Boardwalk Empire: Season 1, Episode 12

A Return to Normalcy (5 Dec. 2010)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | History
8.7
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Ratings: 8.7/10 from 768 users  
Reviews: 2 user | 4 critic

Nucky and Atlantic City brace for change on Election Day; Torrio brokers a deal between two nemeses, with far-reaching consequences; Jimmy ponders his future, as do Margaret, Agent Van ... See full summary »

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(as Tim Van Patten)

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(created by), , 2 more credits »
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Chalky White (as Michael Kenneth Williams)
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Mickey Doyle (credit only)
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Storyline

Nucky and Atlantic City brace for change on Election Day; Torrio brokers a deal between two nemeses, with far-reaching consequences; Jimmy ponders his future, as do Margaret, Agent Van Alden and Eli. Written by HBO Publicity

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama | History

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Release Date:

5 December 2010 (USA)  »

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1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to the postcard from Mary, the address for James and Angela Darmody is 4313 North California Avenue. See more »

Goofs

The alto saxophonist in the jazz band at the election party at the end of the last episode of the first season is playing a Selmer Mark VI (or later) model saxophone. Selmer did not release this particular model until 1954. The neck with the Selmer "S" which this model is clearly visible in a shot when the election results are being announced. This was the first saxophone released by Selmer which had the "S" on the neck. See more »

Quotes

Enoch 'Nucky' Thompson: We all need to decide for ourselves how much sin we can live with.
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Soundtracks

My Old Kentucky Home
(uncredited)
Written by Stephen Foster
Performed by Belgian Band Organ
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User Reviews

Season 1: Lacks some of the finer touches at times but still a really great drama series with a lot going on
15 February 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Boardwalk Empire came to the UK in the same way it came to the US – as a big deal. A major new series from HBO, lots of big names involved, lots of money spent on it and lots of good signs in terms of the quality of the product. And it is a big deal. The sets are as huge as they are impressive, the story takes in characters big and small across politics and gangs and covers from Atlantic City to Chicago and the viewer is in no doubt that what is playing out is indeed a "big deal".

And perhaps this is rightly so because the production is great and the whole season demands to be watched and makes it easy to become engaged in it. It does start slow but, like other great shows, once you start getting into the characters you find that every scene is doing something and all the moving parts are part of a bigger picture even if how they all fit together is not all immediately evident at the time of watching. It has a grandness to it and I found myself enjoying the vast majority of it, although I will acknowledge that some of it does move quite slowly.

I think part of the reason it feels slow at times is that the one area where I think season 2 can improve things is to work more on the smaller details. It does feel like in the scale of the production that the finer points of scripting and delivering the characters has been secondary whereas in The Sopranos (for example) we were very tightly focused onto Tony's character as well as the plots associated with his family and business – so even small scenes informed us about who he was. Here we have elements of that but it isn't "in" the material in the way the sets and costumes are. We do get character development and moments where we understand more about who people are or why they are who they are, but they are distinct moments rather than an understanding ingrained into every aspect of the writing. However, to me this really is one of the few areas it can improve and it would also help in the pacing side too.

Otherwise though it is a great show, even if it perhaps is a bit too self-aware of how great it is at times, holding itself a little bit too "worthy". The cast get caught up in this a little bit but mostly they are working very well with the material and producing strong performances and showing they are able to do whatever the scripts ask, whether it is plot-driven or more character driven. Buscemi is great. He has made a career out of being "funny looking" but here he is a great character and one that he wisely keeps the audience wondering how we should feel about him. He is sympathetic and charming but at the same time he is manipulative and happy to keep clean hands while others do his bidding and lose their souls in the process. Matching him is Macdonald. She has links to Carmela Soprano as she considers what she is becoming and how she can justify it, but she makes the character her own with so much going on as she develops through the season, she is great and they make for a great pair to build the show off. Pitt took me a minute to accept but his performance reflects the more folded-in character he plays and he does it well. Shannon's is an odd character to say the least but he plays it very well even if I think the material for him jumped around from extremes a bit too much. The support has quality in depth from Graham to Mol and many familiar faces from other HBO productions. Williams may never shake off the ghost of Omar, but he is good here too.

Boardwalk Empire is a big, worthy show – which is a real strength because it looks great, but it also works against it since it does rather carry itself with this knowledge while also neglecting the finer detail at times. That said it does deliver the goods in terms of strong characters, a strong plot and plenty going on. I really enjoyed season 1 and there is a lot of potential for the show to get better still in the second season – not by getting "bigger" but my looking inwards to its strengths and making the smaller touches in every scene be just as important as the bigger plot points.


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