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The Supporting Cast - TV Show Review: Dexter vs. Boardwalk Empire Head-to-Head Comparison
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posted on Nov 2, 2011 at 5:26PM

TV Show Review: Dexter vs. Boardwalk Empire Head-to-Head Comparison

The Supporting Cast

By Jeremy Whitley
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H2H ROUND-4: The Supporting Cast

H2H USER SCORE
View Official Scorecard

BOARDWALK EMPIRE

Boardwalk Empire has a dynamite supporting cast. The most notable of which is Michael Pitt, who plays Nucky’s unstable go-to guy and World War I Veteran, Jimmy Darmondy. Pitt’s performance is reckless, fearless, and downright unforgettable. Not only do you never know what he’s going to do next, you get the feeling he doesn’t either. In a world full of disciplined bad men, Darmondy is the loose cog that constantly threatens to destroy everything. Pitt’s performance is on par with master actors twice his age, not the least comparable of which shares his last name.

 

full cast of hbo's boardwalk empire, put next to the cast of showtime's Dexter in a Head-to-Head tv show review
(Credit: Daily Mail)


The cast goes so much deeper than that. Shea Whigham gives a striking performance as Nucky’s brother Eli, who is equal parts lawman and gangster. He is Nucky’s strongman when things really need to get done, but is perhaps also the weakest point in his armor; he is as rash as Nucky is careful.

 

They are joined by the always-amazing Michael Shannon, playing agent Nelson Van Alden. Van Alden is a man who believes so strongly in absolute right, faith, and justice that he’s willing to sacrifice everything and everyone to see the world righted and sin washed away. He eventually ends up falling in with a woman who wears that sin as a badge of pride, Lucy Danziger. Danziger is played heartbreakingly by Paz de la Hueata, embodying a woman who’s made herself into what every man wants, only to discover that no one wants her anymore.

 

The next season of the show also promises to show us more of Dabney Coleman’s Commodore Louis Kaestner, Jimmy’s father and Nucky’s former boss whom he unceremoniously supplanted.

 

Perhaps the real standouts though, are the historical gangsters. As I said before, we get acquainted with Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, Arnold Rothstein, and Johnny Torrio. All of these men are real gangsters with real rap sheets. However, the show resists portraying them all as Michael Corleone or Tony Montana clones. As a matter of fact, by the time Jimmy leaves Chicago, you start to think that Al Capone was actually a pretty nice guy. Finding such strong actors and giving such strong writing to characters who could have easily been window dressing puts Boardwalk Empire leagues beyond other gangster shows. Then again, if anyone one knows how to humanize gangsters, it’s HBO.

 

DEXTER

Although so much of this story takes place inside the head of Dexter Morgan, Dexter is written as an ensemble show. As Dexter and Deb have grown over the years, so has their supporting cast.

 

full cast of showtime's Dexter head-to-head with the ccast of HBO's Boardwalk Empire in this tv show review
(Credit: IMDB)


Angel Batista started the series as little more than legal comic relief; he was a counter weight to the over-serious James Doakes. Doakes was the guy you wanted looking out for you, but Batista was the guy you’d want to drink with afterwards. While Doakes left the show in extraordinary fashion, Batista has become a stand out on his own. Batista is a deeply flawed guy, struggling with a heap of issues, but one who really wants to do better. Just as Deb is your hopeless little sister, Batista is that brother or uncle you just wish could straighten up and get things together. Played by the amazing David Zayas, Batista is running on a course parallel to Dexter; Dexter is always trying to understand the better man, while Batista is trying so hard to be that man.

 

Side-by-side, often literally, with Batista is strong and intelligent Lt. Maria LaGuerta, played by the equally amazing Lauren Velez. What’s really fantastic about this character is that she is the archetypal, no nonsense, strong female character, but she’s also a complicated woman. A lot of people go really wrong trying to make a character like this. They make her too bitchy, to clichéd, or too sexy. Velez somehow manages to strike the perfect chord and it really took time to do. For a good deal of the first few seasons you’re not sure whether to like LaGuerta or not. She’s everything that Deb’s not: she’s professional, she’s thoughtful, and at times, she is backstabbing and bitter. However, she earns your respect by being a great commanding officer through it all. When things really get tough, you can depend on LaGuerta to have your back.

 

Beyond these principles, you also have James Remar, playing Dexter’s father and serving as a bit of a Jiminy Cricket for our hero; C.S. Lee as the often-adolescent lab tech, Vince Masuka; Desmond Harrington as the not-so-good-cop Joey Quinn; and the angelic Julie Benz as Dexter’s girlfriend/wife Rita. None of them are out of place. None of them fall flat. Each and every actor gives you a reason to care about their character. In a show where a lot of people die, that’s of paramount importance.

 

What really puts Dexter’s casting above all other shows is the guest stars. Every season Dexter offers up dynamite guest stars for that season’s stories. The coming season promises Mos Def, Colin Hanks, and Edward James Olmos, which is enough acting skill to make a hell of a series by itself. That’s not even considering past guest stars: Christian Carmargo, Jaime Murray, Jimmy Smits, Keith Carradine, and Julia Stiles. Oh and don’t think I forgot John Lithgow. I’m not giving away any plot points on this, but John Lithgow gives one of the most amazing performances on television in his season four guest starring role. Really, if you haven’t seen it you will never know John Lithgow the way I know John Lithgow.

 

WINNER: While both shows have extraordinary casts, the amazing guest stars that Dexter brings to the table make it the clear winner.
 


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The Supporting Cast - TV Show Review: Dexter vs. Boardwalk Empire Head-to-Head Comparison
BETA
HEAD-2-HEAD REVIEWS
Top Reviews>>
posted on Nov 2, 2011 at 5:26PM

TV Show Review: Dexter vs. Boardwalk Empire Head-to-Head Comparison

The Supporting Cast

By Jeremy Whitley
 

H2H ROUND-4: The Supporting Cast

H2H USER SCORE
View Official Scorecard

BOARDWALK EMPIRE

Boardwalk Empire has a dynamite supporting cast. The most notable of which is Michael Pitt, who plays Nucky’s unstable go-to guy and World War I Veteran, Jimmy Darmondy. Pitt’s performance is reckless, fearless, and downright unforgettable. Not only do you never know what he’s going to do next, you get the feeling he doesn’t either. In a world full of disciplined bad men, Darmondy is the loose cog that constantly threatens to destroy everything. Pitt’s performance is on par with master actors twice his age, not the least comparable of which shares his last name.

 

full cast of hbo's boardwalk empire, put next to the cast of showtime's Dexter in a Head-to-Head tv show review
(Credit: Daily Mail)


The cast goes so much deeper than that. Shea Whigham gives a striking performance as Nucky’s brother Eli, who is equal parts lawman and gangster. He is Nucky’s strongman when things really need to get done, but is perhaps also the weakest point in his armor; he is as rash as Nucky is careful.

 

They are joined by the always-amazing Michael Shannon, playing agent Nelson Van Alden. Van Alden is a man who believes so strongly in absolute right, faith, and justice that he’s willing to sacrifice everything and everyone to see the world righted and sin washed away. He eventually ends up falling in with a woman who wears that sin as a badge of pride, Lucy Danziger. Danziger is played heartbreakingly by Paz de la Hueata, embodying a woman who’s made herself into what every man wants, only to discover that no one wants her anymore.

 

The next season of the show also promises to show us more of Dabney Coleman’s Commodore Louis Kaestner, Jimmy’s father and Nucky’s former boss whom he unceremoniously supplanted.

 

Perhaps the real standouts though, are the historical gangsters. As I said before, we get acquainted with Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, Arnold Rothstein, and Johnny Torrio. All of these men are real gangsters with real rap sheets. However, the show resists portraying them all as Michael Corleone or Tony Montana clones. As a matter of fact, by the time Jimmy leaves Chicago, you start to think that Al Capone was actually a pretty nice guy. Finding such strong actors and giving such strong writing to characters who could have easily been window dressing puts Boardwalk Empire leagues beyond other gangster shows. Then again, if anyone one knows how to humanize gangsters, it’s HBO.

 

DEXTER

Although so much of this story takes place inside the head of Dexter Morgan, Dexter is written as an ensemble show. As Dexter and Deb have grown over the years, so has their supporting cast.

 

full cast of showtime's Dexter head-to-head with the ccast of HBO's Boardwalk Empire in this tv show review
(Credit: IMDB)


Angel Batista started the series as little more than legal comic relief; he was a counter weight to the over-serious James Doakes. Doakes was the guy you wanted looking out for you, but Batista was the guy you’d want to drink with afterwards. While Doakes left the show in extraordinary fashion, Batista has become a stand out on his own. Batista is a deeply flawed guy, struggling with a heap of issues, but one who really wants to do better. Just as Deb is your hopeless little sister, Batista is that brother or uncle you just wish could straighten up and get things together. Played by the amazing David Zayas, Batista is running on a course parallel to Dexter; Dexter is always trying to understand the better man, while Batista is trying so hard to be that man.

 

Side-by-side, often literally, with Batista is strong and intelligent Lt. Maria LaGuerta, played by the equally amazing Lauren Velez. What’s really fantastic about this character is that she is the archetypal, no nonsense, strong female character, but she’s also a complicated woman. A lot of people go really wrong trying to make a character like this. They make her too bitchy, to clichéd, or too sexy. Velez somehow manages to strike the perfect chord and it really took time to do. For a good deal of the first few seasons you’re not sure whether to like LaGuerta or not. She’s everything that Deb’s not: she’s professional, she’s thoughtful, and at times, she is backstabbing and bitter. However, she earns your respect by being a great commanding officer through it all. When things really get tough, you can depend on LaGuerta to have your back.

 

Beyond these principles, you also have James Remar, playing Dexter’s father and serving as a bit of a Jiminy Cricket for our hero; C.S. Lee as the often-adolescent lab tech, Vince Masuka; Desmond Harrington as the not-so-good-cop Joey Quinn; and the angelic Julie Benz as Dexter’s girlfriend/wife Rita. None of them are out of place. None of them fall flat. Each and every actor gives you a reason to care about their character. In a show where a lot of people die, that’s of paramount importance.

 

What really puts Dexter’s casting above all other shows is the guest stars. Every season Dexter offers up dynamite guest stars for that season’s stories. The coming season promises Mos Def, Colin Hanks, and Edward James Olmos, which is enough acting skill to make a hell of a series by itself. That’s not even considering past guest stars: Christian Carmargo, Jaime Murray, Jimmy Smits, Keith Carradine, and Julia Stiles. Oh and don’t think I forgot John Lithgow. I’m not giving away any plot points on this, but John Lithgow gives one of the most amazing performances on television in his season four guest starring role. Really, if you haven’t seen it you will never know John Lithgow the way I know John Lithgow.

 

WINNER: While both shows have extraordinary casts, the amazing guest stars that Dexter brings to the table make it the clear winner.
 


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6 Comments So Far …

  1. Joey Boots Joey Boots says:
    Boardwalk Empire is the best show on tv in the last 20 years! I like Dexter, but it's kind of common. It's good, but B.E. is really unique. Steve Buscemi is also the best actor on tv!

  2. RitaS RitaS says:
    Thank god for dvr's... these two shows are the best on tv...great rivalry!

  3. PhotoCrater PhotoCrater says:
    Buscemi crushes it - but I think Dexter's a better show.

  4. Life In Melody Life In Melody says:
    Boardwalk Empire is by far my favorite show, with Dexter running a close second. However, I find Debra Morgan to be a more engaging, interesting, relatable female lead than Margaret. Especially in Season 2 of BE, where I felt Margaret's character was significantly weaker than in the first season.

  5. Ruyman Ruyman says:
    Great, great episode of a tferiric show definitely the best currently-airing show on television. Looking forward to another A+ season of Boardwalk Empire. I also missed the significance of the title of the episode, "21." Unless it has to do with prohibition/drinking age? But I don't believe there *was* a legal drinking age in most states before prohibition. Anyway I agree, I only wish this episode could have been extended, because I wasn't ready for it to end when it did.

  6. H.Dumansky H.Dumansky says:
    Hahah, My laptop crashed when I was browsing www.head-2-head.com last time I was here. And for the past 2 months I have been looking for this weblog, so thankful I located it once again! :D best regards!

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