I review Boardwalk Empire (1/x)

On HBO. You've heard of it. Steve Buscemi is in it. Martin Scorcese directs. Scorsese and Mark Wahlberg are executive producers. Should be good, right?

About Boardwalk Empire I say, “Meh.” After three episodes, I haven’t seen a real female character, but I have seen a lot of adolescent male fantasy and blowjobs. I say, “Meh.”

I mean, for the most part, you can say that about the Venture Brothers, except for the blowjobs. But the Venture Brothers is a cartoon.

Compare Boardwalk Empire to something like Deadwood and you’ll see what I mean. By this time, Deadwood has many real female characters, and it is set in a time when women had even fewer rights and opportunities than they did in the 1920s.

Scorcese’s direction is great. Buscemi is great in the lead. The cinematography is great. But the script is just: “Meh.”


All of the women are in love with the men. The men have all the power and each has at least one woman in love with him, usually two or three.

This is essentially a harem anime.

Dear God I want to be Tenchi Muyo so bad.

By the time we get to episode Four, the female characters are:

1) A profoundly stupid chorus dancer/prostitute.

When she speaks up at dinner and then is challenged to state her view of the League of Nations she doesn’t know what it is, and then says, “But Paris sounds swell. Will you take me there, Daddy?”

Maybe not the most sexist character ever written, but we are getting close to it.

2) A way-too-naive irish waif who Steve Buscemi rescued from her big, menacing, abusive, alcoholic husband by framing him for murder and then having him killed. She’s a single mother raising her children, but her story does not exist except in ways that it affects Steve Buscemi’s character’s storyline. She will be the good girl that Buscemi eventually marries.

3) Another beautiful chorus girl, who performs in the nude. So, the 1921 equivalent of the best looking stripper, aka the whore with a heart of gold.

She falls in love with one of the male leads for no reason at all. He follows her around for 3 days, then they talk once. They each say 20 words. Then she grabs his dick. This is basically porn. There is only a thin veil of story cast on top of it.

There are some more equally bad female characters I’ll talk about later.

Female characters aside, let’s look at this weird section of dialogue and what it tells us about the thoughts that went in to making this show.

The Senator has just come to visit Steve Buscemi, who plays the Treasurer of Atlantic City. The Senator has just inferred that he will soon be President, and that he can order Buscemi around any way he wants. Then he decides he wants to change his drink, so he says:

I’m through with this champagne!

What’s your pleasure, senator?

I’ll have a Pimm’s Cup.

I’m sorry, we have no Pimm’s Cup tonight.

For God’s sake, why not?

Pimm’s Cup?

I should have seen this coming when I found out Mark Wahlberg was an executive producer.

Remember when this was who Mark Wahlberg was?

I can imagine Mark Wahlberg coming across the Wikipedia entry for Pimm’s Cup, which is a jello-shot-type alcoholic drink that people used to drink back then, and just loling about the fact that a Pimm’s Cup sounds just like the phrase “a pimp’s cup”, and then demanding that it be inserted into the script at least three times.

Now he works with this guy.

Ever notice how people just casually call Martin Scorcese “Marty”, just to prove to you that they are close enough to Martin Scorcese that they can casually drop his childhood nickname in public? Well, I’m doing that, and I’ve never even MET him.

Anyways. MARKY MARK meets with MARTY SCORCESE across the Executive Producer’s table:

Pimp’s cup! Pimp’s cup! Pimp’s cup! Three times, Scorcese!

What is this? I don’t even –

MARKY MARK (rapping)
Yo! It’s about that time
To bring forth the rhythm and the rhyme

Please, not again, Mark.

MARKY MARK (rapping)
Marky Mark and I’m here to move you
Rhymes will groove you
And I’m here to prove to you
That we can party on the positive side
And pump positive vibes
So come along for the ride

I’m with you, Mark. Please, get off the table and put your shirt back on.

MARKY MARK(rapping)
Making you feel the rhythm is my occupation
So feel the vibration

(MARKY MARK jumps off the table and tackles MARTY SCORCESE.)

Come on come on
Feel it feel it
Feel the vibration

I feel it all through my chest, Mark. Please, I can’t sit up.

MARKY MARK (rapping)
It’s such a good vibration
It’s such a sweet sensation
It’s such a good vibration
It’s such a sweet sensation

I can’t breathe.

MARKY MARK (rapping)
Donnie D break it down

There’s another one of the Funky Bunch in here?

DONNY D (rapping)
Donnie D’s on the back up

Dear God.

DONNY D (rapping)
Drug free, so put the crack up
No need for speed
I’m the anti D-R-U-G-G-I-E my
Body is healthy

Good for Ye
Donny D
We’re all real Funky Bunchers
Drug pushers are just monkey punchers
Don’t you agree, Donny D?

DONNY D (rapping)
My rhymes make me wealthy
And the Funky Bunch helps me
To bring you a show with no intoxication
Come on feel the vibration

I feel it, Donny D. I feel the vibration.

Three times, Mark. He’ll say it three times. Donny, can you call an ambulance?

Ok, you can stand up then. Donny D, let him go.

Pimm’s cup it is! But that’s the only decision you get to make as executive producer!

Yahyee! Pimp’s cup it is.

(MARKY MARK and DONNY D dance out.)

I knew emailing him that link would work in my favor.



I review the Venture Brothers

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