Looking back on The Sopranos

by Chris Traficante Featured 7 Comments 7 Votes 1568 Views 17/05/2012 Back to Articles

I often think back to films and television shows that captured me upon first viewing. Films like Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver, Bernardo Bertolucci's The Conformist and David Lynch's Blue Velvet all moved me to the point of studying and completing cinema studies at university level.

When it comes to television, however, there are series, like the films I've listed, that I can safely call 'influences'. David Chase's The Sopranos is, without doubt, an example of a series that helped to spark and sustain my interest in screen studies.

Looking back, Chase's series worked for many reasons. For one, its brilliant characterisation, comprising of melancholic mob bosses (James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano), deluded gangster wives (Edie Falco as Carmela Soprano) and loyal goons (Steve Van Zant as Silvio and Tony Sirico as Paulie) all did much to shoot the show to fame and acclaim upon airing in 1999.

Chase's conscious use of symbolism and motif, still, after years of ending, resonates with and perplexes audiences. What was it that Tony loved so much about animals, a type of affection he struggled to show towards people? How does one begin to define the ironic image of a gangster in a psychiatrist's office? What is the significance of Tony's dreaming, or Chase's illustrations of his subconscious?

Chase created a series that depicted the gritty, violent urbanity of New Jersey, a landscape that still amazes viewers upon review today. Images of Italian cuisine and the use of dialect in the script ('finook' and 'brazoot' come to mind) all work seamlessly and successfully together.

The show's setting, coupled with Chase's use of an eclectic soundtrack (as can be seen in many Bada Bing sequences throughout the series), makes this HBO creation a personal favourite of mine.

There are films and television shows that have significantly shaped my worldview. Whether we’re talking about selected films from Scorsese, Bertolucci or Lynch’s bodies of work, or even series like Chase's, these texts have shaped my love for the screen. The Sopranos, however, is a series that kick-started my love for small screen viewing.

By Chris Traficante

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Looking back on The Sopranos Comments

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Bloody great show! I have the entire box set and it kicks major ass :D

[MOG] Leasha
Started watching one day, and finished the lot in about 2 weeks.

Absolutely compelling. Not quite as good as Deadwood, but still up there.

Pilkingbod said: Started watching one day, and finished the lot in about 2 weeks.
Absolutely compelling. Not quite as good as Deadwood, but still up there.


'Deadwood' is a brilliant series, but 'The Sopranos', along with shows like 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' and 'The Wire' compete as being among HBO's best.
Great article. The Sopranos is a classic and great example of quality television, and even though it's not my favorite, it no doubt helped with the success of other serious premium drama cable tv shows like The Wire, Oz, The Shield, Mad Men and so on.

The Wire is still my favorite HBO show, though. :P

Tyrus said: Great article. The Sopranos is a classic and great example of quality television, and even though it's not my favorite, it no doubt helped with the success of other serious premium drama cable tv shows like The Wire, Oz, The Shield, Mad Men and so on.
The Wire is still my favorite HBO show, though.


Cheers for that, mate. Yeah, it's a brilliant series - each episode is so detailed that they feel like short films in themselves. 'The Oz' is a brilliant show - so brutal and unforgiving. [MOG]
I love all of these shows in particular because the television format allows you go get invested into the characters, the setting, the continuity and allows for solid development of all these aspects. A film is not sufficient for a good story in my opinion; too much has to be crammed into a short space of on average an hour and a half.

I've found myself these days watching less and less film and more and more premium television, though I've nearly watched all the good ones worth watching (currently suffering withdrawls from The Shield).

Ironically I haven't finished all of The Sopranos, though; maybe it's a sign...

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