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HBO Renews 'Boardwalk Empire' for Fourth Season: Why?

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood October 2, 2012 at 2:05PM

Judging from the first four episodes of "Boardwalk Empire" Season Three, I cannot commend HBO for renewing the series for a fourth season. HBO is looking at the fact that the first two episodes of its third season averaged 2.5 million viewers, somewhat down from the Season Two finale of 3 million. Last week the show won three Emmys, down from Season One's eight; exec producer Tim Van Patten won for directing.
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Boardwalk Empire, season 3 teaser
HBO

Judging from the first four episodes of "Boardwalk Empire" Season Three, I cannot commend HBO for renewing the series for a fourth season. HBO is looking at the fact that the first two episodes of its third season averaged 2.5 million viewers, somewhat down from the Season Two finale of 3 million. Last week the show won three Emmys, down from Season One's eight; exec producer Tim Van Patten won for directing.

I was a loyal watcher for the first two seasons, but so far Season Three is a long slow slog. Bobby Cannavale as a ruthless Italian thug with a hair-trigger (much like Joe Pesci in "Wise Guys" "Goodfellas") is laboring to keep things interesting. I miss Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt) and his lesbian artist wife (Alleksa Palladino), who were both killed off at the end of Season Two. The characters left from that story arc, his prostitute mother (Gretchen Moll) and fellow war veteran Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) haven't been given much to do, although they hold promise.

Part of the problem is that Steve Buscemi's Nucky Thompson is depressed and increasingly estranged from his wily do-gooder wife (Kelly Macdonald), and ex-FBI man Michael Shannon is also emasculated and laid low--for the moment. More Michael Stuhlbarg and Michael K. Williams, please!

Let's hope that the show, created by Terence Winter, who exec produces with Martin Scorsese, Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson and Van Patten, picks up some momentum and drama. HBO must have reason to believe there is life left in it.

This article is related to: Boardwalk Empire, HBO , Steve Buscemi


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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.