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"The Sopranos" All Happy Families (2004)

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12 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Goodbye, Feech

10/10
Author: Max_cinefilo89 from Italy
15 May 2008

After being mentioned briefly in Season 3, Feech La Manna (Robert Loggia) was introduced in the Season Five premiere, and proved himself a worthy presence on the show. Unfortunately, his stay wasn't very long, in fact All Happy Families features Loggia's last appearance in the series. According to David Chase, his departure had to do with memory problems (the actor was past his seventies), an ironic fact given the previous episode dealt with the possibility of Uncle Junior having Alzheimer's. Nonetheless, Loggia's four-episode guest spot remains one of the highlights of the show's great history, and his exit is every bit as good as his entrance.

The need to take Loggia off the series is narratively transformed into Tony's need to get rid of Feech, whose attempts to get his old power back is causing more trouble than anything, and with Christopher's help the nuisance is dealt with rather painlessly. Meanwhile, the war that's raging between Little Carmine and Johnny Sack gets uglier with the killing of the former's loan-shark, and on the private front AJ's mediocre grades lead to Carmela having a sit-down, and perhaps something else, with the school counselor, Robert Wegler (David Strathairn).

Aside from Loggia leaving the series, the most notable achievement of this episode is Strathairn's riveting performance: best known in mainstream cinema for playing unpleasant fellas, such as Kathy Bates' abusive husband in Dolores Claiborne or, most famously, Kim Basinger's vicious pimp in the extraordinary L.A. Confidential, he joins TV's best crime drama playing a nice guy, albeit with a few characterial flaws, and gives a humane portrayal justly remembered by Empire magazine as one of the show's five best guest spots (the other four, in case you're wondering, are Robert Patrick, Jon Favreau, Ben KIngsley and the already mentioned Loggia). His story arc allows the writers to move away a little from the gangster universe, which is always refreshing, and also sheds new light on the personality of Mrs. Soprano, a quite different woman since she dumped Tony.

The title may be highly ironic (no one's really happy in the episode), but hey, at least the viewers are satisfied. And for those lamenting the disappearance of a superb recurring presence, consider this: his replacement is just as marvelous.

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All Happy Families (#5.4)

8/10
Author: ComedyFan2010 from Canada
19 March 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Feech being back continues to be a problem. This time because he tries to bring things close to what they were in his days. To get rid of him instead of killing they get him arrested. AJ is being hard to deal with, with his bad grades and drinking with his friends after the concert so Carmela sends him to live with Tony.

Really like how they wrapped up Feech's being there. The character was pretty strong and very well acted. I was really expecting to see more of him.

And I guess Carmela now punished Tony to see what it is like to be a hated parent, but she seems to be punished herself all alone in the big home.

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