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99 WORDS: The flair of HBO’s ‘Boardwalk Empire’

It’s so authentic, you can almost smell the syphilis.

It’s easy to imagine the set designers of “Boardwalk Empire” (9 p.m. Sunday, HBO) scouring flea markets for just the right century-old nails for the dawn-of-Prohibition drama’s meticulously re-created Atlantic City boardwalk.

But it’s the performances that stick with you.

As bootlegger Nucky Thompson, Steve Buscemi is mesmerizing. And Michael Shannon keeps finding so many new layers to his going-off-the-rails G-Man, “Empire” would be a shoo-in for Emmy love if the two just started reading old “Jersey Shore” transcripts.

Ol’ Googly Eyes could make a more convincing Snooki than Snooki.

— CHRISTOPHER LAWRENCE

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