by Jon Partridge

The Making of The Mob: New York marks AMC’s first foray into the docudrama. It uses a blend of dramatic reenactments and archival footage to retell historical events about the rise of several mob families in New York.

The show is narrated by Ray Liotta, familiar to most for his role in Goodfellas. An 8-part series tells of a half-decade era starting in the early 1900s when a young group of Italian immigrants, entrepreneurs, and bootleggers seeded the formation of a organized crime network that has become the fascination of many today.

The drama side of the production looks at the arrival and rise to power of the original five families as well as three close friends during these formative years: Charles “Lucky” Luciano, Meyer Lansky, and Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel. Overall these segments offer some entertainment and good production values (aside from some iffy FX work), but get a little over the top at times and feel staged. The depiction of violence feels authentic, and it shies away from the glamorous side of Mafia life it is so often connected with.

The real meat of the series relies on factual evidence, delivered by noted author and historian David Pietrusza and others. These aspects are both informative and interesting. Again this aspect is a little undermined by drawing on recognizable faces such as Mayor Rudy Giuliani, singer Frankie Valli, and actors who have played mobsters in movies including Chazz Palminteri, Joe Mantegna, Drea de Matteo, and Vincent Pastore. It adds a little pizazz to proceedings but does embody the conflict between the factual and the entertainment aspects of this series. When it veers towards the dramatical entertainment it starts to lose the sharpness and insight you would expect from a straightforward documentary. There’s no doubting that such an approach makes it more accessible though, and many will have no issues with this.

THE PACKAGEThe 8 part mini-series comes as a two-disc set on Blu-ray. The transfer is solid and documentary portions are sharp and clear, though the reenactment scenes are a little less defined. Some contrast elements are lacking, but overall it looks good.

Bonus Features include a number of additional/deleted scenes which enhance existing elements. There are also a significant number of featurettes and interviews, which include: The Real Arnold Rothstein, The Secret Life Of A Mob Wife, The Mob and Mussolini, Al Capone and The “Other” Mob, Mob Innovations, and The Mob Shrink. It’s a pretty well stuffed disc that enhances the more appealing historical nature of the series.

THE BOTTOM LINEThe Making of the Mob: New York looks at an always interesting story, which here is occasionally told in a heavy handed way. The dramatical reenactments detract from the meatier and more interesting historical perspective. Production values are good and the effort feels thoroughly researched. If you are interested in the Mafia history there is plenty to appreciate, enhanced by some sold extras.

The Making of the Mob: New York is released by AMC on October 20th, 2015.

Previous post BRIDGE OF SPIES Box Office Alternative: PEOPLE LIKE US Really is About People Like Us
Next post PRACTICAL MAGIC is Practically the Pick of the Week