Tag: Dabney Coleman

Boardwalk Empire 1.12 – Life’s a Funny Proposition After All

Welcome, my friends, to the season finale of “Boardwalk Empire.” I really haven’t a clue how many of you there actually are, but given how few comments I’ve been getting, I have to figure that it isn’t a huge number. Still, I’ve been trudging ever onward, mostly because HBO has been kind enough to provide me with the episodes far enough in advance that I generally haven’t had to stay awake into the wee hours of Sunday evenings to finish up my blogs. Tonight, however, all of America’s TV critic stand on even footing, watching the finale at the same time as everyone else…or, in my case, slightly later. I was away on a brief vacation – except not really, since it was a trip that I’m going to end up writing about for Bullz-Eye, thereby making it a work-related excursion – and literally walked in the door just as the finale was kicking off, and it’s taken me ’til now (10:50 PM EST) to finally get myself wound down from my flight, grab a snack and a drink, and settle in to write.

When we first see Agent Van Alden this evening, he’s quoting St. Augustine. Moments later, he’s smacking the living shit out of a potential new recruit and lying about Agent Sepso’s cause of death, claiming it was a heart attack rather than, y’know, at Van Alden’s own hand. Clearly, he’s losing it…oh, who are we kidding? He lost it long ago. One presumes, however, that a certain part of him knows he’s losing it, as he’s decided to depart the bureau. I can’t see him getting away with having murdered Sepso, however. Not with all of those witnesses.

Nucky’s pretty pissed off about the current state of affairs in the mayoral race of Atlantic City, with the democratic candidate, Fletcher, poised to take home the victory. In asking his team – which includes Chalky White – to hunt up as many potential voters as possible for his candidate, Bader, Nucky’s seething with anger over the goings-on his personal life is palpable, and it doesn’t help that he’s being constantly told that his decision to remove Eli was a wrong one. Chalky admits, however, that Fletcher’s people have approached him in an attempt to get him to use his sway with his “people” and get them to vote for him. In truth, however, he says he’s only doing it for the money, that he’s really doing it for Nucky…particularly if he can get a little bit more money out of the deal. In addition to the money, Chalky wants a new car and an invitation to the new mayor’s victory party. Nucky said it’s tough to promise the latter, but Chalky calmly suggests it’s probably in both their best interests if he comes through.

Although she’s evacuated from the love nest provided to her by Nucky, Margaret and her kids are still in the general area, hanging out with Nan, mother of Warren Harding’s love child. Nan’s still quite naive, the poor thing, expecting to hear from Harding any day now. (Yeah, right…) As such, she can only offer Margaret a place to stay for a few more days, focusing on her future as a resident of the White House. In the meantime, Margaret keeps her chin up as best she can, baking a barn brack but clearly worrying a bit about her new friend’s state of mind.

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Boardwalk Empire 1.11 – Thou Hast Fulfilled the Judgment of the Wicked

At last, after several references to him during the course of the season, we finally get a first-hand look at Hardeen, brother of Houdini. His performance, while ostensibly impressive, receives little more than a yawn from Nucky. Margaret, meanwhile, is on the verge of offering a standing ovation. Harry and Annabelle are also in attendance, with Harry looking particularly nervous. He claims it’s because it makes him nervous to see Hardeen tied up. I’m skeptical. I don’t know what’s going on, but Harry’s clearly up to something…

Angela’s drifting off in thought while sitting at the dinner table, which really apparently pisses off Jimmy. Fair enough: he’s still smarting from the situation with the photographer, clearly distrusting his wife despite her assurances that she never slept with the man…which is true insofar as it goes, but let’s not go there right now. What’s more important is that he receives a phone call. It sounds like business, but he says it was his mother, letting him know that his father is dying. Given that Jimmy seemed to have viewed Nucky as a father figure when the season kicked off, I think it’s fair to say that the bond between him and his real father must be pretty weak.

Agents Van Alden and Sepso are enjoying a spot of Chinese when Van Alden unsurprisingly turns the topic of conversation to that of Sepso having killed Billy, and it’s not exactly what you’d call a polite dinnertime chat. Sepso maintains his cool, relatively speaking, but it’s clear that this won’t be the last time Van Alden brings up the matter.

The evening with Hardeen continues beyond his proper show, as he entertains the troops back at Nucky’s place. Once again, Margaret and Annabelle are enthralled, while Nucky shrugs and Harry sweats. It’s pretty funny to watch Hardeen play up his reputation even as he plays down his brother’s, but the fun stops when Harry explodes and at least explains why he’s been looking so sketchy all night: he’s lost a huge amount of money at the hands of one Charles Ponzi…and if the name sounds familiar, yes, he is the one who gave name to the so-called Ponzi Scheme, which most recently came to prominence via Bernie Madoff. So much for the relationship between Harry and Annabelle, eh?

Rothstein gets word from Chicago that things ain’t looking good for him with the whole Black Sox situation. His attorney suggests that he heads to Chi-Town, but to make sure he knows someone in the city who’s willing to do him a favor. Will it be Capone or Torrio?

No, The Commodore’s not dead yet, but you can’t blame his maid for fearing the worst. I mean, the guy’s already sick, and then his dog dies…? Talk about the kind of thing to send a guy into a tailspin. But, wait, who’s the Commodore’s guest? Jimmy?!? Wait a minute: Jimmy’s the Commodore’s son? Did we already know this? I’m pretty sure we didn’t. (Given the predilection of the majority of this blog’s few readers to only comment when they have a chance to criticize or complain, I can only presume someone will quickly confirm if I’m wrong.) Boy, Jimmy’s really pissed off that he’s had to make this visit, and it’s clear that he won’t miss his father when he’s gone. How else to explain the fact that, when the Commodore says he’s dying, Jimmy’s only response is to say, “Well, then, I will call you a priest.” Still, when the Commodore adds that the wrong person is running Atlantic City, it causes such mixed feelings in Jimmy that he promptly pukes. Still, I guess it would be a little confusing to realize that a man you’ve loathed for decades could well be the one who holds the key to the future you’ve been seeking.

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Boardwalk Empire 1.2 – And the world turns…

When the second episode of “Boardwalk Empire” kicks off, it’s a snowy day in 1920, but things are starting not on a boardwalk in Atlantic City but, rather, outside a church in Chicago. It’s the funeral for Big Jim Colosimo, and the reporters are already swarming around Johnny Torrio about his possible connections in Big Jim’s sudden and untimely demise by lead poisoning…as well they should. Still, look at the lovely flower arrangement sent by Nucky Thompson. He’s a real sweetheart, that one…

They’re definitely going out of their way to underline the fact that Nucky’s still mourning his wife: this is two episodes in a row where there’s been a blatant cut to her picture that’s either been preceded or followed by a shot of Nucky looking sad and lonely. Still, he instantaneously transforms into All Business Nucky when Agent Van Alden bursts into his office, easily finding a smirk to accompany his question about whether Van Alden would like “coffee…or something stronger.” Still, the agent’s skepticism about Hans Schroeder’s connection to the shooting is clearly weighing heavy on Nucky’s mind, as evidenced by his extremely limited tolerance for George when he encounters him early in the episode. I mean, seriously, he barely even tried to mask his distaste for the man.

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Boardwalk Empire 1.1 – Here We Go, Boyo…

Wait a minute, didn’t I just spend last week talking about how excited I was to be back to only having one show to blog on Sunday nights? Well, yes, I did, but it’s hard to resist taking a weekly look at a show with the kind of pedigree that “Boardwalk Empire” has, especially when its creators aren’t afraid to send out advance screeners of its episodes. Granted, that may change once the show has gotten on its feet, but as it stands right now, I’m in a position where I can watch at least the first six episodes in advance, thereby leaving me only “Mad Men” to actually blog on Sunday nights.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Meet Enoch Thompson, known to his friends…and, indeed, some of his enemies…as Nucky. Described by HBO’s website as “equal parts corrupt politician and gangster (and equally comfortable in either role),” Thompson is the much beloved treasurer of Atlantic City, New Jersey. And why wouldn’t they love him? He’s the kind of guy who promises everything to everyone, even if it involves telling complete lies to make them happy. Indeed, when we first see him, he’s lecturing before the Women’s Temperance League, praising the beginning of prohibition…and, minutes later, he’s having dinner with the mayor, the city council, and several key law enforcement officials – one of whom is his own brother – and telling them how he’s found a way to keep Atlantic City “as wet as a mermaid’s twat.” I’m sure that joke would’ve gone over like gangbusters amongst the suffragettes.

Speaking of the suffragettes, during his speech, two faces stand out in the crowd…or, rather, one in the crowd and one on the outskirts.

First, there’s a young lady in the audience who’s eying Nucky quite intently. That’s Margaret Schroeder. She’s a good Irish girl who’s married with two children and a third on the way, but her husband’s going to be out of a job come the end of tourist season, and she was so affected by Nucky’s speech about how he and his family once had to eat wharf rats to survive (a tale which was either heavily embellished or, more likely, completely fabricated) that she later decides to venture forth to Nucky’s office and ask if she can find work for his husband when the time comes. He agrees, hands her a wad of cash to get her family through the hard times in the interim, and provides her with a ride home. The end result: her husband gets pissed, takes the money, knocks her around, and goes off to gamble at Nucky’s establishment, ostensibly just to rub it in his face. In turn, Nucky rubs his face into a table. Repeatedly. So what does the guy do in response? He heads home and beats his wife to the point that she loses the baby. As soon as word gets back to Nucky, he has the bastard killed…and, frankly, it’s hard to imagine anyone mourning the son of a bitch.

Now, let’s get back to that Women’s Temperance League meeting, so we can address the identity of the young lad hovering in the shadows.

Meet Jimmy Darmody. He’s been part of Nucky’s inner circle for many moons, and after fighting for his country in World War I, he’s now back at Nucky’s side. Once he was a boy, but now he is a man…and he’s looking to be acknowledged as such. Unsurprisingly, it’s hard for Nucky and his guys to see him that way. Jimmy’s tensions rise to the surface when he and Nucky visit a bootlegging operation in the basement of a local funeral home. After Jimmy takes a swig of some formaldehyde-laced liquor, fists and bullets start flying, with one of the latter going through the basement ceiling and straight into a funeral. (I laughed really hard at that, by the way. And after I realized that the bullet hadn’t actually hit anyone, I laughed even harder.) Upon exiting the premises, Jimmy and Nucky finally have it out, with Nucky breaking out his wad of bills and Jimmy dismissing it, saying that he doesn’t want money, he wants an opportunity. After being picked up by the revenuers, though, Jimmy decides to make his own opportunity, teaming with some of Johnny Torrio’s boys – one of whom is a young up-and-comer by the name of…wait for it…Al Capone – to step in and swipe a shipment of Canadian Club intended for Nucky. Later, Jimmy meets up with an understandably pissed-off Nucky, and Nucky is left dumbfounded by the cajones of his former protege, who informs him that he “can’t be half a gangster anymore,” then gives him his cut.

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Psyched for the premiere of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”?

If you’re not now, then you will be after checking out these videos which the network has kindly provided in order to help build the already-considerable buzz about the show.

America in 1920: The Great War was over, Wall Street was about to boom and everything was for sale, even the World Series. It was a time of change when women got the vote, broadcast radio began and young people ruled the world. From Terence Winter, Emmy Award-winning writer of “The Sopranos” and Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese, “Boardwalk Empire” is set in Atlantic City at the dawn of Prohibition, when the sale of alcohol became illegal throughout the United States. The new HBO drama series kicks off its 12-episode season Sunday, Sept. 19, at 9:00 PM EST / PST.

On the beach in southern New Jersey sat Atlantic City, a spectacular resort known as “The World’s Playground,” a place where the rules didn’t apply. Massive hotels lined its famous Boardwalk, which featured nightclubs, amusement piers and entertainment that rivaled Broadway. For a few dollars, a working man could get away and live like a king – legally or illegally. The undisputed ruler of Atlantic City was the town’s treasurer, Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Steve Buscemi), a political fixer and backroom dealer who was equal parts politician and gangster and equally comfortable in either role. Because of its strategic location on the seaboard, the town was a hub of activity for rum-runners, minutes from Philadelphia, hours from New York City and less than a day’s drive from Chicago. And Nucky Thompson took full advantage. Along with his brother Elias (Shea Whigham), the town’s sheriff, and a crew of ward bosses and local thugs, Nucky carved out a niche for himself as the man to see for any illegal alcohol. He was an equal-opportunity gangster, doing business with Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg), “Big Jim” Colosimo (Frank Crudele), “Lucky” Luciano (Vincent Piazza) and Al Capone (Stephen Graham).

As “Boardwalk Empire” begins, Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt), Nucky’s former protégé and driver, returns home from the Great War, eager to get ahead and reclaim his rightful place in Nucky’s organization. But when Jimmy feels things aren’t moving quickly enough, he takes matters into his own hands, forming a deadly alliance with associates of Nucky’s that sets the Feds, led by Agent Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon), on his mentor’s tail. Complicating matters further is Nucky’s burgeoning relationship with Margaret Schroeder (Kelly Macdonald) a woman in an abusive marriage whom he tries to help. The show also stars Michael Kenneth Williams as Chalky White, leader of the city’s African-American community; Dabney Coleman as Commodore Louis Kaestner, Nucky’s mentor; Paz de la Huerta as Nucky’s girlfriend Lucy; Aleksa Palladino as Angela, Jimmy Darmody’s Bohemian girlfriend and mother of their three-year-old son; Paul Sparks as Mickey Doyle; Anthony Laciura as Eddie Kessler; and Gretchen Mol as Gillian, a local showgirl with whom Nucky shares a long and complicated history.

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