The PoliBlog

The Collective

View My Stats
Monday, June 11, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Last night I watched roughly a minute of the Sopranos, having flipped over from the NBA Finals. As such, I really have no comment on the controversy over the finale.

Really, the only thing that struck me was that Tony Soprano sounded a lot more like Buddy Hackett than I otherwise would have expected.

Also: I have long found the Sopranos phenomenon interesting, because while the show has long been discussed in the mass media, the truth of the matter is, given that it is on HBO, that most people probably have no idea what is being talked about. It is clearly an elite-level phenomenon that is treated like it is a mass-level experience.

For example: it has been a key topic of discussion on ESPN Radio this morning, but how many of the people who tune into listen to sportstalk necessarily have HBO?

Sphere: Related Content

Filed under: Pop Culture | |


  • el
  • pt
    1. Great observation. I wouldn’t call it an elite taste as much as a limited taste. I’m certainly not in any elite, but I found the show to be more sophisticated than anything I ever saw on television. From the intro song of the first episode I was drawn into the life of a mob family seeing all its gruesomeness and black comedy.

      Its complexity scared off many because it’s really hard to jump into the middle of the series and catch up. So those that survived to the end watched it from the beginning.

      Comment by Sean Hackbarth — Monday, June 11, 2024 @ 9:40 am

    2. For example: it has been a key topic of discussion on ESPN Radio this morning, but how many of the people who tune into listen to sportstalk necessarily have HBO?

      Sopranos usually gets about 10 million people watching it on an average week. Compare that to major sports events from the last week like the French Open or the NHL finals and more people are watching Sopranos–its no wonder ESPN Radio is talking about it.

      I have actually never seen the show–although Im sure it was more interesting than Nadal’s victory over Federer yesterday at Roland Garros.

      Comment by Ratoe — Monday, June 11, 2024 @ 9:43 am

    3. By “elite” I meant in the general sense of term: limited to a smaller segment of the population limited mainly to people who can afford a premium cable service.

      And taster is part of it as well. I personally would probably have at least tried it out, but my wife doesn’t care for the gangster genre and would have been turned off by the violence and language.

      As such, I never got around to it.

      Indeed, back to the “elite” thing: I have only had HBO for less than two years, so my opportunity to watch was limited until recently.

      Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Monday, June 11, 2024 @ 9:44 am

    4. although Im sure it was more interesting than Nadal’s victory over Federer yesterday at Roland Garros.

      I don’t deny that.

      And, to be fair, no doubt more interesting than most of last night’s NBA Finals game, which I watched.

      Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Monday, June 11, 2024 @ 9:54 am

    5. And, to be fair, no doubt more interesting than most of last night’s NBA Finals game, which I watched.

      Definitely not more interesting than the Gold Cup match between Honduras and Mexico. After the wily Mexican forward Cuhatemoc Blanco got kicked out for elbowing a Honduran defender in the gut, Carlos Costly came alive for Honduras and scored two really beautiful goals, upsetting Mexico.

      Comment by Ratoe — Monday, June 11, 2024 @ 11:59 am

    6. Well, I must confess that I am not much of futbol fan, despite my Latin American bona fides.

      I look up the Nielsons, and last week anyway, the Sopranos had about 8 million viewers–slightly less than Are You as Smart as a Fifth Grader?

      Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Monday, June 11, 2024 @ 12:24 pm

    7. […] Ron Chusid is a little kinder about the ending: Ending the series by having life go on without a clean ending would have been fine. The problem is the manner in which this was done. Viewers shouldn’t have been left with the first reaction consisting of wondering if their cable went out. Fading out over a scene of a family dinner might not have created as much internet buzz tonight, but would have been a more conventional way in which to end. But then David Chase never wanted to be conventional. […]

      Joe McNulty Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
      June 11th, 2024 at 6:16 pm
      We are kidding ourselves trying to say the “The Sopranos” was superior to network TV because of its more liesurely pacing and characterization, like life where not all loose ends are tied up neatly. I have no problem with this, in theory. “The Sopranos” always demanded much of the audience: the insane length of time between “seasons,” which was chalked up to giving the writers time to think at a high level; the episodes (and whole seasons), where nothing much happened, which was chalked up to the need for full character development; the red herrings and feints, which were charked up to realistically reflecting the “messiness” of life; and the self-indulgent dream sequences, which were supposed to tell us something importnnt about the characters, I think. What I did not expect is using the FBI as a “deus ex machina” to allowing Tony to survive the mob war with Phil, who was then killed in front of his grandchildren, even though his daughter’s home was the first place anyone would look to find him. Was having him “fingered” by an FBI guy for some meaningless information regarding two Arabs really necessary? The FBI guy was taking sides in a mob war. Is he now an “ex officio” member of the DeMeo crime family? A more realistic ending would have had Tony and maybe his family (except Meadow, who is delayed by her parking problems) in the dinner. The show was always about Tony’s redemption — that he was really a good guy despite his doing terrible things. I think he crossed the line when he killed Christopher, his surrogate son and heir apparent, a helpless injured man and father. At that point, he became irredeemable. He is capable of anything. His reaction to murdering Christopher was totally without conscience. Why not have Rosalie Aprile betray him? She overheard him tell Carmella about the hideouts. Her boyfriend, Ralphie, was murdered (and dismembered!) by Tony. Her son was killed on Tony’s order in a way to make it look like drug dealers did it. She has to know or suspect. Or Paulie? He barely missed being murdered in Florida. What was his sin? A joke about Johnny Sac’s wife? Talking too much? Being a lonely old man — and a potential threat to Tony? He could have been the traitor. He was not hit, even though he is a captain, like Bobby and Silvio, both of whom were shot. He was guarding Tony in the safe house even though he was told to go home. He was reluctant to accept promotion because everyone who had headed the “crew” had undergone premature death. The show did not end as much as just stopped. It appears that the needs of commerce — movies or reunion shows, although Chase has given the impression that he was never stoop do anything so “cheesy” as a reunion show — take precedence. A better ending would have had Tony and perhaps A.J. and Carmella (since Phil’s girlfriend and her father, both “civilians,” had been killed) shot. The show would have ended with Phil doing business with Paulie (not quite a boss, but the head of a New Jersey crew with whom New York could do business). What a downer. This will leave a bad taste in the mouths of most “The Sopranos” fans.

      Comment by jmcnulty — Monday, June 11, 2024 @ 5:42 pm

    8. What’s remarkable about The Sopranos is that this was a TV show about reprehensible people and yet it lasted seven seasons(technically) in a span of eight years and amassed a horde of Emmys,Golden Globes, and SAG awards. Not bad considering that producer David Chase couldn’t sell this lemon to the networks back in 97 after it was shot. Chase’s story of a troubled don was too bloody for the networks. FOX wanted to make it a sitcom(thank GOD they didn’t). So HBO was already an edgy cable network with the gritty OZ under its belt, and The Sopranos was perfect for them. Character actor James Gandolfini(see him in True Romance) was Tony Soprano, a muderous, adulterous mob boss with “mom” issues who had to consult the sexy Dr. Melfi(tough as nails Lorraine Bracco) because of his frequent panic attacks. The fact that Gandolfini has won three Emmys for his role of the big, blustery, sly Tony Soprano is a testament to the man’s acting prowress. Critics have hailed him as a modern day Marlon Brando. The writing was high caliber. The stories were not simple. They unfolded in serial style or rather like chapters in a novel. There were story arcs. For instance, Tony starts seeing Melfi on a regular basis. When his son AJ gets in trouble at school, Tony is reminded of his own childhood, an eight year old learning of his dad’s rep as the neighborhood tough guy. We also learn that Tony’s mom Livia was indeed The Mother From Hell. Just watch the scene where she threatens to put a fork in his eye. Scary stuff! Flash forward to Tony Soprano, mob boss. An innocent, wide eyed little boy was transformed into The Beast because of his abusive mother and a loyalty to his late father, Johnny Boy Soprano. This is good stuff. Right? Chase and company knew what they were doing. It was like a soap opera with manicotti and bullets. Blood and Ragu. Life and Death. Tony liked to cheat on his brassy wife Carmela. He had a Russian hooker on the side. One day the hooker called Carm and told her all about her and Tony. Ding,ding. The fight was on. And some of those fights between Tony and Carm just showed how dynamic these two performers are. In one scene Carm undermines Tony as a parent so Meadow, Tony’s nubile daughter, snipes at her dad,”Some mafia boss you are!” All Tony had to was cross the room and get in his daughter’s face. “What did you say to me?” he seethed. And you could see murder in the man’s eyes. Powerful stuff! That’s why I fell in love with this show. Not because of the jarring violence or The Bada Bing Girls shaking their tits! The writing was deft, the acting was powerful and there were so many memorable scenes in this great show. Too many to place here. I hate to admit it but I think The Sopranos just bumped off Hill Street Blues even though it had the worst ending in television history!

      Comment by Tony A. — Friday, June 15, 2024 @ 12:35 am

    RSS feed for comments on this post.

    The trackback url for this post is:

    NOTE: I will delete any TrackBacks that do not actually link and refer to this post.

    Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

    Visitors Since 2/15/03




    Powered by WordPress