Believe it or not, I had never seen The Sopranos.
For years, YEARS, it had been on my watch list but had never quite made the cut. Finally, thanks to Covid-19, I can now say that I have sat through and watched through the entirety of this masterpiece of modern television.
The show is formulated around a faction of the Italian-American mafia based in New Jersey and starts around the time that current faction leader, Jimmy Aprile (Michael Rispoli), is dying from cancer.
Nature takes its course, thereby creating a power vacuum within New Jersey as Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), who appears to have stepped up within the family begins clashing with his Uncle Junior (Dominic Chianese) who feels it is his place to become the new leader.
This sets the momentum for the entire show as Tony and Junior go head to head.
As the series progresses, we get further internal tensions within the New Jersey crew, arrests being made, members are turned informants for the FBI, others betray Tony and plot against him, and in later seasons there is escalation, leading to greater friction with the New York crew also.
The character development within The Sopranos is fantastic, and series creator David Chase never seems to struggle finding the angle to take as the story progresses. Even with the untimely death of Nancy Marchand (who portrayed Tony’s mother, Livia) Chase was able to work around it and stage a fitting exit from the show relatively seamlessly (early CGI aside).
Character departures ranged between fitting (looking at you Richie Aprile) to utterly heartbreaking and in what was one of the greatest achievements of the show, Chase could have you truly liking a character, only for them to then commit some sudden, heinous act.
The acting throughout the series was excellent, and even the children, Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) and A.J. (Robert Iler), who both started off as great, grew with the show and developed into fine actors over the course of the series.
We can’t talk about The Sopranos however, without acknowledging James Gandolfini.
His performance as Tony Soprano was nothing short of outstanding. The constant conflict within Tony, the flick of the switch from happiness to anger, he truly was the heart of the show.
I don’t want to delve into the ending of the series too much suffice it to say that I thought it was a very good, albeit illusive end. The tension that was created in the lead up to that final scene was spectacular, Chase could certainly paint the picture he wanted.
Most of the gripes I have seen online are due to the lack of definitiveness, but I liked that it was left open to interpretation and it certainly left me thinking about the series long after I had finished watching.
I loved The Sopranos, it is catapulted into my Top 5 TV Series I have watched and although it occasionally shows its age (I can’t remember the last time DVD Players were considered items worth stealing) it still holds up very well in modern times. With the upcoming prequel film “The Many Saints of Newark” expected to release later in the year, there has never been a better time to aquaint yourself with The Sopranos.