May 272015

“Boardwalk Empire” is yet another great show from HBO and although it’s not up to par with “The Sopranos,” “Deadwood” or “Game of Thrones,” that standard is hard to meet. That being said, I will say the ensemble cast ranging from Steve Buscemi to Michael Shannon is one of the best and the performances all around, in conjunction with quality writing beginning with Terence Winter, is top notch.



“Boardwalk Empire”
The Complete Series



The Movie
| Special Features | Video Quality | Audio Quality | Overall

Genre(s): Drama, Crime
HBO Home Entertainment | TVMA – 3360 min. – $239.99 | May 19, 2015

Directed by:
Writer(s): Nelson Johnson (book); Terence Winter (created by)
Cast: Steve Buscemi, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Shannon, Shea Whigham, Stephen Graham, Paul Sparks, Gretchen Mol, Jack Huston, Michael Pitt, Dabney Coleman

Episode Commentaries, Featurettes, In-Episode Guides
Digital Copy: Yes
Number of Discs: 20

Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (DTS 5.1), Latin Spanish (DTS 2.0), Castilian Spanish (DTS 2.0)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Latin Spanish, Castilian Spanish (S1-4), Brazilian Portuguese (S1), Dutch (S2-5), Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish
Disc Size: Various
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C

** Click Here to Purchase “Boardwalk Empire” on Blu-ray from

THE MOVIE – 4.5/5

HBO has always produced quality programming and although “Boardwalk Empire” wasn’t quite as good as others like “The Sopranos,” “True Detective” or “Game of Thrones,” it still features an impressive cast and interesting enough story to carry through its five season run. The biggest reason to watch is to finally see Steve Buscemi with a juicy part playing it up as a corrupt politician. Also giving good performances throughout the series are Michael Shannon showing respect for the material (versus Daffy Ducking it up in Premium Rush and, to some extent, Man of Steel) and Kelly Macdonald as a woman Buscemi’s Nucky Thompson takes a liking to.

Here is a breakdown of the five seasons:

Season 1
“Boardwalk Empire”
begins in Atlantic City in 1920. It is the eve of Prohibition, and country treasurer Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (STEVE BUSCEMI) is looking to cash in. As the undisputed “Boss” of Atlantic City, Nucky leads a double life as a politician and bootlegger; Prohibition may have outlawed alcohol, but in Nucky’s world is has opened up highly lucrative opportunities for gangsters and rumrunners looking to provide “liquid gold” for a thirsty nation. In a city defined by notorious backroom politics and vicious power struggles, Nucky must battle with a relentless federal agent (MICHAEL SHANNON), ambitious underlings (MICHAEL PITT), and opportunistic rivals – including Arnold Rothstein (MICHAEL STUHLBARG), Lucky Luciano (VINCENT PIAZZA), and Al Capone (STEPHEN GRAHAM).

Season 2
This season begins in 1921 and in the wake of Prohibition, Enoch “Nucky” Thompson wields ultimate power in “the world’s playground.” After rigging the Atlantic City mayoral election, Nucky and young WWI veteran Jimmy Darmody (MICHAEL PITT) appear to control the city. However, their grip soon begins to unravel as Nucky is arrested for election fraud and members of both his inner circle and family begin to question their allegiances. All the while, mobsters like Arnold Rothstein, Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky (ANATOL YUSEF), and Al Capone wait in the wings, looking for the right opportunity to grab a bigger piece of Nucky’s pie.

Season 3
Atlantic City 1922: The Roaring ‘20s are about to begin in earnest and despite a booming economy, alcohol is scarce and gangster violence is heating up. Amidst this backdrop, Nucky Thompson, whose marriage to Margaret (KELLY MACDONALD) has become a sham after she signed away his highway windfall to the church, faces the challenge of mending old relationships. Nucky also encounters new competition from a hair-trigger gangster who builds a strategic bulkhead between New York and Atlantic City in an effort to siphon off Nucky’s alcohol business. The conflict brings out the best and worst in Nucky as new and familiar faces undergo compelling metamorphoses.

Season 4
Atlantic City, February 1924: Picking up 8 months after the events of season 3, Nucky Thompson is laying low at the end of the Boardwalk after barely surviving an overthrow by gangster Gyp Rosetti (BOBBY CANNAVALE). But the calm will be short-lived, as Nucky faces new challenges, including a clash with a violent Harlem power broker, a battle with his brother Eli (SHEA WHIGHAM) over Eli’s college-age son, and the irresistible lure of lucrative – and perilous – opportunities in Florida.

Season 5
The final season begins in 1931, a full six years after the end of season 4. In stark contrast with the Roaring ‘20s, the country is in the throes of the Great Depression, and with the end of Prohibition in sight, Nucky is looking to legitimize himself by forging alliances with liquor producers. The season also includes flashback scenes of Nucky, Eli, the Commodore, Gillian and others from 1884-1900 – childhood experiences that would shape their relationships and their futures.


This 20-disc set comes in a sturdy box with a thin outer slip cover. Each season is housed in its own HD Keep Case with identical artwork (front and back) of the individual releases. The redemption code for the Digital HD copy is in the first season case.

Season 1 — 4.5/5
Enhanced Viewing Mode
– Each episode receives this picture-in-picture featuring interviews and other bits of info on not only the show but history of the time.

Character Dossiers allows viewers to look at each of the regular characters and their background, gallery of pictures and relationships with other characters (for that particular disc).

Audio Commentaries – ‘Boardwalk Empire’ with Creator/Writer/Executive Producer Terence Winter; ‘Anastasia’ with Winter, Steve Buscemi (Nucky Thompson), and Michael Kenneth Williams (Chalky White); ‘Family Limitation’ with Winter and Writer/Supervising Producer Howard Korder; ‘Hold Me in Paradise’ with Winter and Director Brian Kirk; ‘Paris Green’ with Korder, Director Allen Coulter, and Michael Shannon (Nelson Van Alden); ‘A Return to Normalcy’ with Winter and Director/Writer/Executive Producer Tim Van Patten

Creating the Boardwalk (4:54; HD) – See how the amazing 300-foot Boardwalk set was created to bring Prohibition-era Atlantic City to life.

Speakeasy Tour (24:39; HD) – Get an insider’s tour of some of the famed Prohibition speakeasies in Chicago and New York with cast members from the series.

Atlantic City: The Original Sin City (29:35; HD) – Explore the culture and climate of AC during the roaring ‘20s.

Making “Boardwalk Empire” (19:35; HD) – Step onto the sets in this behind-the-scenes look featuring interviews from the cast and crew.

Season 2 — 4.0/5
Audio Commentaries
– ‘21’ with Creator/Writer/Executive Producer Terence Winter, Director/Writer/Exec Producer Tim Van Patten, and Michael K. Williams (Chalky White); ‘Gimcrack & Bunkim’ with Co-Exec Producer/Writer Howard Korder and Jack Huston (Richard Harrow); ‘Peg of Old’ with Korder, Co-Producer/Writer Steve Karnacki, Director Allen Coulter, and Charlie Cox (Owen Sleater); ‘Two Boards and a Lifeguard’ with Winter, Van Patten, and Steve Buscemi (Nucky Thompson); ‘Under God’s Power She Flourishes’ with Korder, Coulter, and Gretchen Mol (Gillian Darmody); ‘To the Lost’ with Winter and Van Patten

Season Two Promo Spot (1:37; HD)

New Characters (3:35; HD) – Get acquainted with the two new major characters in season two: Owen Sleater and Manny Horvitz.

Updates to the Boardwalk (3:14; HD) – Production Designer Bill Groom, and Creator/Exec Producer Terence Winter discuss the new sets of season two.

The Money Decade (24:33; HD) – Explore the legacy of the 1920s and get an inside look at the styles and trends that made the decade “roar.”

Back to the Boardwalk (14:37; HD) – Here we revisit season one of “Boardwalk Empire” with Creator/Exec Producer Terence Winter with this recap bonus feature.

Living in 1921 – Look back in time and discover the styles, sounds, and events that defined 1921 in this comprehensive, interactive guide. You can look at the history, people, culture, tends and arts.

Secrets of the Past: Storytelling in Episode 11 – Here from the writers, cast members, and crew in this enhanced picture-in-picture feature as they reflect on season two and the pivotal episode.

Season 3 — 4.0/5
Boardwalk Chronicle
is a picture-in-picture feature, available for all episodes, that displays what characters are on screen, the location and newsreel featurettes.

Audio Commentaries – ‘Resolution’ with Creator/Writer/Exec Producer Terence Winter, Director/Exec Producer Tim Van Patten, Steve Buscemi (Nucky Thompson), and Jack Huston (Richard Harrow); ‘You’d be Surprised’ with Exec Producer/Writer Howard Korder, Michael Stuhlbarg (Arnold Rothstein), Bobby Cannavale (Gyp Rosetti), and Stephen DeRosa (Eddie Cantor); ‘Sunday Best’ with Korder, Director Allen Coulter, Shea Whigham (Eli Thompson), and Gretchen Mol (Gillian Darmody); ‘The Pony’ with Winter, Michael Shannon (Nelson Van Alden), Charlie Cox (Owen Sleater), and Meg Chambers Steedle (Ellie Kent); ‘Two Imposters’ with Korder, Coulter, Buscemi, and Michael Kenneth Williams (Chalky White); ‘Margate Sands’ with Winter, Van Patten, Cannavale, and Chris Caldovino (Tonino)

Distilling Season 2 (14:22; HD) is a look back of the season two.

“Boardwalk Empire”: Director’s Chair (29:56; HD) – Hear “Boardwalk Empire” directors Tim Van Patten and Allen Coulter break down key scenes from season three, and how they approach taking the series from script to the screen.

American Empires – Prohibition did little to quench the country’s thirst for alcohol, and proved to be a boon to the era’s gangsters. In this featurette you learn more about these gangsters, their influence, and their systems of distribution in this interactive compendium.

Newsreels – Explore some of the real-world events and historical figures that inspired the third season spread across 24 featurettes.

New Characters (4:57; HD) – Meet the new faces of season three: Gyp Rosetti, Billie Kent, Gaston Means, Dean O’Banian, and Benny Siegel.

Scorsese on Season 3 (4:34; HD) – Martin Scorsese provides a detailed perspective on the third season.

Season 4 — 4.0/5
Boardwalk Chronicle
is a picture-in-picture feature, available for all episodes, that displays what characters are on screen, the location and newsreel featurettes.

Audio Commentaries – ‘New York Sour’ with Exec Producer/Writer Howard Korder, Exec Producer/Director Tim Van Patten, and Steve Buscemi (Nucky Thompson); ‘All In’ with Creator/Exec Producer/Writer Terence Winter, Writer David Matthews, Director Ed Bianchi, and Michael Stuhlbarg (Arnold Rothstein); ‘Erlkonig’ with Korder, Van Patten, Anthony Laciura (Eddie Kessler), Brian Geraghty (Agent Knox) and Gretchen Mol (Gillian Darmody); ‘The Old Ship of Zion’ with Korder, Erik LaRay Harvey (Dunn Purnsley), Michael Kennth Williams (Chalky White), and Margot Bringham (Daughter Maitland); ‘Havre De Grace’ with Korder, Director Allen Coulter, Williams, and Bingham; ‘Farewell Daddy Blues’ with Winter, Van Patten and Buscemi

PaleyFest: Made in NY “Boardwalk Empire” Panel (26:08; HD) – A Q& A with Creator/Exec Producer/Writer Terence Winter and cast members after a screening of Episode 5.

The Onyx Club: A Step Back in Time (9:12; HD) – This is a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of, and historical inspiration for the massive new set in Season 4 – The Onyx Club.

Becoming Harrow (7:40; HD) are a set of interviews with Jack Huston on the origins, story arc and evolution of his character, Richard Harrow.

New Characters (5:55; HD) – Meet the new characters introduced in season four: Dr. Valentin Narcisse, Roy Phillips, Agent Knox, Sally Wheer, Frank and Ralph Capone and Daughter Maitland.

Scouting the Boardwalk (23:10; HD) – Hear how the Locations Manager finds the unique buildings and neighborhoods that bring the 1920s to life in each episode.

Season 3: Revisited (14:32; HD) – Get reacquainted with season 3 recap with Terence Winter.

Season 5 — 2.5/5
Audio Commentaries
– ‘Golden Days for Boys and Girls’ with Exec Producer/Writer Howard Korder, Exec Producer/Director Tim Van Patten and Steve Buscemi (Nucky Thompson); ‘Cuanto’ with Creator/Exec Producer/Writer Terence Winter, Korder, Buscemi and Vincent Piazza (Lucky Luciano); ‘Friendless Child’ with Director Allen Coulter, Michael Zegen (Benny Siegel) and Ben Rosenfield (William Thompson); ‘Eldorado’ with Winter, Korder, Van Patten; ‘Eldorado’ with Winter, Korder, Van Patten and Buscemi

Scouting the Boardwalk (18:38; HD) – Hear how the Location Managers find the unique buildings and neighborhoods that being each episode to life.

The Final Shot: A Farewell to “Boardwalk Empire” (29:21; HD)
– A look back with the cast and crew as they discuss the origins of the show, their favorite moments and more.

Anatomy of a Hit (8:11; HD) – Creator/Exec Producer/Writer Terence Winter, Exec Producer/Director Tim Van Patten and Exec Prod/Writer Hoard Korder discuss the cinematography for some of the series’ most murderous hits.

Building the Boardwalk (3:42; HD) – Exec Producer/Director Tim Van Patten and crew discuss how the Atlantic City boardwalk was brought to life.

Shooting the Series (5:06; HD) – Learn how the look of the series was developed through conversations with Directors of Photography Jonathan Freeman and Bill Coleman.

Designing the Series (4:27; HD) – Production Designer Bill Groom and Set Decorator Carol Silverman discuss their process and the challenges faced in creating the authentic look of the series.

Visual Effects (8:29; HD) – Whether brining to life Atlantic City or Havana, Cuba, Visual Effects Supervisor Lesley Robson-Foster illustrates the creation of some of the show’s award-winning visual effects.

VIDEO – 4.5/5

HBO releases “Boardwalk Empire” onto Blu-ray presented in its original televised 1.78 widescreen aspect ratio and a 1080p high-definition transfer. The picture to no surprise looks good showcasing sharp details throughout the series while colors seem to have a more bronze hue though the splashes of color are fairly vibrant. It’s not the most pristine of transfers but still looks nice.

AUDIO – 4.5/5

Each episode comes with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track and all in all sounds great. Dialogue levels sound crisp and clear and although I can’t say it’s the most dynamic lossless track I’ve come across, even by TV standards, with ambient noises kept to a minimal, the audio effects (like gunshots) provide decent depth as does the wonderful score/soundtrack. Like the video, I can’t quite say it’s amazing yet when you compare it with other TV on Blu-ray releases, it’s still impressive.

OVERALL – 4.5/5

Overall, “Boardwalk Empire” is yet another great show from HBO and although it’s not up to par with “The Sopranos,” “Deadwood” or “Game of Thrones,” that standard is hard to meet. That being said, I will say the ensemble cast ranging from Steve Buscemi to Michael Shannon is one of the best and the performances all around, in conjunction with quality writing beginning with Terence Winter, is top notch. This Complete Series Blu-ray release by HBO Home Entertainment is nice and far more condensed versus all five seasons for those with limited bookshelf space. The bonus disc contains about an hour’s worth of new material highlighted by a 30-minut retrospective featurette.


Published: 05/27/2015






Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.

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