The Sopranos

What’s it about?

The Sopranos chronicles the life and times of mobster Tony Soprano as he balances his family demands and his business dealings.

Starring

James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco, Dominic Chianese, Michael Imperioli, Steven Van Zandt, Tony Sirico

An Introduction to The Sopranos

In The Sopranos, Mobster Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) has been trying to balance the demands of family life and issues with his mother with those of his extended family: the gangsters that make up his organization.

Following a panic attack, Tony realises that he may not be coping with life’s challenges as well as he thought, so he decides to seek the services of a therapist. Psychoanalyst Dr Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) seems a good choice not only as a fellow Italian-American, but also someone he can trust when some of his more illicit goings-on are inevitably revealed in therapy.

Carmela Soprano (Edie Falco) is Tony’s wife and mother to his children, Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) and Anthony Jr. (Robert Iler). Maintaining a respectable household partly involves shielding the kids from Tony’s true business dealings – although Meadow in particular is beginning to have questions – but also not complaining about Tony’s infidelity with his mistress. Carmela understands established mobster norms, but she’s no doormat: for now, the lifestyle helps make up for things.

Tony has his main family issues with his cold and unforgiving mother, Livia (Nancy Marchand) – a lady he would like to place in a nursing home for the sanity of all concerned – and his gruff and untrusting Uncle, Junior (Dominic Chianese). Junior is a crime family boss and is wary of Tony’s swift ascendency in the ranks.

At least Tony has a dependable crew of gangsters to handle his day-to-day operations, headed up by “nephew”, Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli). Christopher is keen to progress in the rankings, making him a little impulsive and unpredictable. More reliable support comes in the form of longstanding cohorts Sil Dante (Steven Van Zandt) and Paulie Gualtieri (Tony Sirico).

Summary

The Sopranos is a landmark series and is undoubtedly worthy of all the praise heaped upon it. Not only is it considered one of the best TV shows ever made (see also: The Wire, Breaking Bad), it is frequently cited as the best TV show ever made.

HBO launched The Sopranos in 1997 and there was nothing else quite like it – suddenly, here was a beautifully-made show unmistakably and unashamedly for adults, with a big cast and complex story threads. Rewarding those who paid attention while not punishing those who missed the odd thing, this was a new benchmark in high quality, serialized TV.

The Sopranos was also a show that renewed interest in box sets: latecomers to the show were eager to catch up on the episodes that they had missed, while long-standing fans wanted to be able to re-watch the whole experience from the start. After 86 episodes, the majority agreed that the ending was perfect.

AwardSo, you may wonder, as serialized shows in general are getting more interest and investment than ever before (for instance, Game Of Thrones or House Of Cards), how does The Sopranos stand up nowadays? Can it still compete? It’s not even an issue: The Sopranos is as good as it’s ever been and the quality speaks for itself. A certified binge-watcher classic!

Check out the Season 1 Trailer here:

Series Information

Originally Transmitted: 1997-2007

Original Network: HBO

Number of Complete Seasons: 6

Total Number of Episodes: 86

Minimum Episode Length: 43 minutes

Series Complete - Binge-watcher Time Guide

Watching 2 episodes per day: around 6 weeks to complete

Watching 3 episodes per day: around 4 weeks to complete

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