THE MAKING OF THE MOB: CHICAGO PREMIERE PLOT SUMMARY:
Following the format set by its predecessor, this season gives us an in-depth look at the criminal underworld in early twentieth century Chicago and Al Capone’s (Michael Kotsohilis) rise from poor immigrant to serious player.
The Making of the Mob: New York, which aired last summer on AMC, was an anomaly. Though AMC started out very similar to Turner Classic Movies, we know the channel today for playing more contemporary movies and, more importantly, its high quality drama series. For AMC to produce a docudrama that would feel at home on the History Channel is bizarre. Even now it’s still a little hard to fathom.
But despite this, The Making of the Mob: New York turned out really well. I’ve reviewed several miniseries, but Making of the Mob was the only one that I stuck with. I’m amazed that it was popular enough to get a sequel. In fact, I was convinced Robert Redford’s American West was taking its place. Obviously, I was wrong.
If you’ve watched the first season, then you basically know how The Making of the Mob: Chicago works. It was a life of vices and violence, where mobsters ran the very real risk of getting killed, not just by law enforcement and rival gangs, but also by their associates and supposed friends. Format-wise, it’s also like before. While scenes involve more than just simple reenactment, the narrator dictates where the story goes while experts and actors/personalities occasionally chime in. Not all the interview-style comments are essential, but some provide good insight, particularly in regards to Prohibition.
If you didn’t like this format the first time around, this season isn’t going to convert you. However, if Lucky Luciano wasn’t your cup of tea, you might like Al Capone, depending on how much you know about him. I actually said in my other review that Al Capone was much less interesting, but it looks like I have to eat those words. He’s surprisingly more complex than I gave him credit for.
When we think about Al Capone, most of us probably turn to portrayals like Robert De Niro in The Untouchables, where he beats another gangster’s head in with a baseball bat. While Making of the Mob reminds us he was that kind of person, it suggests that he started out a victim of circumstance and poor choices. His background bears a large resemblance to Luciano’s (who I suspect might show up in future episodes) but, compared to Lucky, he began as downright timid. I said not to expect the New York series to be like Breaking Bad, but I can’t help but see some parallels between Al Capone and Walter White.
I will keep things brief like I did with my other review, as I don’t want to take away too much from the premiere. I didn’t expect this new season, but given what I’ve seen from The Making of the Mob: Chicago so far, I’m happy to spend seven more hours with America’s most famous gangster as he takes on other mobs and the Kennedys.
RATING: 8 OUT OF 10 (GREAT)
THE MAKING OF THE MOB: CHICAGO AIRS MONDAYS AT 10 PM ON AMC
Aaron Sarnecky is Pop-Break’s television editor and covers Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., among other things. He is a graduate of Rowan University with a degree in television and film. He probably remembers that show you forgot existed. Follow him on Twitter: @AaronSarnecky