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TV IS THE NEW CINEMA: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season Premiere, Nussbaum TV Game, Johnson Directs 'Breaking Bad'

Thompson on Hollywood By David Chute | Thompson on Hollywood September 10, 2013 at 4:32PM

The season premiere of "Boardwalk Empire" was as lush and well-acted -- and as weirdly uncompelling -- as ever. Perhaps we've watched too many period gangster dramas, at this point, to be easily enthralled by a show that takes a staunchly traditionalist approach to the genre.

Next week's "Breaking Bad," picking up right in the middle of an unresolved all-out gunfight, will be directed by young feature ace Rian Johnson ("Looper"), whose past contributions to the series include the minimalist classic "Fly." (In the current "New Yorker," in Tad Friend's excellent profile of Bryan Cranston

, Gilligan names Johnson's upcoming episode, "Ozymandias," the series' best.) I've heard some grumbling to the effect that resorting to a shoot-out to eliminate characters (probably) and clarify the line of succession is somehow not worthy of this great series -- which to me makes it a forgone conclusion that this is not exactly what's going to happen. Thus far in the program's endgame, every major development has been to some extent an ingenious surprise. We look forward to more of the same.

Supposedly, creator and showrunner Vince Gilligan personally designed the astonishing chemical barrel packaging for the"Breaking Bad Complete Series Blu-ray set that goes on sale November 26. Special features include a two-hour "Making of" documentary. We would almost trade that in, however, for a chance to get our hands on the off-brand Lego-esque construction set that enables children of all ages to build scale models of Walt and Jessie's industrial meth lab and of their RV. "Outrage" has been reported, but we believe it is misplaced. There can be no denying that that brown camper is an icon of global pop culture on a par with with the Tardis. Well, almost.

Walter of the Desert
AMC Walter of the Desert

This article is related to: TV, TV Reviews, TV News, Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire, HBO, HBO , Television, TV IS THE NEW CINEMA, Rian Johnson

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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.