5/10 HBO is known for having really started the era of “The Golden Age” of television that we currently find ourselves in with shows like “The Sopranos”, “Deadwood” and “The Wire”. I have decided to check some of these shows out and chose “The Sopranos” as my next show to dive into since a prequel film, “The Many Saints of Newark” is scheduled to be released early next year (originally set for release this September until the Coronavirus pushed its release date back) and I wanted to watch the entire series before I see the prequel film. I had heard so many good things about this series but was very underwhelmed by this freshman season. Plenty of aspects do work, the biggest aspect being Tony Soprano himself. Not only does James Gandolfini give a terrific lead performance but what impressed me most about him was how well his character was written. I half expected him to be a typical tough guy Italian gangster cliché who was good at busting heads and yelling at people. Although he does do those things, we pleasantly get to see his softer side and his insecurities, delusions, depression, stress and a completely well rounded version of him that I loved. The acting all around is great and the dialogue is pretty solid, especially Tony Soprano’s. The last three episodes are the best of the season and ramp up the action and tension while moving the plot forward substantially. I like that Tony’s wife and kids are given ample screen time and the Italian family aspect is heavily developed. Those great aspects aside, let’s take a look at the many problems that season one has. The biggest problem is the overall story arc of season one. Most seasons of drama shows have a large overarching story that connects each episode, which the last three episodes here have. There are minor connecting threads but a lot of the episodes were random, bottled episodes where subplots last one episode and then don’t get followed up on because they aren’t very important and don’t serve the overall story of the first season. Sometimes, these subplots are not only quickly abandoned but are contradicted. For example, Carmela Soprano, Tony’s wife, has a whole episode where as a Catholic she really struggles with how immoral her husband’s work is and all the illegal stuff he does to provide for her, her kids and her lavish lifestyle. Yet, near the end of the season, Tony expresses how he has to kill some people and she is totally fine with it, almost encouraging him, contradicting her previously conflicted thoughts on the matter. Tony also goes from stressed but fairly normal to a manic depressant between episodes which was pretty jarring and not set up very convincingly. The season also starts slow and after most episodes end, there is no hook to make you want to immediately watch the following episode. A couple of rather unrealistic things happen (I feel like every crime/murder committed happens in broad daylight, yet no one is discovered) and some characters, like Tony’s mother (who we spend a lot of time with), becomes grating and slow the show down whenever they are onscreen. Some directors who directed episodes made their episodes stand out stylistically which somewhat took away from the overall similar feel that most episodes had. From hearing what an amazing show this is, I am hoping that the showrunners were just finding their footing in this debut season and that things will get better, similar to how “Deadwood” started. I look forward to future seasons but admit that this season was just a mediocre appetizer and I am hungry for my main course of spaghetti and meatballs.
#WhosTheBoss / #EnoughDead / #TonyAwardWorthyPerformance / #Therapissed / #ThisShowIsAGuaranteedHit / #GoToRatForTheOtherTeam