell because of it, Pitt showed Jimmy's true nature. The more Jimmy killed in the war, the more it killed him, in some ways. My theory about Jimmy is that he believes that he deserves to be punished because of the war, so he might as well become a full-fledged sinner. Jimmy's not just dead inside-he's buried.

*Loved seeing Michael K. Williams again. He may have only had one scene in the premiere, but it was memorable. Given Chalky's race and the era, being openly impatient with a White man shows that this character is a force to be reckoned with.

*Re Arnold Rothstein, Lucky Luciano and Al Capone, they all gave Nucky agita in one way or another. Between Rothstein's stealing the booze, cheating Nucky out of $90K and tutoring Lucky and Capone's buddying up to Jimmy and his involvement in the booze theft and the subsequent murders, Nucky's hands were fuller than ever.

I rewatched the Pilot again and am more impressed with Steve Buscemi than ever. I love that he and Nucky aren't pretty boys. They aren't supposed to be. Nucky's probably lived a tough life and it should show on his face. I also love that Nucky doesn't always wear his heart on his sleeve because it would be dangerous, for professional and personal reasons. While John Cazale would have been a great Nucky had he lived, Steve Buscemi is perfect for the part. YMMV.

Edited by Prettyeyes, Sep 26, 2010 @ 1:24 PM.


#173

Amplexus

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Posted Sep 26, 2010 @ 3:42 PM

leesha79, you're right! As Anastasia169, Kiss My Grits are. Boisvert 8 has said it: the Arbuckle's footage belongs to The Hayseed (1919).
[snip]
This BE Pilot has a big budget, but not to waste it in a so brief recreation! There are at least 30 shorts with Arbuckle that are preserved. And The Hayseed is available in two Arbuckle & Keaton dvd collections, and in a Buster Keaton's Complete Short Films.

You can watch this bit, in a small format, in YouTube! (minute 2:38).

Edited by TWoP Howard, Sep 27, 2010 @ 9:32 PM.
Boards on boards, off topic


#174

ReesieKitty

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Posted Sep 27, 2010 @ 2:57 PM

Out of all the things on this show, I think its funny people are shocked by the 'See the 3 Pound Baby'! place. Back then, preemies would have been VERY unlikely to live at all. I'm not saying putting them on display on a boardwalk was the BEST way to go- but they would have been considered an amazing sight for sure. Hopefully not in a freak way, but in 'how amazing they are alive' way. I am positive there were such places in the 20s, so it is historically accurate.

I really enjoyed this- the costume and period bits all seem well-researched and I'm finding the store compelling. It will take some time to build the characters, but I gotta say, I like Nucky. He isn't an evil guy- yet. He's sort of a petty criminal politician who is now going to have to decide if he REALLY wants to do what he will have to do in order to make good with the big-league gangsters who are going to be taking over the major cities.

As far as the black guy (Omar!!squee!) waiting in his office. The numbers and nightclub rackets in Harlem alone were HUGE. Big big money. I believe they were run by Luciano, but I am sure there must have been 'local' lieutenants who were black. So I didn't find it implausible that the guy might be waiting in the office for Nucky.

#175

mistermojorizin

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Posted Sep 30, 2010 @ 2:39 AM

Re incubator babies:

could be wrong, but they had fetal alcohol syndrome

and Nucky was dealing with feelings of guilt when he paused to look at them

that's why that scene was there, i think

#176

Kel Varnsen

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Posted Oct 1, 2010 @ 9:11 AM

could be wrong, but they had fetal alcohol syndrome

and Nucky was dealing with feelings of guilt when he paused to look at them


Except fetal alcohol syndrome wasn't even a thing in 1920. No one even though that drinking during pregnancy was a problem until decades later.

#177

politikgirl

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Posted Nov 25, 2010 @ 11:03 AM

Finally watched the pilot. I enjoyed it, despite finding some of the same problems that others have already mentioned (no need for that sex scene, the naked dead corpse, Pitt's delivery of the line "I've seen things, I did things", the predictability of the said line) and will be watching the next few episodes to see how I like it.

I was really distracted, though, by how much Pitt looks like DiCaprio. He even sounds like him at times.

I thought the last few scenes were various people got killed off was actually a bit of a snorefest, since I didn't care about who was getting killed. It lacked any emotional or even "shock" factor. When it comes to the last few scenes of a pilot where a bunch of people get killed AND there's an emotional impact, I still miss the pilot for the sadly cancelled The Black Donnellys. Now that was a great final scene.

#178

anothermi

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Posted Nov 25, 2010 @ 12:46 PM

I still miss the pilot for the sadly cancelled The Black Donnellys. Now that was a great final scene.

I mourn the loss of The Black Donnellys along with you.

I think this series, however, is taking the luxury of spending time setting up the foundation for the rest of the action later. We are reaping some of the rewards now and we are more than half way through the season. Actions are taken based on what has gone before - in particular the mass killing at the beginning - and not knowing that may be a problem for folks joining the series next season.

Edited by anothermi, Nov 25, 2010 @ 12:48 PM.


#179

politikgirl

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Posted Nov 26, 2010 @ 1:37 AM

I mourn the loss of The Black Donnellys along with you.

I think this series, however, is taking the luxury of spending time setting up the foundation for the rest of the action later. We are reaping some of the rewards now and we are more than half way through the season. Actions are taken based on what has gone before - in particular the mass killing at the beginning - and not knowing that may be a problem for folks joining the series next season.


I'm definitely willing to give the show the benefit of the doubt and continue watching to see how it unfolds. I think the pilot made clear to the audience that the ramifications of what happened in the final scenes of the pilot will unfold throughout the series, so I definitely see your point.

At the same time, though, not to keep comparing BE to TBD, but on TBD, that final killing scene in the pilot both set up so much of the long-term storyline for the rest of the show (well, before it was cancelled) AND packed an emotional punch as the audience not only realized why Tommy did what he did, but what it would directly mean for the rest of his life and that of his brothers - and I think the audience felt attached to the Donnellys, especially Tommy, by the end of the pilot.

In contrast, in the BE pilot, I didn't get the same kind of emotional punch. Maybe it's because I didn't find myself attached to either Nucky or Jimmy by the end of the pilot, so I couldn't care less how those mass killings would effect them, or maybe it's because there was something very detached about the way the last few scenes were put together, or both.

Edited by politikgirl, Nov 26, 2010 @ 1:38 AM.


#180

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Posted Mar 27, 2011 @ 5:46 PM

I didn't get to be one of the first people to see this show as it began airing. I didn't think the hype would be enough to get me to watch it until I was bored and queued up its pilot.

Pretty amazing and I thought a lot happened in the pilot as opposed to the average exposition fair we get usually.

Catching up furiously now.

Best thing to have come along this late into appreciating the show is I can have my personal Boardwalk Empire marathon.

I'll agree, however, that Buscemi sex scenes need to be toned down (mainly no closeups of his figure.)

Otherwise, this show is gold!