The new HBO TV series Boardwalk Empire premiered this week and was given both high marks from critics (read Screen Rant‘s review of the pilot HERE) and attracted enough viewers to convince HBO to go ahead and renew the show for a second season.

An average of 4.8 million viewers tuned in to check out the first episode of Boardwalk Empire, the largest premiere of any HBO series since Deadwood aired back in 2004.  Over 7 million people in total watched the Martin Scorsese-directed pilot this past Sunday.

Boardwalk Empire takes place in 1920s-era Atlantic City, at the beginning of the Prohibition era – a time period in which the sale of alcohol in the U.S. was illegal.  This contributes to a significant rise in organized crime as infamous figures like Lucky Luciano, Arnold Rothstein, and Al Capone heavily profit off the illicit selling of booze – a business that corrupt Atlantic City treasurer Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (played by Steve Buscemi) looks to get in on himself.

The series was created by award-winning screenwriter Terence Winter (The Sopranos), who shares executive production duties with Scorsese, Tim Van Patten, Stephen Levinson, and Mark Wahlberg.

HBO President of Programming Michael Lombardo released the following statement, concerning the decision to go ahead and renew Boardwalk Empire for a second season:

“All the ingredients aligned for this one, from Mark Wahlberg and Steve Levinson’s initial pitch, to Martin Scorsese’s enormous contributions as director and executive producer, to the genius of Terry Winter and the expertise of Tim Van Patten, to a stellar cast led by Steve Buscemi.  The response from the media and our viewers has been nothing short of amazing.”

Critics across the board have praised Buscemi’s performance, as well as the productions values, costumes, and cinematography of Boardwalk Empire.  While later episodes will almost undoubtedly lack the visual panache of the pilot (there’s only one Scorsese, after all), this is one show that is off to a more than solid start.

Will Boardwalk Empire be bigger than The Sopranos? The latter, a modern crime family drama, remains HBO’s most popular series to date, in terms of both critical accolades and overall popularity with viewers – for now, it looks like Nucky and his fellow criminals could give Tony and his crew a run for their money after all.

The second episode of Boardwalk Empire will air next Sunday (September 26th) at 9 p.m. EST.

Source: HBO Pictures