Boardwalk Empire – the winner of 12 Emmy Awards – finally sees its third season released on DVD and Blu-ray, and fans of complex television drama will not be disappointed. Picking up sixteen months after season 2’s shocking finale, this latest season kicks off on New Year’s Eve 1923. Nucky (Steve Buscemi) and Margaret’s (Kelly Macdonald) marriage is tense at best, and there is a new high profile bootlegger in town, in the form of Bobby Cannavale’s Gyp Rosetti.
As can be expected, HBO has once again delivered a first rate show; one which not only rivals, but surpasses in quality most Hollywood films right now. In many ways, parallels can be drawn between Boardwalk Empire and The Wire (another much-praised HBO series). Each episode requires the viewer’s utmost attention if they mean to understand the plot fully, for there is a large amount of characters – residing in a variety of US states – for us to follow. This factor has both its upsides and downsides. On the one hand, this means that each individual storyline cannot be given as much air time as – I for one – would like them to; but on the other, this does result in the few moments we have with them seeming all the more exciting. This is none more true than in the case of the excellent Michael Shannon’s government agent turned outlaw Nelson Van Alder, a truly fascinating character, whose narrative I hope will be given more attention next season.
With season 3, Boardwalk creator Terence Winter has delivered a beautifully constructed period piece, filled with impressive performances from its cast, and outstanding production values which really bring the roaring twenties to life. While many of the show’s themes – loss and loneliness for example – are sombre in tone; these are alleviated by a quirky, upbeat jazz soundtrack and magical photography work. Not to be missed.