Don’t get me wrong. “Boardwalk” is never going to be as thematically or sociologically rich as “The Wire,” nor is it as likely to have the kind of visceral impact on its audience. It’s a Hall of the Very Good drama living in the shadow of its Hall of Fame predecessors, and though the start of the fourth season (I’ve seen five episodes) is perhaps the show’s strongest opening to date, it hasn’t suddenly found a higher gear. It is what it is: a handsome, marvelously acted pulp gangster drama, with occasional moments that aspire to (and achieve) something more complex.
But more than any series since “The Wire” — other than perhaps “Wire” creator David Simon’s own “Tremé,” which will conclude its run this December — “Boardwalk Empire” evokes Simon’s vision of a novel for television. It’s a less literary work — it’d be shelved in the crime/mystery section rather than with general fiction — but one that becomes far more satisfying at the conclusion of each season than it is from chapter to chapter.
Read more at Review: HBOs Boardwalk Empire is back to playing by the book for season 4