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The Sopranos is arguably the greatest show in Dramatic Television
Its hard to think of another series that boasts so much intelligence, sublime writing or first rate performances.
Across its epic scope it produces fresh and iconic characters and a constant level of high quality. Centering around the life of one Tony Soprano, a man who lives in two families. One is the conventional wife and two kids nuclear family the other a huge New Jersey Mafia group, of which he is the boss of both. Played by James Gandolfini, of True Romance and The Mexican fame, Tony is a fascinating, scary but also likable guy. Full praise must be given to Gandolfini for making a womanising and horrifically aggressive brute a genuinely identifiable and perfect leading man. Contemporay American drama has never had such an arresting and iconic figure as Tony.
The cast of hundreds never boasts a flat performance and such stand out characters like Paulie Walnuts and Ralph Cifaretto will stick in your memory for ever.
The true genius of this tale however, is the creator and writers bravery and revolutionary take on a conventional drama series. Twenty minute long dream sequences, powerful and original use of symbolism and metaphorical imagery and truly shocking scenes of violence. Yet all this style is met by truly touching themes of love, honour and respect for family. The series never becomes cold hearted or gratuitous.
With TV now competitive and often poor The Sopranos stands tall above the rest as America's most original and compelling drama. Forget Family Redifined. This is Television Redifined.
The Sopranos mythology is as close an analogue to Greek mythology we'll
ever get in modern life. It's all there. The archetypes of Zeus,
long-suffering Hera, oracles, sibyls, the virginal Persephone, Zeus'
seduction of mere mortal women (who can be destroyed by it), the
messengers and functionaries of Zeus, the wandering eye of the Most
High himself, on and on it goes. AND there are the deep emotions and
passions that go with it.
Greek and Roman mythology has become so quaint to us we "teach" it to sixth graders and sent them to see Disney productions of Hercules as an example. (Disney doesn't tell you the one about when Hercules batters one of his wives kills her and slaughters his children--I think that's the way it goes.) The schools don't "teach" about the mother who chops up her own children (whom she loves) to bake in a pie to feed to the husband she hates.
They don't "teach" the crazed women who mutilate the man who scorns them. Or the girl who arranges to sleep with her own father. What passes as the Greek myths in schools is really just kind of bullshit. Or...isn't there one where Zeus makes love to a mortal woman who wants to see him in his "true form"? She burns up or something. Tony does that too, to the car saleswoman. What about the dancer at Bada Bing? I haven't got to the end of the art gallery girl yet.
But The Sopranos really approaches the bloodthirst of the Gods, their cruelty, their indifference to mere mortals...and their so, so human traits mixed in with their almost unbearable inhumanity. But don't forget they sometimes show great wisdom and kindness too. The Gods and the Sopranos mingle with us mere mortals, but we say a little prayer of thanks when they pass us by. They know things we don't.
Personally speaking, when I think about "the mob," they seem to have the sort of reality to me (or your average Joe) of being sort of "out there", just like a forces of nature, and I don't ever want to get them mad at me. I know I just might brush past them every once in a while, I'm sure, but I would hardly know it. If a mobster came to me in disguise, just as the Greek Gods were used to doing with mere mortals, I hope I would treat him in a way so as not to invoke his wrath in consequence. As a child, I felt about the Greek Gods with the same sense of mystery and heightened imagination, believing they were "out there" and about somewhere, but one just never really got to see them up-close.
Now, I'm pretty sure this analogy to the Gods in The Sopranos is not done purposefully by the David Chase...he might have an awareness, sure, he's incredibly smart, but he's NOT making allusions to specifics...it's not an algorithm. Or (gods help us) an homage. He's just being true to the subject material in the best way he knows how--and it's absolute dynamite. It's no surprise the Sopranos reaches directly back to the Greeks. This kind of gradiosity and passion BELONG to the Sicilian and Italian culture (Sicily was an outpost of Ancient Greece) and have done for thousands of years. For Chase NOT to "go there" with the violence and sexuality would not be possible.
The greatness of the Greco-ROMAN myths lies precisely in their depth of presenting vividly, exhaustively, splendidly, the all-too human capacity for evil (among other things). The myths are the extremes we are all capable of if pushed into passion. David Chase's genius is that he has crystalized our cultural fascination of gangsters into a mythology worthy of the Greeks. I think his take on the mob is BETTER than Puzo or Scorsese. He somehow (consciously or unconsciously, I don't know) recognized the archetypes involved, intimately, and ran with them.
For anyone who thinks The Sopranos glorifies violence (as one dude posting here felt), that person needs to take a survey of literature or something. God, read Shakespeare. Take a course in history. Hell, look to Iraq. We live in a violent world. Learn how to digest story and context. Constantly, the show presents the REALITY but then, always the consequences.
The pleasure of watching this show is that the barrier of the TV screen protects us. I think the writers are constantly reminding us of the moral dimension involved. The Sopranos is at the bottom of it, deeply moral. It's about actions, and codes. If you get hung up on the violence, you probably had better watch something else and leave it at that. Go drink some Kool Aid and chill.
Here's a suggestion to deepen the Soprano experience. Get out the tragedies and original sources (not Edith Hamilton!) and read them, thinking of the Sopranos. And conversely, if you know the myths already and want to see them truly brought to life, think of them when you are watching The Sopranos. You'll see Zeus. You'll see Hera. You'll see all kinds of Gods.
(Look again at his mother who wanted figuratively to eat him, just like the Titans tried to eat Olympians.) The parallels are absolutely chilling.
If they wanted to pack the opera houses these days, they should get all the conductors and opera directors to watch The Sopranos en masse. That might revive opera overnight. Opera houses should just go back to the beginning and revive some of those very old operas and learn a few things from the Sopranos. Opera actually began in Italy as a movement to recreate and revive the grandeur of Greek tragedy. Interesting, hm? Look what it's come to. Sad.
Pavarotti would sing a HELL of a Tony Soprano...as a Tenor of course.
It's too bad some people don't 'get it.' They don't see, at bottom, The Sopranos is really about moral choices and consequences; it's BEYOND entertaining (it fascinates) because it parades all the deep and dark things most of us never ever have to take resposibility for.
It's truly Great Drama.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
At first the only reason I watched the Sopranos was for my husband, but
I did keep an open mind. Soon after renting the first season both he
and I were hooked. The characters were so real. You liked to love them
and you liked to hate them. It was also very convenient that they
killed all the characters that I thought should have been killed. ;)
The irony of the show is that most of the time we get this mob picture
of a character like Pauly just having fun and acting tough. This shows
you the fears and weaknesses of toughest wise guys.
You see Tony's inner conflict (James Gandolfini is a great actor) between being a good husband and father and his reputation and duties to the mob. You also see Carmela's side with Tony always gone, but she still tries to make it work and she still loves him. I love the different characters, they really picked a great cast.
The show just keeps your attention because you never know what will happen or how characters will react. I highly recommend it for people who don't have weak stomachs.
P.S. For the people who don't like it, It is called ENTERTAINMENT.
The only show on T.V. worth watching in a sea of bad. Great acting, excellent music, intriguing storylines, and even hilarious situations are combined with HBO's no-holds-barred content. James Gandolfini is mesmerizing as Tony Soprano, a lynchpin in the Italian Mafia. However, instead of seeing Tony as just a one-dimensional thug, we see that he has a life outside of his criminal activities, and that's what makes this show different from it's competition. It's a different side to the story of criminals, that they have normal lives when not breaking the law. The entire supporting cast is brilliant, especially Edie Falco, as Tony's wife Carmela, a deeply religious woman who stands behind her man despite all of his sins and Lorraine Bracco, as Dr. Jennifer Merlhi, Tony's psychiatrist; a woman who fears him when she is giving him therapy, but secretly is attracted to him when they're apart. This is indeed "the show that revolutionized T.V." See it!!!
The Sopranos is a terrific show. It may be violent, racist, sexist, and bad to the bone, it is also funny, melodramatic and cool. The characters are very well done and the acting is some of the best I've seen in years. It is also pretty keen for creator David Chase to pick Northern New Jersey as the set piece for his opus of crime life. I have liked this show alot since it aired on HBO in January of last year and I will keep on watching it because of the intrigue and drama.
The Sopranos is one of the best TV-shows I have ever seen. If you like gangster/mobster/mafia movies, I can strongly recommend "The Sopranos". The show is mainly about Anthony "Tony" Soprano and his life as a father, husband and leader of a mob in the 21st century. The show is (as far as I know) realistic, compared to many other mafia shows and movies I have seen. The actors fit like a glove to their parts. This show made me realize how good many of these actors are in other shows and movies. This show has it all; humor, action, drama, good music, good actors, good "behind the camera" people and a good plot. The show displays all sides of the mob business; "buisness", private life, the cops/FBI point of view, the victims side of the story and much more.
What can you possibly say about a show of this magnitude? "The Sopranos" has literally redefined television as we know it. It has broken all rules, and set new standards for television excellence. Everything is flawless, the writing, directing, and for me, most of all, the acting. Watching this show you'll find yourself realizing that these characters are NOT real. The acting tricks you into thinking there is a real Tony Soprano, or any character. This show is also very versatile. Some people don't watch the show because it's violent, it's not all about the violence, it's about business, family, and many deeper things that all depend on what you, as a fan see. For me, I don't like when people refer to the show, a show about the Mafia. For me, it's a show about family. A family who, through generations, happen to be apart of the mob. Overall this is a masterpiece of a show. This is what television should be. Right here. Complex characters from stunning acting, magnificent story lines from brilliant writing, and what do you get when you mix these ingredients together? A show that defines excellence, and dares to be different.
When this show is on it's game, it is brilliant, amazing television. So well-cast, well-written and well directed, it shows what cable TV can achieve. Now, like any creative vehicle, it too can fall short. There are messy, uneven episodes. The season ender this year was rather all over the place and unsatisfying, but, overall, great television. Gandolfini deserves all the praise coming his way. (His monolouge as a hitman describing his first "hit" in True Romance is a great piece of work). Bravo!!
The Sopranos has always been a long time favourite show of mine. And to read some guy saying that Buffy is what real TV is about and the Sopranos should be axed this is a disgrace. The show gets in the heart and soul of the Mafia and family life just like "THE GODFATHER Trilogy", it gets to the heart and soul of each individual character. Being a TV show you can get a new insight into a character each week, it is a action packed drama and having Gandolfini as the front man dosn't hurt either. The Emmy's it has won a deserved and long over due. This series its most definitely up there with some of the greatest TV shows of all time like "Sienfeld", "The Simpsons". And for "Buffy, Angel, Charmed" and the rest of the crap on TV these days The Sopranos gives a raw and passion back to the TV and more producers should take the lead and support the good TV that can be made instead of the crap that is coming around and around and around on the TV these days.
THE SOPRANOS (1999-2007)
Number 1 - Television Show of all Time
Everyone thought this would be a stupid thing that wouldn't go past a pilot episode. The Sopranos has become a cultural phenomenon and universally agreed as one of the greatest television shows of all time.
James Gandolfini plays the enigmatic New Jersey crime boss, Tony Soprano, accompanied by a stellar cast. Edie Falco is superb as the worrying, loving upper-middle class mother; Tony Sirico is tremendous as a superstitious, greying consiglieri who is often very funny.
While the show has often been criticised for the negative stereotype of Italian-Americans as mafiosi, and to an extent this is undeniable, I can see so many positives from the show. The portrayal of strong family values, friendships, love and compassion; could this be present in a coarse television show about gangsters? Yes. Furthermore, other burning issues are discussed such as terrorism, social inequality and injustice, homosexuality, drugs etc. This is no shallow, dull show about tough guys and violence. It has so much more. Many of the issues we see on the show are very real.
The writing which has been pretty much great has infused so successfully current issues and managed to imbred them within the characters' lives, which makes the whole thing more interesting.
Credit must go to David Chase who has created an excellent television treasure and to James Gandolfini, for envisioning, television's most complex and enigmatic character.
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