There is no question that The Sopranos achieved an astounding milestone in television history. Every episode has the aura of a feature-length film, from the inter-weaving plots and interesting character arcs to the flawless wide-angle camera work.
The Sopranos rises above great television to become great art because the characters, plots, even the beautifully shot scenes of the not-so-beautiful New Jersey, become embedded in your mind. Once you're hooked, you cannot go one day without thinking about the Soprano universe and exactly what is going to happen next.
When it comes to the characters, don't be mislead: these are horrible, ruthless people who, when all is said and done, are always thinking about themselves. However...you'll like them. You'll cheer at the screen when Tony Soprano gets one over on an enemy or the Feds; you'll laugh your socks off when Silvio impersonates Michael Corleone. This is the genius of the series - here are mobsters who fight, steal and kill for a living, yet they go to PTA meetings, worry about the mortgage, put on a smile when they meet their children's friends.
The 18-rated themes of violence, sex and corruption are dealt with carefully and realistically. There are no stylised depictions of mob life - it is made clear that people fight back when someone tries to kill them, drugs and alcohol ruin lives and hardly anybody, when push comes to shove, actually likes what they sometimes have to do. The side-by-side rendering of domestic and mob life makes The Sopranos the most believable Mafia story ever committed to screen. Yes, even more so than Goodfellas of the Godfather.
The cast do the writing every inch of justice - James Gandolfini dominates every scene that Tony Soprano is in: even his breathing chews the speakers and reminds the viewer who is in charge.
Quite simply, no review can fully describe how ground-breaking, addictive and joyous The Sopranos is. Buy it, watch it and re-watch it.