End of an Empire

Boardwalk Empire is near the end of its fifth, and reportedly final, season. When it started screening I found myself googling the names of the characters and began making plot predictions.

Like, would the show have a season for each year in a lead-up to a St Valentine's Day Massacre finale? It was in 1929 that six "associates" of Moran's North Side Irish gang were gunned down. So I was disappointed this season jumped forward seven years to 1931 -- although I was heartened to hear mention of Bugs Moran in a recent episode.

As the second season neared the end I reasoned that, as there wasn't a Wikipedia entry for Jimmy Darmody then, Nucky Thompson had nothing to worry about. I also marveled at the longevity of Lucky Luciano.

Gangster history provides rich material for an HBO TV show and, arguably, it is the genre that made the HBO name via The Sopranos in the '90s. Where that show chartered the lives of mobsters in one city, this one followed the intersections of multiple crime gangs in many eastern US cities.

I also think there's something inherently HBO in the Prohibition Era setting because it's an era that surely ends. In the same way the telegraph arrived at Deadwood or the gentrification of Baltimore ended The Wire or winter is coming to Westeros, there's a certain way these shows position their narrative arcs against looming change that I feel adds urgency and appeal to their storytelling.

If history could change one thing about Boardwalk Empire, it would be the music during the introduction each episode. As much as I like the Brian Jonestown Massacre, I can't stand the use of electronic guitar in a show set before the instrument was invented.

Often I found myself wondering which Duke Ellington track might work better to set the world of Boardwalk Empire. Or how they might have a series of covers of a famous track from the era, in the way they memorably changed the intro music for The Wire each season.

Imaginary Forces - Boardwalk Empire from Imaginary Forces on Vimeo.