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THR’s Andrew Wallenstein gives a fairly glowing review to HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” (read my similar early take here), calling it “intoxicating”:
As in “Mad Men,” there’s plenty of small scenes depicting antiquated ways of yore that make you chuckle at how people lived during the 1920s (though you might pass out rather than laugh in the third episode when a gonorrhea treatment is shown with a surgical tool the size of a hockey stick). Other influences are nakedly derivative: A montage of murders in the pilot is so blatantly lifted from “The Godfather” that Francis Ford Coppola may take umbrage.
To some degree, the visual grandeur of “Boardwalk” can overwhelm to the point of distraction. It might take a few more episodes before the characters take on the texture we’re accustomed to getting from creator/writer/executive producer Terence Winter, who reliably delivered such rich storytelling as a writer on “The Sopranos.”
The ghosts of “Sopranos” and “Mad Men” hover over “Boardwalk”; it’s even in the former’s old time slot. Beautifully rendered as the series is, there’s a high-concept conflation of the two shows here in the way it marries the mob melodrama of “Sopranos” with “Mad’s” period fetishism. It’s a savvy programming strategy but robs “Boardwalk” of a certain freshness that would otherwise elevate it to the same echelon as those TV classics.
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