Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Sopranos Celebrates Fifteen Years

Could it really be fifteen years ago that we first saw Tony Soprano and Christopher Moltisanti kicking the crap out of a guy with unspeakable violence in that opening episode of HBO's groundbreaking - and rule changing - television drama, The Sopranos.  Alas, it was fifteen years ago this week that David Chase's crime family drama entered our TV-watching consciousness and forever changed the way we think and watch TV. Seriously, would there be a Walter White transforming from a cancer-sufferer and science teacher into meth cook and sinister crime kingpin if we didn't first develop a sympathetic and fascinated ear for the sounds and images of classic anti-hero Tony Soprano bearing his tortured soul to his psychiatrist, Dr. Melfi? Probably not. Or not this soon anyway.

Not only did David Chase change the genre by pushing the limits, but in working with HBO, he changed the rules and structure for how primetime shows are produced, packaged, and delivered.  The shorter seasonal format, where there were far fewer than the standard 22-27 episodes on network television, and the season began whenever the network was ready. This greater freedom allowed for greater creative control of the writers and an overall better production. In fact, the networks have struggled to catch up to the quality of dramas being produced by cable. And the show catapulted into our consciousness the incredible talent of one James Gandolfini, an incredible character actor who's gone too soon.

Recently, as the show's anniversary approached, there was time for the cast to reflect on the greatness of the show. Like many, I'm sure they had long considered the possibility for a Sopranos movie to give us another taste of that world that had so captivated us. But like the abrupt ending of the show, the death of James Gandolfini put an end to that hope. Thus, fans are left to appreciate the body of work that was left, and to reflect on a truly iconic piece of American culture.

No comments: