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'Making of the Mob: New York' review: Too timid


AMC's "The Making of the Mob: New York" traces the rise of several notorious gangsters. Credit: AMC

THE SERIES "The Making of the Mob: New York"

WHEN | WHERE Monday at 10 p.m. on AMC

WHAT IT'S ABOUT This eight-parter narrated by Ray Liotta incorporates commentary and re-enactments of some of the more lurid moments in New York mob history. Monday: The rise of Lucky Luciano (Rich Graff) as he muscles his way into mob boss Joe Masseria's (Stelio Savante) turf. The re-enactments promise groundbreaking special effects, mostly related to re-creations of various shootings. Commentators include former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Meyer Lansky II, Chazz Palminteri, Drea de Matteo, Joe Mantegna and Frankie Valli.

MY SAY Mobsters and their crimes -- stuff of a thousand movies and TV shows born of our long cultural obsession -- simply don't yield to re-enactments, if this series is any indication. (Two episodes were offered for review). There are reasons for this, beginning with the fact that we've seen too much and have absorbed too much, most recently on "Boardwalk Empire," where Luciano, Masseria, Arnold Rothstein and Al Capone and many other gangsters were brought so vividly to life.

But the re-enactments here -- all polished to a high gloss -- are filled with otherwise competent actors who look like they could just as easily play accountants in a TV series about accountants. They look like nice guys. They don't look like sociopathic, wild-eyed, trigger-happy, bloodthirsty, stone-cold killers. None -- just to be perfectly clear -- look or act even remotely like Joe Pesci's Tommy DeVito from "Goodfellas" (which AMC airs Monday night from 7-10). But it is Tommy and so many other great movie/TV wiseguys who vividly crowd our imaginations. Right or wrong, that's just the way it is.

These too-timid re-enactments, punctuated with the occasional burst of VFX gunfire, are interspersed with some informative commentary by real experts like veteran mob reporter Selwyn Raab and dramatically less informative observations by actors like Vincent Pastore, who of course played a mobster on TV. ("The Sopranos," but you know that). If only Pastore had starred in the re-enactments instead.


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