The loss of "Mad Men" inflicted quite a Sunday night sting, but it has quickly been replaced for the Duchess by the terrific "Boardwalk Empire." "Boardwalk Empire" is a period piece, set in the Prohibition Era at the dawn of the Jazz Age. It's historical, complex, and lushly produced. And much like a fine wine, of which we may enjoy copious amounts in these freewheeling days, it too improves with age.
Happily "Boardwalk Empire" provides far, far more eye candy that "Mad Men" too, at least for the Duchess! The gorgeous Michael Pitt plays Jimmy Darmody, an intense aspiring gangster who has returned from the first World War with more than a handful of chilling stories to tell. Frankly were Mr. Pitt to keystone any television show the Duchess would stake out a front row seat.
Jimmy Darmody is the former protege of Nucky Thompson, the ruling don of all Atlantic City, whose tinny commands bring women to their knees and men to their mothers. Steve Buscemi is somewhat surprisingly cast as Nucky (a lethal, powerful lothario), but viewers are no worse for the wear.
Jimmy Darmody dispatches to Chicago, aided by Al Capone (the terrific Stephen Graham), to mark his own territory and establish dominance in his own right, outside the shadow of Nucky Thompson. Nucky has his hands full in Atlantic City anyway, what with his live-in girlfriend (Paz de la Huerta) nagging him over his affair with Irish widow Margaret Schroeder (the quietly alluring Kelly MacDonald, of "Gosford Park" fame), and with lawman Nelson Van Alden forever at his heels.
The masochistic Van Alden
The temptress Margaret Schroeder
The nudist (thank God) Lucky Luciano
The Duchess already despairs the season finale of "Boardwalk Empire", still weeks away. Though filmed primarily in Brooklyn (what's new?) it lacks hipness and cool, two things the Duchess will never understand. What it lacks in vibe, it more than makes up for in character development and plotline, and even putting that to one side the introduction of Jack Huston as the literally wartorn sharpshooter Richard Harrow is enough to engender a DIRECTV season pass.