Of Prohibition, Paddy’s day, Leprechauns and the AOH

After watching the first 6 episodes of the excellent Boardwalk Empire (Sky Atlantic, Saturday 9pm) a few well established truisms are reassurignly reinforced.

Firstly, just about everybody can do (and does) an Oirish accent but just about no one can do an Irish one. Secondly, given that the Irish do so love a drink, it was not very clever to impose Prohibition on a population so heavily represented by our goodselves. Thirdly, just as in fashion and style the Italians do crime so much better than we do.

The show, set in Atlantic City in 1920, is, apparently, not historically accurate. But the throwing in of well-known Italian mob leaders not only makes you acutely aware of who the winners are going to be in the unfolding turf wars but also adds to the feeling of authenticity – and although its a bit of puzzler why Executive Producer Martin Scorsese had to go all the way to Kirby to find a suitable Al Capone – Stephen Graham, as the diminutive Daddy of all Godfathers is excellent.

The central character is Irish American Nucky (appropriately pronounced Nookie) Thompson, played by Steve Buscemi a veteran of the Sopranos (both shows were created by Terence Winter) and like James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, he plays the part brilliantly and convincingly as he smoothly accomodates public condemnation of the demon drink whilst making a hefty profit from its distribution.

Cute-hoorism clearly runs thickly in the Irish blood.

The fifth episode, has the full compliment of PaddyWhackery and should therefore prove popular with the Unionist Irish – traditionally not best pleased with Irish America for its role in our violent disputes with the British – they will find plenty of ammunition for negative comment.

Focussing on the run up to St Patrick’s Day, the episode has green beer, real life leprechauns, corrupt Irish politicians and political in-fighting by men wearing green sashes (rather than orange ones) with a healthy dose of anti-British rhetoric within the municipal setting of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

This is a, so far, thoroughly entertaining series and although there is some obvious playing to wider audiences, like the (revisionist?) use of the black mobster, played by the also excellent Michael K Williams (Omar in ‘The Wire’) seeking retribution for past race crime and much delicious and bare (female) flesh -even if you are not Irish, or Italian or Black, it is well worth a look.

Alternatively perhaps you think (even without seeing it) that it is just another formulaic, over budgeted and predicable Yankee production?

Or perhaps you just won’t have a Murdoch about the place – for either financial or political reasons?

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