There are episode descriptions for the first couple of episodes, so if you don't like any spoilers at all, look away now.
via press release:
HBO DRAMA SERIES BOARDWALK EMPIRE DEBUTS SEPT. 19
America in 1920: The Great War was over, Wall Street was about to boom and everything was for sale, even the World Series. It was a time of change when women got the vote, broadcast radio began and young people ruled the world.
From Terence Winter, Emmy® Award-winning writer of “The Sopranos” and Academy® Award-winning director Martin Scorsese, BOARDWALK EMPIRE is set in Atlantic City at the dawn of Prohibition, when the sale of alcohol became illegal throughout the United States. The new HBO drama series kicks off its 12-episode season SUNDAY, SEPT. 19 (9:00-10:15 p.m. ET/PT).
On the beach in southern New Jersey sat Atlantic City, a spectacular resort known as “The World’s Playground,” a place where the rules didn’t apply. Massive hotels lined its famous Boardwalk, which featured nightclubs, amusement piers and entertainment that rivaled Broadway. For a few dollars, a working man could get away and live like a king – legally or illegally.
The undisputed ruler of Atlantic City was the town’s treasurer, Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Steve Buscemi), a political fixer and backroom dealer who was equal parts politician and gangster and equally comfortable in either role. Because of its strategic location on the seaboard, the town was a hub of activity for rum-runners, minutes from Philadelphia, hours from New York City and less than a day’s drive from Chicago. And Nucky Thompson took full advantage.
Along with his brother Elias (Shea Whigham), the town’s sheriff, and a crew of ward bosses and local thugs, Nucky carved out a niche for himself as the man to see for any illegal alcohol. He was an equal-opportunity gangster, doing business with Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg), “Big Jim” Colosimo (Frank Crudele), “Lucky” Luciano (Vincent Piazza) and Al Capone (Stephen Graham).
As BOARDWALK EMPIRE begins, Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt), Nucky’s former protégé and driver, returns home from the Great War, eager to get ahead and reclaim his rightful place in Nucky’s organization. But when Jimmy feels things aren’t moving quickly enough, he takes matters into his own hands, forming a deadly alliance with associates of Nucky’s that sets the Feds, led by Agent Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon), on his mentor’s tail. Complicating matters further is Nucky’s burgeoning relationship with Margaret Schroeder (Kelly Macdonald) a woman in an abusive marriage whom he tries to help.
The show also stars Michael Kenneth Williams as Chalky White, leader of the city’s African-American community; Dabney Coleman as Commodore Louis Kaestner, Nucky’s mentor; Paz de la Huerta as Nucky’s girlfriend Lucy; Aleksa Palladino as Angela, Jimmy Darmody’s Bohemian girlfriend and mother of their three-year-old son; Paul Sparks as Mickey Doyle; Anthony Laciura as Eddie Kessler; and Gretchen Mol as Gillian, a local showgirl with whom Nucky shares a long and complicated history.
Episode #1: “Boardwalk Empire”
Debut: SUNDAY, SEPT. 19 (9:00-10:15 p.m. ET/PT)
Other HBO playdates: Sept. 19 (10:15 p.m., 11:30 p.m.), 20 (9:00 p.m.), 21 (11:00 p.m.), 22 (9:30 p.m.), 23 (midnight), 25 (3:15 p.m., 10:00 p.m.) and 29 (8:30 p.m.)
HBO2 playdates: Sept. 20 (7:45 p.m., 9:00 p.m., 10:15 p.m.), 23 (8:45 p.m.), 24 (midnight) and 26 (1:00 p.m.)
January 1920. On the eve of Prohibition, Atlantic City’s Treasurer, Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi), condemns alcohol at a Women’s Temperance League meeting, where he is noticed by Margaret Schroeder (Kelly Macdonald), a pretty, pregnant housewife who comes to him for help in getting her abusive husband Hans (Joe Sikora) a job. Later that evening, the duplicitous Nucky privately tells his ward bosses about the opportunity to make huge profits selling bootleg liquor. At a countdown-to-midnight blast at Babette’s Supper Club, he assures Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt), a recently returned WWI vet, that his appointment as “Man Friday” to the new Chief Clerk of the Fourth Ward, Paddy Ryan (Samuel Taylor), will lead to bigger things. Jimmy, meanwhile, has higher aspirations and ends up making an alliance that could have dire consequences for both him and Nucky.
Written by Terence Winter; directed by Martin Scorsese.
Episode #2: “The Ivory Tower”
Debut: SUNDAY, SEPT. 26 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT)
Other HBO playdates: Sept. 26 (11:00 p.m.), 28 (11:30 p.m.) and 29 (10:00 p.m.)
HBO2 playdates: Sept. 27 (8:00 p.m.) and 30 (10:00 p.m.)
Investigating a crime which he feels has been pinned on a scapegoat, straight-arrow Agent Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon) pays a visit to Nucky and leaves convinced that the Treasurer is “as corrupt as the day is long.” Nucky quickly does damage control, enlisting his brother, Sheriff Elias Thompson (Shea Whigham), to close ranks with their underlings. Meanwhile, in Chicago, Al Capone (Stephen Graham) shows a local reporter what he thinks about accusations that Johnny Torrio (Greg Antonacci) was involved in the slaying of local mobster “Big Jim” Colosimo (Frank Crudele). Back in Atlantic City, Nucky discusses the upcoming election with his aging mentor, Commodore Louis Kaestner (Dabney Coleman), with whom he debates the women’s vote issue. Later, before heading out for a night on the town, Nucky rebukes an irate Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg) over the phone, then meets privately with Margaret Schroeder, who asks him for help in providing for her children. As a long day ends, a traveling salesman named George Baxter (Allen Lewis Rickman), in town for a few days with an unwilling young beauty named Claudia (Megan Ferguson), makes a startling discovery while on the road home to Baltimore.
Written by Terence Winter; directed by Tim Van Patten.
Created by Terence Winter, BOARDWALK EMPIRE is executive produced by Terence Winter, Martin Scorsese, Tim Van Patten, Stephen Levinson and Mark Wahlberg; co-executive producers, Gene Kelly and Lawrence Konner; producers (series), Rudd Simmons and Rick Yorn; producer (pilot), David Coatsworth; supervising producer, Howard Korder.
Directors include Martin Scorsese, Tim Van Patten, Jeremy Podeswa, Alan Taylor and Allen Coulter; writers include Terence Winter, Lawrence Konner, Howard Korder, Tim Van Patten, Paul Simms, Margaret Nagle, Steve Kornacki and Meg Jackson.