HBO has a history of producing high-quality television shows. Deadwood, Sopranos, Band of Brothers, Game of Thrones, Rome...I could keep going, but you get the point. Honestly, if I could subscribe ONLY to HBO, I probably wouldn't have cancelled my satellite TV (that and AMC; I also love Mad Men and Breaking Bad).
But "Boardwalk Empire" is, in my opinion, the best HBO show in years. Don't get me wrong: I really loved the first season of "Game of Thrones". But it wasn't a new story to me (I've read and loved all five of George R R Martin's books). "Boardwalk Empire" is truly awesome.
It's Atlantic City, 1920. The US government has just passed a bill prohibiting the sale of alcohol, women are on the cusp of getting the vote, and cities are home to powerful crime syndicates, controlling everything.
The show stars Steve Buscemi as Enoch "Nucky" Thompson, the treasurer of 1920's Atlantic City (and by "treasurer", I mean crime boss). Steve Buscemi has basically been in everything. I mean everything. The man has been in 125 different movies and TV shows (according to IMDB) since 1985. I've never been a huge Buscemi fan, but his Nucky Thompson is brilliant: devious but loyal, cold but generous. He's a gentleman-crime boss for a more civilized time (well, more civilized in the sense that people wore hats and dressed to the nines when out on the town).
The cast of characters includes Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, and Arnold Rothstein, as well as fictional characters such as Jimmy Darmody and Margaret Schroeder (both of whom were composites of people who actually lived and interacted with the real Nucky Thompson).
Buscemi is supported by a fantastic group of actors, including the incredible Kelly Macdonald (playing the widow Margaret Schroeder). Mrs. Schroeder is a strong, determined, and very likable character.
If you haven't yet done so, do yourself a favour and watch Season 1 of Boardwalk Empire. The season 2 premiere is this Sunday, September 25 on HBO.