There are very few programs on television these days that are worth watching, let alone staying at home for. That being said, only dinosaurs stay at home specifically to watch something on television these days, as every program is recordable using a mediabox or otherwise watchable or downloadable on the internet. The amount of mind-numbing series is great and almost unavoidable, as it proves hard not to ‘keep up with the Kardashians’ or other shallow creatures that appear on television and have no identifiable purpose. No identifiable purpose in appearing on television or being on this planet.
Onwards to things on TV that are worth watching. Series in this case.
Everyone knows the modern classics such as The Sopranos and The Wire (although I have to admit The Wire doesn’t appeal to me as it does to others), and more recent examples such as Arrested Development, Breaking Bad, Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire. The final episode of the latter mentioned series aired on 11 December 2011 in the United States, and was swiftly downloaded by yours truly (arrest me) and watched the night after along with the second to last episode of the series. After roughly two hours of Atlantic City chronicles, I have to say that I was slightly disappointed.
First of all, of course, the second season wasn’t as good as the first. It rarely happens that this is the case, with series or with movies, one iconic example being Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which was a far better movie than the preceding one (if you know of more and/or better examples: share your infinite wisdom in the comments). The second season of Boardwalk Empire had to deal with the eternal curse that any follow-up season or movie faces: outdoing the earlier part(s). Hence, where the first season of Boardwalk Empire introduced its characters nicely, slowly evolved convincing story lines, and left enough of a cliffhanger for the second season, the second season had more speedy story lines which often disolved as fast as they has surfaced.
The creators of the series killed an important part of the charm of the series this way, as the hour long episodes of the first season watched like a short movie and saw non-forced and gradual story and character development. The second series saw its characters make surprising decisions and moves, which often contrasted their character as it was portrayed earlier on in the series. The biggest example being Nucky shooting Jimmy at the end of season two. Sure, Nucky is a crook. And arguably one with very little conscience, but part of his charm was that he was physically distanced from the rough stuff like beatings and killings. And for that matter, Jimmy is the first person he kills, but this doesn’t show in his attitude towards Margaret on the morning of the day after. The second example is formed by the unfolding of Jimmy’s story. He left Princeton and joined the army because of his meddling mother. After busting up a teacher that had misinterpreted her flirting, Jimmy and his mother were involved in incestuous behaviour, causing Jimmy to decide to be sent of to the European warzones of World War I. Of course the relationship of Jimmy and his mother throughout the series can be described as being too close, but wouldn’t the pre-dating incestuous experience have driven a wedge between them? Strangely and inexplicably, it didn’t, and Jimmy and his mother remained to be that creepy kind of close.
Lastly, we witnessed the sudden and forced disappearance of a range of characters from the series. In the last two episodes, we said goodbye to Angela, Nelson van Alden, the Commodore and other peripheral characters such as Jim Neary. Somewhat in a rush, to say the least, which is a bit of a pity. I for one am not sure whether season three of the series, which is said to be in development, will be as attractive as the prior two seasons after this finale. Others seem to agree with me on this, as the grade that the twelfth episode of season two received on IMDB is not all that high. The series might just have lost too many determining characters, and Nucky might have undergone a character development for the worse. Answers and explanations by Terence Winter, the show runner, can be found here.
A trailer of the season two finale can be seen below: