• Network: HBO
  • Series Premiere Date: Sep 19, 2010
Season #: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

Universal acclaim - based on 31 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Alan Sepinwall
    As with the best of these broad canvas series, the players and their allegiances become clear within an episode or two. And from that point on, Boardwalk Empire becomes everything that HBO (and I) had hoped for it.
  2. 100
    They've richly re-created a Roaring '20s world on the edge of an ocean and a precipice, and populated it with a riveting rogues gallery.
  3. In so many ways, it's as good as television gets.
  4. Boardwalk Empire has everything you'd expect in an HBO drama--sharply drawn characters, large-scale stories intercut with intimate moments and a sense that you couldn't find something like it anywhere else on the guide. It's maybe the best new show HBO has launched in several years.
  5. People Weekly
    Reviewed by: Tom Gliatto
    The show is gorgeously produced and spectacularly violent but its success depends chiefly on Buscemi....A brilliant, brutally funny performance. [20 Sep 2010, p.51]
  6. 100
    From its breathtaking cinematography to its meticulous period costumes to its smart, snappy dialogue to its talented cast, Boardwalk Empire presents a TV program that's so polished and beautifully executed, each episode feels as rich and memorable as its own little Scorsese film.
  7. 100
    The characters are unforgettable, and the history, of course, is more entertaining than fiction. The filming of Boardwalk Empire just may be more decadent than the decadence it's celebrating. It's not TV, and it's not really HBO. It's an event, not to be missed.
  8. Watching HBO's new Boardwalk Empire is like sitting in your favorite tavern and hearing someone say, "Drinks are on the house." Friends, it doesn't get much better.
  9. Boardwalk Empire has been the glittering light at the end of HBO's tunnel for so long now that you might wonder if it--or any other show--could possibly live up to the hype. Amazingly, it does.
  10. There's a vibrancy to the stories in each Boardwalk Empire episode. With echoes of the gangland mentality of "The Sopranos" and the frontier recklessness of "Deadwood," HBO seems to have found in Boardwalk Empire a fertile, sprawling new franchise series.
  11. 100
    This instantly captivating period piece feels thrillingly modern as it captures with remarkable detail a chaotic time of invention and re-invention, of social progress and prosperity upstaged by the gaudy corruption and jazzy debauchery of the Prohibition era.
  12. Frankly, this complex and entertaining show is the kind of things that the networks--cable and broadcast--just don't make anymore: It's a grand, handsome saga about a whole slice of society, from shop clerks and showgirls to fixers and Feds.
  13. Reviewed by: Verne Gay
    The most entertaining--and beautiful--new series on TV this fall.
  14. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    Expectations were certainly sky-high for Boardwalk, but the producers have risen to meet them--in a series that grows richer, deeper and more absorbing with each of the six episodes previewed.
  15. By the end of the opener, a web of intriguing plot lines (and their treacherous overtones) are firmly in place. As ensuing episodes unfold, the story finds its beating heart as the characters substantially deepen.
  16. 90
    The show isn't easy to warm up to, to be honest; it's draped in--and at times stifled by--meticulous period detail and too-perfect lighting, especially in Scorsese's premiere. But in episode two, the characters and the script begin to prevail, and the drama becomes more emotionally distinct and fascinating.
  17. 90
    Writer Terence Winter (The Sopranos) delivers the most exciting new series in recent history with Boardwalk Empire, a sweeping Prohibition gangster saga that redefines the boundaries of television storytelling.
  18. 90
    Boardwalk Empire plays much like Sopranos: The Roots, a malignantly alluring exploration of the emergence of organized crime in the United States. A checkerboard of hazy intrigue and garish violence, of ruthless ambition and easy sexuality, it's an epic tale told darkly and well.
  19. Reviewed by: James Poniewozik
    Like a good whiskey, it's rough and smooth in all the right ways. By a few episodes in, you'll want to order it by the case.
  20. What Buscemi brings to this production is his great gift for channeling neurotic self-consciousness into a man of action. He may fret about retaining his empire, but you believe Nucky Thompson is a lord of venality, right down to his immaculate spats.
  21. Beautifully rendered as the series is, there's a high-concept conflation of the two shows 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.
  22. For some viewers, even fans of smart, high-quality TV, there may come a point when too many dark, layered television series become just as tiresome as too many look-alike procedurals. We haven't yet reached that point with Boardwalk Empire, but some episodes are more admirable than enjoyable.
  23. 80
    The first six episodes (which I've watched, dutifully at times) draw you in but sometimes feel overstuffed, overproduced and weirdly gauzy where the series means to be an exercise in crisp, razor-sharp filmmaking.
  24. 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.
  25. 75
    Yes, there is a lot to love here, but too often the bad guys are standard-issue gangsters--while the women are one dimensional, naked, needy and greedy.
  26. 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.
  27. 70
    [The first three episodes] contain no evidence that it'll rival or exceed season four, an intricately wrought and unexpectedly spare and bluesy batch of hours whose quality exceeded anything that Terence Winter's gangster saga had given us in seasons one through three.
  28. The series gets better and more engrossing with time, but it takes more than a few episodes for it to clear its throat, establish its bona fides and fall into storytelling stride.
  29. 63
    For all the talk about the expense of recreating the boardwalk for the show, Atlantic City isn't a character the way it could or should be; most of the action takes place in back alleys and hotel rooms.
  30. 60
    The action is set to move to gangster playgrounds like New York and Chicago, and introduce some dangerous romantic entanglements. If Boardwalk Empire doesn't begin in the most thought-provoking manner, its multiple, ready-to-expand stories suggest many avenues to explore.
  31. 60
    It's a big production-the first episode alone cost nearly twenty million dollars-and it looks authentic in a way that, paradoxically, seems lifeless. You're constantly aware that you're watching a period piece, albeit one with some vivid scenes and interesting details.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 668 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 24 out of 668
  1. Sep 22, 2010
    As a fan of the mafia film genre I would say that Boardwalk Empire does not disapoint. The sets, cast and costume design give the series suchAs a fan of the mafia film genre I would say that Boardwalk Empire does not disapoint. The sets, cast and costume design give the series such an authentic look and feel. I would say that we are only seeing the beginning of what will be a historic series. Full Review »
  2. Sep 20, 2010
    Colossal disappointment. Reeks of artificiality and purposelessness from its Greenpoint Disneyland set construction to its dry cleaned,Colossal disappointment. Reeks of artificiality and purposelessness from its Greenpoint Disneyland set construction to its dry cleaned, unlived-in costumes, the actors look as if they are desperately unclear on not only the period but their lines. Buscemi is far more miscast than anything Giamatti was accused of in John Adams. Bizarre opening titles with music that seems to be the last survivor of a thousand meetings. And finally, Scorcese's direction looked more like something a film student fan would present to that director (as a clumsy hommage) than the work of the master himself. Those preposterous and pointless angles and abortive tracking shots! Really, I was shocked and I'm not someone who lives to write nasty appraisals in venues like this. But I was driven to make an exception for this, I and every one of my friends (6 people) who watched it with me thought exactly the same thing.
    We are MYSTIFIED at the professional critical score reflected here at Metacritic.
    Full Review »
  3. Dec 8, 2010
    I am amazed at these poor reviews. Boardwalk Empire is one of the best shows I have ever seen in my life. And when I look at their dates, mostI am amazed at these poor reviews. Boardwalk Empire is one of the best shows I have ever seen in my life. And when I look at their dates, most are right after the FIRST episode. How can you even write a review when you have seen ONE HOUR OUT OF TWELVE? This is insane. Boardwalk Empire is one of the best acted shows of all time. Right up there with Breaking Bad. And although some episodes are slower then others, the season overall was filled with amazing moments. Take the character Richard Harrow for instance. Who was a sniper in World War 1, and survived a rifle round to the face... left completely disfigured, and now wears a tin mask over half of his face and can barely talk. All of his twitched and body language seem so believable... You would think the actor portraying him was actually missing part of his face. The only thing I can compare it to is Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight... The Joker felt so real, and so scary... because Heath had so many tiny details he added, like how he licked his lips all the time... And Richard Harrow is obviously a VERY different character, but the same amount of detail went into his performance, and he is only a minor character.

    Boardwalk Empire is amazing, And all of these bad reviews were mostly done after the very first episode... So please ignore all the idiots.. You cannot judge an entire season ON ONE EPISODE.
    Full Review »