The Sopranos is a drama series created by David Chase which ran on HBO from 1999 to 2006. It revolves around the New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) and the difficulties he faces as he tries to balance the conflicting requirements of his home life and the criminal organisation he heads.
As a nerd who loves anything sci-fi The Sopranos was a TV series that was low on my list of planned purchases for the coming months. I had Buffy, The Clone Wars and Lost on my viewing schedule however after being pestered by a work colleague, promising me one of the greatest shows ever, I gave it a go.
First off… my colleague was right. The Sopranos is one of the greatest TV series ever. The best? Well, I’ll let you all know when I look at what others consider to be the best… The Wire. But back to our mafia drama.
The Sopranos is set over six seasons and, as mentioned at the top of this retro review, follows the life of Mafia boss Tony Soprano as he deals with his mobster lifestyle whilst coping with everyday life as a family man.
I say family man hesitantly because Tony is a guy who sleeps with anything in a skirt. He is a hateful character who steals, beats, bribes and kills anything or anyone who gets in his way. However, he is also one of the most loveable characters ever brought into our homes.
Tony has a moral undercurrent that wants to do right by his wife Carmela (played brilliantly by Edie Falco) and his two kids, AJ (Robert Iler) and Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler). Although he inevitably resorts to violence when things don’t go his way, there are morals underneath that gruff exterior. Be it attending a psychiatrist (Lorraine Bracco), a story arc which runs through the centre of the show, or going easy at times on associates when any normal mafia ‘boss’ would shoot him or her in the head, Tony Soprano is a live action version of Homer Simpson, only with sex and violence.
The supporting cast, including those already mentioned above, are characters that aren’t just there for show. They provide some of the best story arcs through the series including the nasty Richie Aprile (David Proval) and the equally loathsome Ralph Cifaretto (Joe Pantoliano). Without giving too much away, these guys, along with numerous others, appear on the show and you really do want to see them get their comeuppance from Tony. Because they are, at times, even more ‘sick’ than the lead character, you do grow fond of our leading man resulting in us ‘rooting’ for him even when he is strangling the life out of some poor schmuck!
Chris Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) and his partner Adriana (Drea de Matteo), meanwhile, provide further character support with some of the most powerful scenes recorded over the eight years. While one delves into a world of drugs the other fights to keep their relationship afloat – as well as their lives.
Tony’s mob crew including Silvio Dante (Steven Van Zandt) and Paulie Gualtieri (Tony Sirico) also provide some great comical moments as well as graphic violence.
While I don’t want to give much away in terms of story arcs this is a series that follows the life of Tony Soprano over nearly a decade. There aren’t any end of season cliff hangers but you do grow attached to these characters and never want it to end. It really is a snapshot of a family’s life over so many years.
Talking of the end… for all those who haven’t seen the final episode I’m obviously not going to give anything away. For those that have seen it – well, what did you think? Me? I was surprised. I thought about it for hours afterwards and liked it. Then I read a few websites and interviews in the days after and realised I’d got it wrong. I now know what happened. I’m glad they filmed it the way they did and I really believe it works. In fact, genius comes to mind when I think of what David Chase has done.
So there you have it. The Sopranos is a must see TV series. Be warned though as it has an abundance of sex, violence and bad language but it’s true to life with a range of characters that are written fully developed with skill and dedication.
I loved it!
5 out of 5 nerds