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For over a third of a century I have had darkish hair, I wear glasses. I watch too much TV. I read a little. I gave up smoking on 1st January 2007. I would rather be in Hawaii. In 2005, I held the title of ``Greatest Sword in all France'' In 1991 I won a the 1V form prize.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Broadwalk Empire season 1


This is the Great Grandparent of the Soprano's. If we imagine Mad Men, to be the distant  father, then there is a line of descent from Nochy, to Tony Soprano. The series finale ends same montages we remember from the early series of the  Sopranos indeed we saw them in the Wire too. A Cousin, from the HBO family. .
As with the Sopranos we know we are never far from  the sea, or the woods. Where Enoch differs from Tony is that Enoch is a politician who became a criminal. Tony was a criminal. Enoch takes oppotunties, but regrets it, and tries to take amends. Tony uses people . Enoch has a kindness in him. As with Don Draper we walk in a more elegant age....

The series, looks great. Everyone is dressed immaculately, the champagne flows, Mr Thompson drives about in a rolls. Our Hero  lives in the Ritz. The opening episode was directed by Scorcese. The only thing, I would criticise is the theme tune. It just seems wrong. It seems out of place. Its too contemporary. A pity as I like the title sequence. Steve Buscemi as Enoch Thompson, walking by the Atlantic city broad walk. So we enter a world of rum runners, Hoodlums and the Charleston.. The opening sequence features a minstrel band, burying John Barleycorn.  Hell the show even recycles old jokes

I am not sure that Enoch Thompson was supposed to be Irish. Enoch and Eli are odd names for an Irish family. Indeed he was based on someone else.

  Our protagonist is a Republican party ``Boss''. The county treasurer of Atlantic city county. Enoch is trying to take advantage of the fortunes to be made, as the US enters enters  Prohibition We are standing on the line between History and fiction. Real people appear on our screens. Meyer Lansky and Charles ``Lucky'' Lucianco. In the later series, Eamon Devalera will loom large off-screen. The Mistress of President Warren Harding, is taken under Enoch's wing, to keep her out of trouble.

f there is one weakness. I wonder if its the racial politics. The relationship between Chalky and Enoch, is perhaps too modern. That is possibly because Enoch having the attitudes of his day, would be too dislikeable The writers of Life on Mars, noted the problem with Gene Hunt. Yet one of the best scenes in the series, was Chalky.( The Wire's Omar) talking about his fathers lynching in postbellum Texas, his father a skilled carpenter had been commissioned to make a set of book shelves, he had done the job too well. Watching Michael 's accent become more ``Suthern'' and thick as he describes his fathers death is one of the series better scenes.

The Commodore, one of the supporting characters, the father of Jimmy. ( Enoch's Thompson sometime protege)  brother died at Vicksburg. The Republicans are still buoyed by their success at the civil war. The Ohio political machine, is making Presidents. There may have been some rather heavy handed political satire intended in the original draft, I hope it is left behind with the pilot.

Kelly MacDonald, moves across the North Channel, to play Margeret Schroeder. A house wife, married to a violent never do well. She comes to Enoch, looking for work for her German husband. An abusive man. She catches the eye of our hero. Kelly MacDonald, is the wide eyed and meek innocent, who through Enoch grows. The two share a common loss. Perhaps the most horrible loss, one can imagine. Enoch, tries to save her.

I would put a weakness in the series antagonist. The Prohibition agent. Who seems, to have almost no redeeming qualities. We see him murder someone in the mist of a religious service. Agent Nelson  is on the surface a straight arrow. A patriot and  religious, and yet we see him, fornicate and drink. His letters to his wife end with details about letting the water run. The character seems to be inconsistent. He returns the money, he withheld from Jimmy's son. He refuses to help his childless wife, he murders a fellow agent, in front of a Black church, Hiding behind his Gun and badge.

I like how the series ties a lot of things together, which our protagonists would have seen as connected. Or would have been part of our heroes and heroines lives. If only as newspaper headlines, and small talk   Normally a film about prohibition, ignores the Irish revolution.  The effect of the  temperance movement  and the rise of womens suffrage  again are often ghettoised. Then there is world war 1. Jimmy is a world one veteran, he employs another veteran, a disfigured man Mr Harrow, to further his ends. Jimmy is murderously effective. As someone who went up against the storm of steel would be.  An American viewer, would have noted the Chicago sox scandal.The series clearly has learned . Everything is connected. The WW1 veterans use their skills in bootlegging.  Shooting and stabbing. A marksman uses his sniping skills to settle a score. The newly mobilised women voters, campaign for prohibition. An agent raids a dinner, in which people are arguing over Irish politics.

But the world we know is creeping up on our heroes. The Dance cannot go on forever. The series ends with our leads, listening to the results of the election of 1922, by wireless. Chalky is invited to the party. The women cast their votes. The opportunity will pass. The Government will not be kept down, in the basement of the Post office.

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