The Sopranos: The
Complete First Season

The Sopranos: The Complete First Season

In The Sopranos, Tony Soprano is a
mid-level crime boss in New Jersey

The Sopranos: The Complete First Season

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The Sopranos: The Complete First Season

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There was a time, not all that long ago, that television series had to be rather tame, they had to conform to the network’s moral watchdogs, the department of Standards and Practices. With the advent of premium cable networks like HBO it was only a matter of time until they ventured into the weekly series.

One of the best of this new type of series is the HBO mob drama, the Sopranos. Unlike series on the broadcast networks, The Sopranos is no holds barred. The Sopranos can be as brutally realistic as necessary. What is great about this series is that it does not take this expanded license lightly, showing sex and violence in a gratuitous fashion, rather it depends upon excellent acting, superb scripts and great direction to tell its story.

At the core of the many story lines is a simple premise. Tony Soprano is a mid-level crime boss in New Jersey. He comes from a long line of bosses and finds the expectations of his ability to perform in the manner that his predecessors did hampered by the Anti-Crime units of the police. Dissention is throughout his organization and those of other associated gangs. Add to this a plethora of family problems and you have a mob boss for modern times. He begins to have panic attacks that lead him to a psychiatrist and to being put on Prozac. Still the problems mount. His wife is distrusting, and with good reasons, of Tony’s behavior. His teenage daughter is spiraling out of control. His elderly mother is feigning a complete loss of mental process while she is actually pulling the strings through her brother-in-law, a rival boss to Tony. How is a man expected to make a dishonest living with such pressures surrounding him? The number of plots, characters and arcs is staggering. What holds The Sopranos together so well is the way the writers and actors create a tapestry, each thread interwoven to perfection. The story lines will hold you through all 13 hours on the discs.

The only thing that can be said about the acting is forgetaboutit James Gandolfini owns this role like few actors could. He can change in a moment from a family man that loves his children, is devoted to his spiteful mother to a cold-blooded killer. The dep[th and range that he brings to the role is the real core of this series. Lorraine Bracco plays Tony’s shrink, Dr, Jennifer Malfi. In this role the easy road would have been an observer to the turmoil going on in her patience’s mind. While this is how things start out, over the course of the series she is dragged, somewhat willingly, into the fear and distrust Tony feels. Edie Falco, portrays Tony’s wife Camela late for another HBO series, Oz. She is the long-suffering wife, devoted to her family, knows that her husband is a mob boss, knows he has a guma (girlfriend) on the side yet she tries her best to hold the family together. She also tries very hard to improve herself spiritually. A devote Catholic, she is hindered only by a crush she has on the family’s priest. Tony’s mother Livia, played to absolute perfection by the late Nancy Marchand is a real piece of work. She kisses her son hello and a few minutes later is planning his murder with her late husband’s brother, the current boss of bosses, Uncle Junior (Dominic Chianese).

The actors that round out The Sopranos ensemble cast are also casted far better than most television shows. Many are familiar faces to the devotees of mob films. Tony Sirico, who plays Tony’s second in command Paulie Walnuts, was in CopLand and the ultimate gang film, Goodfellas. Steve Va Zandt as Silvio, Tony’s enforcer, may look very familiar but not from films. This perfect mobster was once in Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street band. Another newcomer that will certainly make it through this series is Jamie Lynn Sigler as Meadow, Tony’s daughter. She plays the part of the dutiful daughter knowing full well what daddy really does.

The direction of The Sopranos is distributed over several talented directors. David Chase, the series creator, acts as executive producer and writer for most of the series and has obviously kept a tight reign on all aspects of production. The Sopranos series flows better than most. The scenes are cut, lit and crafted better than most films today. The soundtrack booms from all sides in this surround sound version.

The Sopranos discs are packaged better than most today. The slipcase has a black ribbon under the main case that permits easy removal. The audio is in 5.1 Dolby and it rocks! The ambience broadens out whenever the scene is outdoors. You hear the differences in the locations. The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The Sopranos is no slapped together TV show disc. The Sopranos is an event. Unfortunately there is only a commentary by Chase in the first episode. The rest of the added features are also on the money. The Sopranos is an offer you can’t refuse.

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