HBO's Boardwalk Empire, whose first episode was directed by Martin Scorsese and on which the latter serves as executive producer, has delivered a mostly disappointing first season. Several of the women actors create complex, credible characters; the male actors have their moments, but for the most part they seem stuck with stereotypes from crime films of recent decades.
In fact, the series suffers centrally from Scorsese's perennial tendency to pay homage to gangsters and gangster films, with all of the stylized violence and clichéd figures normally associated with the genre.
Moreover, in keeping with that impressionistic bent, the series makers insist on treating the source of the characters' problems as exclusively psychological—although the program takes place in the volatile 1920s, in an America undergoing all manner of profound change. In this, they follow in a recent (and tedious) tradition that has seriously limited the scope and critical perspective of many contemporary movies and television series.