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'Boardwalk Empire' to wrap next season

Steve Buscemi in "Boardwalk Empire."

Steve Buscemi in "Boardwalk Empire." Credit: HBO

"Boardwalk Empire," one of TV's true-blue joys of the past four years, will end after its fifth on the air, HBO just announced.

“We’re thrilled to get the go-ahead for a fifth season,” said showrunner and creator Terence Winter in a statement. “After much discussion with my creative team and HBO, we’ve decided to wrap up the series after such a great run and look forward to bringing it to a powerful and exciting conclusion."

A shame? Well, yes, but there are a few ways to answer this question. First of all, the obvious is simply obvious: As good and smart and well-acted and stunningly written, directed and -- can I give a shout-out here to the incredible set designers and costume designers and all the rest of this expansive and brilliant crew that has created Atlantic City circa-1920s so lovingly and beautifully in Brooklyn -- the show has never quite attracted the buzz that is the sine qua non of any show, but particularly one on HBO.

Why is this so? I'm not sure, but I suspect some viewers never bought Steve Buscemi -- as great an actor as he is -- as the treacherous beast of the boardwalk that he set out to become. "Nucky" Thompson, in Buscemi's capable hands, may be many things, but even in his most evil, depraved moments, he seems simply way too nice.

By the way, I bought him in this role -- but then I love anything Buscemi does, so I realize that I may not be the best judge in this matter.

But it's far too early to begin these sorts of post mortems. You are simply reading my maunderings about a show that -- at its best -- is extraordinary, and will be missed (certainly by me).

The good news -- there's a fifth season to come and it will be a doozy.

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