So this is my first article for the imperial gmanReviews site. I will be constantly reviewing TV shows of all kinds, some have been canceled some are still on the air, in any case I will be ranting and raving about TV shows because I am just addicted to the darn tube.
For my first article I will review the first season of The Sopranos created by David Chase. I will review each show one season at a time and do them randomly. Also I will apologize that though I can avoid spoilers for the first season of most shows, it may become difficult to prevent spoilers for following seasons.
Now onto the show. Season 1 of The Sopranos is based around the life of New Jersey mobster Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini). The series starts with Tony collapsing from a panic attack. This causes him to start seeing his therapist where he tries to take control of a hectic and eventful life. Tony's biggest issue is trying to balance his family at home with the mob family. He is a capo in the DiMeo crime family run by his close friend Jackie Aprile (Michael Rispoli). Jackie Aprile is diagnosed with cancer and Tony takes over his responsibilities. This causes a beef with Tony's uncle Corrado 'Junior' Soprano. Throughout the episode we see Tony deal with many issues, his issue with his uncle, his children, his wife, unrest in the crime family, people wanting him dead, the FBI and also other mob families from varying cities.
Now first I have to say that reviewing an entire season is a lot harder than you would expect because I have to try not to give too much away, but here goes. The first thing I must say is that I love the Sopranos, and I think the storyline is simply awesome. When watching season 1 you have to remember this is set in 1998. The fashion is outdated, the cars and the phones and even the slang of the city is a definitely late 90's. One thing that bothered me when re-watching this season is that I noticed bland camera angles and a few unrealistic sound effects (like the punching sounds were similar to old karate flicks). In any case, everything else is superb. The emotional journey that you go on is captivating. You see things mostly through the eyes of Tony (but it isn't a first person story). Anything that is shown that isn't about Tony affects him in some way, now or in the future.
We see the lifestyles of mob bosses and captains. Where they eat, who they sleep with, how things work and 'jobs' are done. Or the case of his nephew, how jobs are spoiled and the effects it has on the family and the people they do business with. What I also like about the show is that it allows the viewers to create their own opinion of Tony. You sympathize with him and then he does things that make you realize he really isn't a nice person. I also really love the way the director ends the episodes. In most TV dramas each episode ends with an climatic unanswered question, “Who did it?” “Is he dead?” “What really happened?” The Sopranos has a way of ending episodes with deeper questions in mind. At the end of one episode, Tony knows someone in his crew is co-operating with the police and looks into the distance across a river. While he is looking into the distance, you can't help but think just as deeply as he is thinking.
A distinctive factor of The Sopranos has to be the intriguing characters of the show. There are many people aside from Tony Soprano that make this show as entertaining as it is. These characters bring out the emotional context of Tony's life that the viewer in turn also feels. One such character is Livia Soprano (Nancy Marchand). She is the source of Tony's depression and hate. Each episode she enters you can't help but think 'What a miserable woman.' This I give credit to Marchand's great acting skills.
Another character I was very fond of was Silvio Dante (Steve Van Zandt). His unique expressions and blunt anger are gripping. When Sil speaks you know he means business. He is known mostly as Tony's right hand man. He is quiet at most times but speaks his mind when he has to. His expressions are also entertainment for the crew, especially when he does his impression of Michael Corleone in Godfather III. He walks with what I call a graceful slouch, suit always starchy crisp shoes so shiny I'm sure they had to edit out the reflection of the camera.
Another important character that I liked is Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Braco). I had always loved Braco from Goodfellas, and she does a great job here as Tony's psychiatrist. She has to help Tony get over his panic attacks while dealing with issues she can't legally know about. Tony therefore covers up the real story by telling Dr, Melfi altered 'legal' versions of his problem. I like the relationship between the two, and no matter how much Tony tries to avoid it, he can't stop seeing her.
I could mention many more characters but they serve a bigger purpose in other seasons so I will wait until those reviews to speak about them.
The stories are gripping and drama is intense. Sopranos goes deeper into the lives of crime families. It shows us the realistic situations they face, and also the business issues that have be dealt with. Also how much their personal life can affect their business life. Even though it may seem like a show about Italian mobsters, the underlying theme is much more important. That is the importance of family. Each decision Tony makes may either affect his real family or his crime family. These decisions become a burden in his life and causes him to go to therapy. This therapy is also something he cannot tell his friends, because it is a sign of weakness, especially for an acting boss. This season is a solid rock to start the series and keeps you captivated until the ending. This is great watch and a great DVD to have.
I give it an 8.9/10