TV critic David Bianculli on the second-season finale shocker of 'Boardwalk Empire' and its upcoming third season.
HBO's Boardwalk Empire has taken the country by storm since its debut in 2010 and most recently got fans buzzing about its shocking second-season finale in December.
TV critic for NPR's "Fresh Air" program and associate professor of TV and film at New Jersey's Rowan University, David Bianculli — who Atlantic City Weekly interviewed prior to the start of the HBO drama series' second season — was no exception and reacted similarly to the finale, which saw one of its main characters get killed off.
"I'm still spinning about the way that it ended," Bianculli tells Atlantic City Weekly.
"The ending caught me by surprise even though I know the history to which it's adhering. I thought it was such a bold and dramatic move. You sort of figured the series was going to be about these two characters and then one of them dies suddenly at the end of season two."
Bianculli draws a parallel to one of his other favorite series, also on HBO, Deadwood, where Wild Bill Hickok, one of the key characters initially, was killed off only a few episodes in.
"It's like, oh, now what? That's not what I was expecting. Now, Boardwalk Empire, in season three gets to deal with [Jimmy Darmody's] absence and the ramifications of his murder. It's really going to make a difference."
Actor Michael Pitt's absence, as Jimmy, isn't the only change to the cast for the upcoming third season. It has been reported that Paz de la Huerta also won't be returning as Lucy Danziger.
"Her character had been sort of pushed out by two different primary male characters so she may not have had a central thread to keep going," says Bianculli.
"But her absence from the show is a loss because she was such a good actress and that was such a pathetic part. I mean you felt so sorry for the way that she was stuck in her life."
While the award-winning cast has lost a few key characters, some of which, as in the case with Pitt, caused rumblings of controversy, there have also been some new additions like Bobby Cannavale and Stephen Root of True Blood.
Bianculli welcomes the shakeups.
"I love television that is fluid enough to surprise you and get rid of people and bring other ones in," he says. "Although I'm not usually privy to — or necessarily believe the reasons when they say this person is not coming back [or] that person is not coming back — all you can do is judge what eventually shows up on the screen."
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"I wasn’t the only critic that wrote that there is nothing new on broadcast TV that’s as good as Boardwalk Empire. It used to be that cable wouldn’t counter-program against broadcast TV, but in the last few years they’ve gotten stronger and tougher and more arrogant."
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