Staff Reviews

Briefly Noted: Boardwalk Empire

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Crammed with corrupt cops, nymphish flappers, black market violence, and prunish, prudish temperance activists,  HBO's latest drama has lots for a libertarian to like. Boardwalk Empire follows the rise of Enoch "Nucky" Thompson, a character loosely based on Enoch Johnson, the bootlegger and mobster who ran Atlantic City during Prohibition.

The corruption that comes with forbidden vice is illustrated well. We see city treasurer Thompson (played deftly by Steve Buscemi), the city's mayor, police chief, and other officials gather on the eve of the Volstead Act taking effect. They're discussing not how to enforce the alcohol ban but how to keep the boardwalk well-liquored, assigning responsibility for distributing the first underground shipment of whiskey.

The series was created by Emmy-winning Sopranos writer Terrence Winter and is produced by Hollywood deity Martin Scorsese, who also directed the first episode. HBO has already announced it will order a second season.