Boardwalk Empire: The Complete First Season

Featured In Issue 163, January 2012

WSR Score5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
HBO Home Video
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Martin Scorsese, Tim Van Patten, Jeremy Podeswa, Alan Taylor, Allen Coulter, Brian Kirk, Brad Anderson & Simon Cellan Jones
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"Boardwalk Empire" is the winner of eight Emmy® Awards, including Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series by Martin Scorsese, and the 2011 Golden Globe® for Best Drama Series and Best Actor Steve Buscemi. The Great War was over, Wall Street was about to boom, women got the vote, and everything was for sale, even the World Series. The undisputed ruler of Atlantic City was the town's treasurer, Enoch "Nucky" Thompson (Buscemi), a political fixer and backroom dealer who was equal parts politician and criminal and equally comfortable in either role. Because of its strategic location on the seaboard, minutes from Philadelphia, hours from New York City, and less than a day's drive from Chicago, the town was a hub of activity for rumrunners. And Nucky Thompson took full advantage. Based on the book "Boardwalk Empire" by Nelson Johnson. (Tricia Spears)

Special features on Discs One, Two, and Three of this five-disc set include enhanced viewing modes; audio commentaries; and a character dossier, which allows you to follow the development of the major players. Disc Four also features enhanced viewing modes, audio commentaries, and a character dossier, but it also includes the "Atlantic City: The Original Sin City" documentary (HD 29:35) and the "Speakeasy Tour" featurette (HD 24:39). Disc Five features enhanced viewing modes, audio commentaries, a character dossier, the behind-the-scenes featurette "Making Boardwalk Empire" (HD 19:35), and "Creating The Boardwalk" (HD 04:54). Also included is a CD featuring the music from the HBO series and a hardbound book filled with photos.

The 1080p AVC picture is gorgeous throughout, with a historical feel, yet exhibiting a warm and rich color palette that is strongly saturated yet toned with browns and golds. Hues are vivid, with incredible reds and deep, solid blacks. Fleshtones are natural in appearance yet slightly toned, for an aged effect. Contrast is consistently well balanced, with excellent shadow delineation. Resolution is superb and reveals fine detail in facial features, hair, clothing, and object texture. At times the picture exhibits a softer focus for effect. Director Martin Scorsese and his cinematographer/cameras' arm have created an exceptionally fine picture experience that perfectly captures the imagination of Atlantic City during the roaring '20s. This is a wonderful filmic experience that is absolutely mesmerizing. (Gary Reber)

The DTS-HD Master Audio™ 5.1-channel soundtrack is effectively produced, but at times the surround soundfield collapses, with frontal focus prominent. Still, when the action is energized the surrounds come alive and provide a sense of dimensionality. At other times the surrounds are subtle but provide ambiance support. Dialogue is nicely produced with generally good spatial integration. The music score is nicely recorded and, at times, is rip roaring and at other times reserved, but always supportive. Bass support is provided with generally reserved .1 LFE energy. While the sonics are not as well developed as, at times, the visual suggests, the overall result is an effective sonic experience that nicely supports the dramatic storytelling. (Gary Reber)