Boardwalk Empire appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on these single-sided, double-layered DVDs; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 sets. As usual, the series offered good but not great visuals.
Overall sharpness seemed positive. Occasional softness affected wider shots, but these weren’t an enormous issue; the shows could look a bit more tentative than expected but not in a manner that distracted. Jagged edges and edge haloes remained absent, but a smidgen of shimmering occasionally occurred. No source flaws occurred.
Like most period pieces, Empire opted for a subdued, fairly sepia look. More prominent hues appeared at times – such as during scenes in Cuba - but the general impact remained a bit desaturated. Within those parameters, the colors seemed well-rendered, and blacks looked pretty deep. Shadows showed nice clarity for the most part; a few were a bit dense, but those weren’t a big issue. This became another reasonably positive-looking set of shows.
No obvious changes came from the series’ Dolby Digital 5.1 audio either. As always, the soundscape maintained a limited sense of ambition, so we got general atmosphere and not a lot else. Some violent sequences opened up the side and rear speakers reasonably well, and other elements like the ocean demonstrated some vivacity as well. These stayed fairly infrequent, though, so expect a soundfield without a lot of range.
The quality of the audio appeared fine. Speech seemed accurate and distinctive, while effects followed suit; those elements came across with solid clarity and punch. Music also provided lively, full material. The soundtrack suited the series.
Season Five comes with fewer extras than what we found in earlier years. Four episodes boast audio commentaries. Here’s what we find:
“Golden Days for Boys and Girls” - executive producer/writer Howard Korder, executive producer/director Tim Van Patten and actor Steve Buscemi.
“Cuanti” - Korder, Buscemi, creator/executive producer/writer Terence Winter and actor Vincent Piazza.
“Friendless Child” - director Allen Coulter and actors Michael Zegen and Ben Rosenfield.
“Eldorado” - Winter, Korder, Van Patten and Buscemi.
Across the various tracks, we hear about cast, characters and performances, sets and locations, period details and historical elements, themes and story elements, and other areas. Fans who’ve listened to commentaries for prior seasons will know what to expect here.
This means inconsistent but generally informative chats. Of the four, “Days” probably offers the best discussion, as it digs into the meatiest material. The other three come with good moments but tend to be more up and down in nature. Still, all of them give us enough useful details to deserve a listen.
Across all three discs, Scouting the Boardwalk bringss us episode-specific featurettes with a total running time of 18 minutes, 37 seconds. In these, we hear from location managers Amanda Foley and Audra Gorman. As implied by the title, “Scouting” looks at various locations used for Season Five. The programs give us quick but informative notes.
Disc One provides a featurette called Season 4 Revisited. Hosted by Terence Winter, this seven-minute piece gives us a quick overview of the series’ fourth season. It’s a nice refresher, as it gets us back up to date before we launch into the fifth set of shows.
Although I think Boardwalk Empire peaked with its fourth year, Season Five finishes the series in a satisfying manner. While it may seem a bit rushed, it manages to conclude its saga well. The DVDs offer good picture and audio along with a smattering of decent bonus materials. Fans should feel pleased with the way in which S5 ends a high-quality series.