TV Review: HBO's 'Boardwalk Empire'

HBO’s prohibition-era drama Boardwalk Empire will bow this Sunday, Sept. 19 at 9 p.m. The following are reviews from TV critics around the Web, compiled by B&C:

“This is, quite simply, television at its finest, occupying a sweet spot that — for all the able competition — still remains unique to HBO: An expensive, explicit, character-driven program, tackling material no broadcast network or movie studio would dare touch.” — Brian Lowry, Variety

“The show is gorgeous to behold, even in the moments where you’d rather look away. It’s the most purely — and impurely — enjoyable storytelling HBO has delivered in ages, like a movie that you never want to end.” — Matt Roush, TV Guide

“What bodes well for Boardwalk as a weekly endeavor is that its Scorsese-fancy pilot is the weakest (the showiest, the slowest) of the episodes I’ve seen. The production becomes more sleek, emotionally complex, and sly in its subsequent hours.” — Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly

“Beautifully rendered as the series is, there’s a high-concept conflation…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.” — Andrew Wallenstein, The Hollywood Reporter 

“Scorsese’s attention to detail…is lavish and seems limitless. If only more care had been spent on the characters. Buscemi is the only big-name actor associated with this cast, and though he seems to be having a great time strutting onscreen, most of the others aren’t up to sharing the screen with him.” — Mark A. Perigard, Boston Herald

“It’s not the greatest thing since sliced bread but rather a well-made sort of sliced bread, a thing you have had before but prepared with quality ingredients by bakers who know their business.” — Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times

“The quality of this smartly written series, so remarkable in its period detail, rich in splendid performances—particularly Michael Shannon as the obsessed federal agent Nelson Van Alden, and Mr. Wigham as Elias Thompson, Nucky’s semimaniacal brother—is in no dispute either. “Boardwalk Empire” has all the makings of a triumph for HBO—the addictive kind.” — Dorothy Rabinowitz, The Wall Street Journal

See what other TV reviews are coming up… Click here for B&C’s complete 2010 Fall Premiere Schedule.