The series' brilliant first season is built around what Tony learns when, whipsawed between those two worlds, he finds himself plunged into depression and seeks psychotherapy--a gesture at odds with his midlevel capo's machismo, yet instantly recognisable as a modern emotional test. With analysis built into the very spine of the show's elaborate episodic structure, creator Chase and his formidable corps of directors, writers, and actors weave an unpredictable series of parallel and intersecting plot arcs that twist from tragedy to farce to social realism. While creating for a smaller screen, they enjoy a far larger canvas than a single movie would afford, and the results, like the very best episodic television, attain a richness and scope far closer to a novel than movies normally get.
Unlike Francis Coppola's operatic dramatisation of Mario Puzo's Godfather epic, The Sopranos sustains a poignant, even mundane intimacy in its focus on Tony, brought to vivid life by James Gandolfini's mercurial performance. Alternately seductive, exasperated, fearful, and murderous, Gandolfini is utterly convincing even when executing brutal shifts between domestic comedy and dramatic violence. Both he and the superb team of Italian-American actors recruited as his loyal (and, sometimes, not-so-loyal) henchman and their various "associates" make this mob as credible as the evocative Bronx and New Jersey locations where the episodes were filmed.
The first season's other life force is Livia Soprano, Tony's monstrous, meddlesome mother. As Livia, the late Nancy Marchand eclipses her long career of patrician performances to create an indelibly earthy, calculating matriarch who shakes up both families; Livia also serves as foil and rival to Tony's loyal, usually level-headed wife, Carmela (Edie Falco). Lorraine Bracco makes Tony's therapist, Dr Melfi, a convincing confidante, by turns "professional", perceptive, and sexy; the duo's therapeutic relationship is also depicted with uncommon accuracy. Such grace notes only enrich what's not merely an aesthetic high point for commercial television, but an absorbing film masterwork that deepens with subsequent screenings. --Sam Sutherland, Amazon.com
Back in your chair to watch the rest of the Sopranos, that is!
This first season of the Sopranos is a real beauty. A great cast (unbelievable acting-debute of Steven Van Zandt!). Great music (Tindersticks e.g.). Great cinematography (little spoiler: Tony's first attack). Great script and quotes. And the necessary humor.
This great show comes in a 4-disk dvd-box. The box-art is really nice. There are some extra's (audio comment of the director for the pilote, an interview with the director,..) but not very much. And maybe also good to know if you're non-UK: there are subtitles for most European languages.
So, with an objective, post hype and critical eye I started to watch series one in February 2004.
Absolutely amazing, I am utterly addicted to this masterpiece of imagination. It portrays the life of a man who seems to have it all; the money, the house, the cars, the ladies, the power.......but he's just as fallible and vulnerable as the rest of us (he may go a little further than most when faced with adversity) but still you find yourself almost identifying and actually rooting for this mob boss.
He's a family man as well as a gangster and it is in this guise that we get the balance and insight into ordinary humanity that empowers the viewer to empathise with Tony Soprano and forgive his excesses in his alter ego of Mafia Don. These two worlds are abridged magnificently by Tony's frank and increasingly open discourse with his Psychiatrist, Dr Melfi.
Their evolving relationship serves to show the viewer the tenderness that Tony is capable of feeling (when he's not "whacking" people) and allows him to express his inner feelings. This lends itself to ever increasing character knowledge and complexity of Tony Soprano, engaging the viewer to want to find out more about Tony and his complex life.
Forget Big Brother, this is the ultimate insight into human nature and all its facets.
I have just ordered the 2nd, 3rd and 4th series through Amazon on the strength of the 1st series and I'm only onto episode 9!
The down side?......... Read more ›
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