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HBO Television Roundup: Nucky, Kenny, and the Gawky Englishman

[adinserter block=”1″]One of the good things about Home Box Office (HBO) is that they make their own rules and end their shows when they feel like it. They don’t draw series out with 20-24 episode seasons, either. They usually give you 10 to 12 episodes that stay on topic and leave little room for filler. Three of their shows just had their season (and series for one) finales that I just cleaned off of my DVR. For your reading pleasure I’ve reviewed ‘Boardwalk Empire’, ‘Eastbound & Down’, and ‘Hello Ladies’. Enjoy…

Boardwalk Empire
Finale Airdate: November 24, 2013

This fourth season just solidified ‘Boardwalk Empire’ as one of the best shows currently on television, but I just don’t believe this show is getting the credit it deserves. The season finale “Farewell Daddy Blues” had me on the edge of my seat. The beef between Chalky White (Michael K. Williams) and Dr. Narcisse (Jeffrey Wright) was as good as any confrontation this show has ever introduced. The second-best confrontation was between Nucky (Steve Buscemi) and his brother Eli (Shea Whigham). Eli had some deep-seeded issues with Nucky, since season one, that festered to the point where he was going to turn on Nucky, and help the feds lock his brother up. The writers spent all season methodically setting up this storyline, and ending it in a way that gives it life heading into next season.

Viewers should give a round of applause for how well Steve Buscemi is doing in this lead role. In season one he seemed like a fish out of water, and all I could think about was all of the goofy and creepy characters he had played in movies like ‘Big Daddy’ and ‘Con Air’. He has really taken to this role, and his character has evolved into as good of a television gangster as we’ve seen. The only disappointing thing about his character is that his now ex-wife Margaret (Kelly Macdonald) isn’t around more. And what a tangled web she has woven. She’s so high and mighty when she’s talking to Nucky, condemning the bad things he does, but when she wants a nice/new apartment it is okay for her to break the law, and cut a deal with the deplorable Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg). She’s absolutely beautiful, but what a hypocrite.

As with any great show, casualties happen. I am dumbfounded that Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) met his demise, after missing his target (Dr. Narcisse) and accidentally killing Chalky’s daughter. Why did he have to die? He had a wife; a child; loving sister… his life was finally on track. His death was very odd and very sad. I can’t wait to see where they go with season five.

Eastbound & Down
Finale Airdate: November 17, 2013

The four-year ‘Eastbound & Down’ odyssey came to an end with the airing of the finale episode, “Chapter 29.” I am going to miss the great Kenny Powers (Danny McBride). He was always good for a laugh and the show gave me an excuse to gawk at the lovely (and much underrated) Katy Mixon who plays Kenny’s now wife, April. She is gorgeous, and has a body to match… but I digress. This season was a great exercise in how to wrap up a dramatic comedy. April and Kenny of course broke up again, Stevie still has his head up Kenny’s butt, and Kenny was still oblivious to how stupid his antics were. The only confusing part was the very end when we got a glimpse of Kenny’s future. We found out his daughter grows up to look like Lindsay Lohan (she actually played his future daughter), April gets killed by would-be thieves, Kenny attends rehab then eventually marries an African woman and has about 7 more African kids.

In true television fashion we found out that was all just a figment of Kenny’s imagination as he was simply putting the final touches on his biography book that he had been writing for the entire series. I feel so dumb. All of episodes were named Chapter this… and Chapter that and in the end I realized that Kenny’s book was what this series was all about. He constantly talked about, made a big deal about it, and I foolishly didn’t catch on. I simply tuned in year after year to laugh at Kenny and enjoy the crazy characters in his life. Anyway, this was a good show and I wish it was popular enough to spawn a movie.

Hello Ladies
Finale Airdate: November 17, 2013

This fall, HBO introduced this new comedy that follows the lead character Stuart Pritchard (Stephen Merchant) in his perpetual search to get laid by women that are out of his league. This show is surprisingly funny, and has a little Kenny Powers meets Larry David feel to it. Stuart’s accent, height, and overall lack of self-awareness are comedy gold.

The best episode of the season was “Pool Party” where Stuart plans this party, thinks no one (i.e. hot model chicks) is going to show up, so he leaves the party. He returns to find that several women have shown up, and it was actually a success. However, he then can’t get back into his own party, because he didn’t have the requisite party invitation or personal identification (both rules HE made up). Sounded and felt like an episode of Seinfeld… it was pretty good. The only thing that I might not like is this budding romance between Stuart and his friend/tenant Jessica (Christine Woods). Jessica is alright, but I hate how every show has to setup a lingering romance plot to keep viewers interested.

[adinserter block=”2″]Why can’t two single people of the opposite sex just stay platonic friends while they find the right person for them? Am I just being ridiculous? Is it so impossible for a man and a woman to be true friends without mixing love and/or sex into the equation? Anyway, this show is really funny and had several awkward situations that were oddly suspenseful. Wade’s (Nate Torrence) on-going divorce, Kives’ never-ending manner of charming women – despite his handicap limitations, and Jessica’s undercover feud with rival actress Amelia (Jenny Slate) are all storylines that are intriguing enough to get me to pay attention to season two.

[amazon_link id=”B0089K7DGW” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ] Boardwalk Empire: Complete First Season (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)[/amazon_link]

[amazon_link id=”B00FOHHMWI” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ] Eastbound & Down: The Complete Fourth Season[/amazon_link]

Jack Gotta
Follow Jack on Twitter @JackGotta


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