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‘The Sopranos’ Review

Article by Tim Mworia
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Posted: July 17, 2013  
TV

“Whatever happened to Gary Cooper, the strong silent type?”… If that question coming from a person musing with his therapist sounds like a tragic irony, then you understand the conflicting forces of The Sopranos’ lead character, mob boss Tony Soprano.

The Sopranos is a TV drama that screened on American cable network HBO from 1999 to 2007, picking up 21 Emmy Awards along the way. It is the brainchild of David Chase and the masterpiece to which all other television series have since been judged against by critics. It follows the story of an organized crime family boss who is carrying a ton of emotional weight as he struggles with a “sad clown” internal conflict of wanting to be and wanting out of the mob.

It stars the late James Gandolfini (Tony Soprano) as the lead and a superb support cast featuring Lorraine Bracco (Dr. Jennifer Melfi) as his therapist, Edie Falco (Carmela Soprano) as his wife, Michael Imperioli (Christopher Moltisanti) as his nephew and Dominic Chianese as Uncle Junior. Other major stars and guests to appear in the series include; Steve Buscemi, Steven Van Zandt, Tony Sirico, Drea de Matteo, Frank Vincent, Annabella Sciorra and the late Tony Lip.

After a panic attack and subsequent black out which cannot be medically explained, Tony is sent to a therapist. Dr. Melfi has the impossible task of getting to the bottom of Tony’s problem which seems to be psychological. How is a man sworn to Omertà (vow of silence) supposed to share his most intimate life stories with an ‘outsider’? And most importantly, what is his crew or any of his rivals to make of him if they ever find out he is seeing a shrink?

Tony’s visits to Dr. Melfi are intermitted by his daily life motions of being a family man and his responsibilities as a crime boss. On one hand, he deals with personal issues ranging from a rocky marriage due to unfaithfulness, a tumultuous relationship with his mother and sister, raising two teenagers who are well aware of his workings and an uncle who is plotting his death. On the other side, he has to keep business going in order to ‘kick-up’ to his superiors, avoid catching a RICO case, limit friction with rival families and balance the intricacies of his crew.

The Sopranos is not your typical glamorized mafia story. People are not shooting at each other from sun up to sun down. It is a congruent piece of storytelling that depicts the realities of organized crime and the life anxieties of the people within those circles. Its maturity, artistry and technical excellence set the trail for current classics like Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men.

Unforgettable characters, unforgettable title sequence and an even more unforgettable ending. Just like you do not miss Michael Jackson’s Thriller in your music collection; your video collection isn’t complete without all six seasons of The Sopranos.

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