Cast: James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco, Michael Imperioli
'Family-Redefined'- That is the tagline and it kind of explains it. The first season of the series centers on New Jersey Mob Boss Tony Soprano, who is facing an existential crisis and is seeing a shrink to come to terms with it. His Uncle who is their boss albeit in name only, is having a power struggle with him and his mother is pulling the strings.
So I have finally started watching The Sopranos. When it comes to naming the best TV series of all time, it is usually a tossup between 'The Sopranos' and 'The Wire' for most people whose opinion I respect. Breaking Bad also comes up but I think its recency is a cause for it. I found it to be overrated and binned it after completing three seasons.
The mafia stories and crime families have been done to death in many films and there is even one character in this series who models himself as Al Pacino. For it to standout the treatment should be different and it is so. In mob films like Godfather the importance is given more to how macro-events in their business dealings affect their family, in 'The Sopranos' it is all about micro level feelings that the characters feel, especially the main protagonist and mob activities happen largely around the periphery. Same thing can be said about the film Donnie Brasco which is also a favorite of mine. Him seeing a shrink helps to convey the same to the audience and it is not just an exposition device since it also influences the plot in a great way.
The first season has been good but there is some episodic nature to it especially during the 5-9 episodes I think. I guess I have been spoiled by 'The Wire' which treated its audience with great respect and the motto for it was 'Every pieces matter'. Something minute that happened in one episode could come significant episodes or even seasons later. What I mean by episodic nature about Sopranos is that there are things that happen all of a sudden in one episode without any build up to it serving just as a plot device for that particular episode. The example for this would be Meadow Soprano's suicidal friend who apparently spends a lot of time in their house but that episode is practically the first time she is shown in it. I think we could forgive this since it is just the first season and I hope it changes over the subsequent seasons.
The late James Gandolfini carries the show and surprisingly enough he plays a vulnerable character unlike in the films that I have seen of him (True Romance, In the Loop, Killing Them Softly). Looking forward to watching the next season which I will start pretty soon.