Sopranos Autopsy

“Oh no, it’s another Sopranos website!  Aaahh!  Run for your life!!”

In an article written for The Nation in 2001 (“Our Mobsters, Ourselves”), Ellen Willis described The Sopranos as “the richest and most compelling piece of television—no, of popular culture—that I’ve encountered in the past twenty years…”  In the time since she wrote this, The Sopranos has been discussed in countless blogs, websites, online forums, books, essays, magazines, newspaper articles, college courses, radio shows and television interviews.  Fordham University hosted a three-day academic conference devoted to the series in May 2008.  Despite all of this, I feel that the individual episodes of The Sopranos have not really received the close scrutiny they deserve.

Of course, professional television critics such as Alan Sepinwall, Matt Zoller Seitz and Tim Goodman offered excellent real-time analysis of episodes in their blogs.  But these blogs often did not cover the entire series or are no longer available.  Professor Maurice Yacowar shared powerful, intelligent observations in his witty episode guide, The Sopranos on the Couch.  But his book, like most critical works on The Sopranos, have a shortcoming: they were produced, for the most part, while the series was still airing.  These publications do not have the benefit of hindsight or later reflection.  The authors’ insights from earlier seasons were never recalibrated with their later insights.  Another common glitch is that many authors were hampered by an obligation—usually a professional obligation—to not allow spoilers to appear in their work.  This is precisely what constricts Todd VanDerWerff’s analysis at avclub.com.  (It is nevertheless an exceptional resource.)

BUT IS IT ART?
Ellen Willis only went so far in 2001 to call the series a compelling piece of pop culture; even after comparing The Sopranos to the literary works of Dickens and George Eliot, she refrained from referring to the series as art.  There has been a long-standing hesitation by critics and commenters to apply the “A-word” to TV shows, even though the last 15 years have shown an increase (resurgence?) of quality programming that has effectively elevated the landscape of television.  Arguably no TV show has been as instrumental as The Sopranos in legitimizing television as a serious artistic medium.  (Although The Sopranos helped legitimize TV, the show did not completely transform it—advertisers, network executives and 24-hour news channels still perform daily lobotomies on millions of viewers.)

So how does The Sopranos qualify as art?  Chekhov wrote that great art does not need to provide all the right answers, but it does need to ask the right questions.  The Sopranos asks us to think about identity, morality, place, parenthood, religion, duty, culture—and that’s just in the first hour.  The series never provides clear-cut answers, we have to grapple with its uncertain truths just as its characters do.  The series is continually haunted by the ultimate question, and in Season 2, Anthony Jr. articulates this question outright: “What is the purpose of life?”  His grandmother’s response to him is sinister: “Why does everything have to have a purpose…it’s all a big nothing.”  Some viewers and critics marked this as the precise moment in which David Chase revealed the black nihilism of his series.  It seemed that the series was not depicting violence, betrayal, death and depression just for the sake of drama, but that The Sopranos was in fact a dark-hearted expression of meaninglessness itself.  The progressive darkening of SopranoWorld over the following seasons seemed to confirm this interpretation.

While The Sopranos certainly does go into some very dark territory, I think the series continuously pushes back against the idea that life is inherently meaningless.  One way it seems to do this is through connectivity.  Chase has spoken on occasion about his conscientious use of “connective tissue” within the series.  This connective tissue is formed narratively, photographically, musically and through allusion and dialogue.  Connectivity is an important way that David Chase argues that it is not all a big nothing, and exploring how connectivity works within the show will be one of the major occupations of this website.

This site will not be overly concerned with providing plot summaries, trivia and production details.  There are other resources, including HBO’s website and Wikipedia, that already do that.  This site is for those interested in a further understanding of the series.  (It should go without saying that every page will have spoilers galore.)  My main goal is to uncover how local techniques—that is, specific operations and arrangements within each episode—contribute to the overall design and significance of the series.  To do this, I will slice up scenes, dissect dialogue, probe characters and their motivations.  I will study the program’s organic televisual elements, such as camerawork, sound editing and set design.  I will examine the TV/film conventions that act as the skeleton upon which the series is built.  I’ll tweak every sinew and joint of The Sopranos that I need to in order to gain a better grasp of it.

Let’s begin this autopsy.

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159 responses to “Sopranos Autopsy

  1. I watched The Drop last week and it was good and James was great in it but the Sopranos will always be his masterpiece. Who knows, maybe he would have done something to surpass The Sopranos but we’ll never know now. Maybe the Drop will seem better with a second viewing, like the Sopranos which gets better and better with each viewing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You might have noticed in The Drop, Gandolfini raises his glass in a toast in his first scene. I brought my flask with me to the theater so that I could raise my bourbon and toast him right back. Buon’anima James.

      Liked by 4 people

      • I love that! Cheers to your website too, the Sopranos opened up the new “golden age” of TV and it is good to see it get the detailed attention you are giving it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for making this most amazing website. I’m currently rewatching this series with my high school senior son, and we’re having the best time analyzing the show. I first watched the show in a HUGE binge last spring, and have to say, am getting much more out of it the second time, especially since I read this blog. Here are the strengths of this blog, and your writing style in general: you have a great conversational tone, but the thinking/critique is really high level; you thin slice well. You are excellent at breaking apart dense ideas, providing examples, and then contextualizing ideas/content. Most importantly, at least to me, is that the way you point things out, especially visual examples, has somewhat trained me to do the same.

    Thanks for a great blog. I plan on using this as an example of excellent writing and analysis in the courses I teach.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, I appreciate that. The Sopranos still feels so fresh and current that it’s easy to forget it first began airing 15 years ago, which makes it “ancient history” in the minds of many young people – so it’s great to hear that your son is getting so into it. Happy Viewing to both of you!

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  3. I recently started a Sopranos rewatch, and your episode analysis is enhancing the experience immeasurably. Thanks for sharing this thoughtful, insightful work.

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  4. Hey Ron I really enjoy your analysis of Sopranos, when will the new ones be coming out?

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  5. Awesome site! Really enjoy your analysis after I watch each episode. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. thank u for doing this!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Having recently embarked on my 10th viewing of this incomparable series, I have just come across your site Ron & am now having a great time viewing an episode & then reading your analysis, which is providing even more Soprano hidden gems, most of which I thought I had previously uncovered. Little did I know. Great stuff & I am sure I am not alone in hoping you can get the site finished soon

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  8. I’m stunned by the level of depth you are bringing to these recaps. I always knew the Sopranos to be a deep show but holy crap I wouldn’t have guessed how clever it could be! Like the double meaning of “Boca”, and a hundred other examples. I truly hope you can complete the site, but thank you for what you’ve done so far.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Impressive site! Doing a rewatch now and I’m trying to decide if its better to read your recap and then watch the episode, or watch and then read….

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have been waiting for this blog to finish S05 and S06! I have learnt a lot from your posts! Please post your take on the rest of the episodes. Keeping my fingers crossed! Thank you!

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  11. Hi Ron, I just stumbled upon your blog. I’m so glad. It’s super smart and insightful. The Sopranos, like any great work, deserves a second, third look. As an Italian American, I totally agree w/ Melfi’s son that mob films are classics of American cinema. But more than that, David Chase has created something rare, timeless and important.
    RIP James Gandolfini.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This blog is to The Sopranos what Wesley Morris and Mark Kermode are to film. You elevate the show, and your insight makes me want to watch it again, and work toward my own thoughts regarding the show and other qualities that speak to literature and art. Cool shit, bro.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Ron! When will you post your analysis for the next episode??? I have been checking every day. I love your site tremendously!!! Your insight is great! Thanks…Claire

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  14. Hey Ron! Dying to read your “Calling all cars” analysis…..Like patience on a monument. 😉

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  15. Hi Ron!

    I am watching the Sopranos for the first time and reading your blog has really helped me understand the larger picture. This show is truly a masterpiece. I am only on Season 4 right now, but I look forward to reading your Season 5 + Season 6 analysis. Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Excellent Analysis

    Liked by 1 person

  17. So, have you given up, or will we see some additions to this WONDERFUL site soon?

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  18. First, glad to see 4.11 has been posted! I have been eager to read your thoughts on that one, as well as the rest of the series.

    We recently discussed the timeline of this show in a post I made on your excellent analysis of 4.01. In my comment, I noted that someone should try to make a Soprano’s timeline. A timeline for a show like this is not of any particular importance, but simply because I’m really anal about stuff like this, I needed to try my hand at making one. So here are my findings.

    Note: while I tried to do the best job I could, in no way would I claim this to be perfect. Even at points when I thought I had it all figured out, the show would throw a curve ball by veering back in time or ahead in time (based on cultural references made or seasonal events that took place in particular episodes), so consider this an approximation at best.

    Season 1: June 1999 – October 1999
    1.01 is obviously 1997, but let’s retroactively bump it up to 1999, since otherwise there’s a two year gap between the pilot and 1.02. Actually, I would have placed this entire season in 1998 (the summer/fall before it aired), but the events of 1.04, for example, make clear that the action takes place in 1999 (that episode in July, to be more specific)

    Season 2: May 2000 – June 2000
    Without a doubt the hardest season to pinpoint. We have a clear end point, as the finale is Meadow’s graduation, and the banners place her in the Class of 2000. The rest is tricky, as we know it’s only been a few months since the events of 1.13, but 2.01 features a scene with Tony and Janice out by the Soprano’s pool. In the Northeast, pools are rarely opened prior to Memorial Day weekend, so, theoretically, all the action of the season takes place over the course of a single month, which seems unlikely. But then, there are no seasonal changes throughout the season at all – it seems to be summery from beginning to end. The timeline is further confused by the fact that much of the season is spent covering Meadow’s college applications and school sponsored college nights, none of which would take place a month before graduation.

    Season 3: September 2000 – Late January 2001
    The easiest season to pinpoint, as it starts with Meadow settling in at college for her freshman year, and the finale features references to the 2001 Super Bowl

    Season 4: September 2002 – September 2003
    The trickiest part here is figuring out whether the story picks up in 2001 or 2002. It obviously starts in September (AJ has just returned to school), and progresses into October by 4.03 (Columbus Day). Though there are references that could place us in September 2001 (the newspapers AJ gets at school are from 2001), things seem far too “normal” to be directly after 9/11, and references made to 9/11 make it seem like time has elapsed. So, I place the start in September 2002. By 4.10 Svetlana notes that her boyfriend is in Florida for Mets Spring training, and by the end of the season we seem to be in the fall again (Meadow’s birthday is in September, isn’t it?). This season seems to cover the longest span of time.

    Season 5: March 2004 – November 2004
    Things start off with the weather still cold (Benny needs his fleece, after all), and we know it’s 2004 with all the references to the released mobsters as the “class of 2004. The season progresses through the summer months (the pool party in 5.08, Meadow’s sweltering apartment in 5.09), by 5.12 leaves are on the ground as Silvio takes Adriana on a fateful ride. And who can forget Johnny Sack’s face full of snow in the finale?

    Season 6a: April 2005 – December 2005
    Like Season 2, the end is the easiest part to figure out, as the final scene of the season takes place around the family Christmas tree. Carmela goes out to rent Cinderella Man in 6.11 which released on DVD in December 2005. We seem to start in the spring, based on weather and the Terri Schiavo references.

    Season 6b: July 2006 – March 2007
    The headline on Tony’s Star-Ledger flashes “2007 Budget Passes” as the headline, but if you freeze frame, the article is talking about the New Jersey government shutdown which took place in July 2006, and also references the Carolina Hurricanes winning the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals. By 6.17 it’s clearly fall (dress styles, fall colors on trees as Paulie destroys Christopher’s yard, etc), and Carmela notes that she and Meadow saw Rachel Ray on Leno (she appeared on the show in early November 2006). 6.18 features Chris and Tony listening to The Departed soundtrack (the movie released on October 2006). In 6.19 Meadow talks about watching Borat at home, which would place us early into 2007. By the finale, everyone is dressed for winter.

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    • Very nicely done, thanks for posting this

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    • Season 1: June 1998 – April 1999
      Pilot takes place explicity in June 98, the Star Ledger Tony holds up is dated June 17th 1998. This would explain why he’s being treated as the Boss; Jackie’s in the hospital with his first bout of cancer. Let’s say Nobody Knows Anything is around January ’99. In Isabella, at Marolina’s wake, just days before the hit on Tony, Junior holds up Marolina’s prayer card and her date of death is March 24th, 1999. Give it a few weeks between Isabella and the final episode and we’re in April ’99.

      Season 2: May 1999– June 2000
      Pussy comes back nearly half a year later. It’s taken Junior three weeks to put Tony on his visitor’s list, suggesting he’s not been in jail long. Also, another clue is that Chris says Christmas 2000 is the first Christmas Puss wasn’t Santa, so he had to be back to be Santa for Christmas 99. Also, in Season 3, the FBI listens to a tape of Tony and Puss discussing the Bevilaqua hit in past tense. Tape is dated 3/28/00, suggesting Matt’s murder was in February or March 2000. And it’s already mid season when he’s killed, so Puss has been back for a while. Another hint is when Hunter gets her college acceptance letter back. Early acceptance letters usually come in December, so that’s Dec 99; we just skip Christmas. AJ’s confirmation, like all confirmations, is likely in May 2000. The June 2000 end date is concrete. However, another clue that Season 1 began in 98 is that at Tony’s session the day of Meadow’s graduation, she says he’s been treating him for two years. June 2000 – 2 years = June 98.

      Season 3: September 2000 – Late January 2001
      The easiest season to pinpoint, as it starts with Meadow settling in at college for her freshman year, and the finale features references to the 2001 Super Bowl

      Season 4: September 2001 – September 2003
      The trickiest part here is figuring out whether the story picks up in 2001 or 2002. It obviously starts in September (AJ has just returned to school), and progresses into October by 4.03 (Columbus Day). Though there are references that could place us in September 2001 (the newspapers AJ gets at school are from 2001), things seem far too “normal” to be directly after 9/11, and references made to 9/11 make it seem like time has elapsed. By 4.10 Svetlana notes that her boyfriend is in Florida for Mets Spring training, and by the end of the season we seem to be in the fall again (Meadow’s birthday is in September, isn’t it?). This season seems to cover the longest span of time.

      Season 5: March 2004 – December 2004
      Things start off with the weather still cold (Benny needs his fleece, after all), and we know it’s 2004 with all the references to the released mobsters as the “class of 2004. The season progresses through the summer months (the pool party in 5.08, Meadow’s sweltering apartment in 5.09), by 5.12 leaves are on the ground as Silvio takes Adriana on a fateful ride. And who can forget Johnny Sack’s face full of snow in the finale?

      Season 6a: April 2005 – December 2005
      Like Season 2, the end is the easiest part to figure out, as the final scene of the season takes place around the family Christmas tree. Carmela goes out to rent Cinderella Man in 6.11 which released on DVD in December 2005. We seem to start in the spring, based on weather and the Terri Schiavo references.

      Season 6b: July 2006 – March 2007
      The headline on Tony’s Star-Ledger flashes “2007 Budget Passes” as the headline, but if you freeze frame, the article is talking about the New Jersey government shutdown which took place in July 2006, and also references the Carolina Hurricanes winning the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals. By 6.17 it’s clearly fall (dress styles, fall colors on trees as Paulie destroys Christopher’s yard, etc), and Carmela notes that she and Meadow saw Rachel Ray on Leno (she appeared on the show in early November 2006). 6.18 features Chris and Tony listening to The Departed soundtrack (the movie released on October 2006). In 6.19 Meadow talks about watching Borat at home, which would place us early into 2007. By the finale, everyone is dressed for winter.

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      • A couple more pinpoints added to sonic’s timeline… I appreciate the attention to detail you’ve both put into it.

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      • I didn’t notice this until just now! Nicely done! As I said in my original post, my attempt was an approximation at best. I think you made some well reasoned changes. Couple of additional thoughts:

        Season 1: I can’t argue with concrete stuff like Tony’s newspaper in the pilot and the prayer card. You’re right on both. It’s hard for me to buy 1.11 Nobody Knows Anything as January. I mean, just look at the scene where Tony is meeting with Vin at the marina. January in north Jersey does not look like that, and people wouldn’t be dressed like that. Everyone is in short sleeves throughout the episode, and there’s lush greenery in many shots. We run into the same problems with 1.09 where they’re all out playing golf, or 1.10 where they’re hanging out at the horse stables at Hesh’s house, and it’s very clearly not winter. In short, I think your timeline for this season is ultimately correct, but the show exists in some weird version of New Jersey that’s secretly located somewhere on the west coast of Florida.

        Season 2. Your version of this season’s timeline makes a lot more sense than mine, as it’s very unlikely all the action took place over a single month. Like Season 1, I guess what threw me off is the lack of winter scenes. I’ll buy your version. One thing that’s been made clear from our detective work is that the first two seasons didn’t have the production budget of the later seasons. Everything from Season 3 on is better about actually matching up visually with ‘where’ it is in time.

        Season 4. I’ve wanted to change my original thoughts on this one for a while, but there isn’t an ‘edit’ feature. I agree with you that it starts in September 2001, though I think it runs for one year instead of two.

        Season 5. I noticed we were in complete agreement, except that you bumped the end date ahead a month to December. Was there a Christmas reference in there I missed?

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Well, at least you’re still responding to comments. I’ll keep checking. Really looking forward to your season 6 observations.

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  20. Just found your site and it looks like a goldmine. I’m currently re watching the series, which I’ve seen AT LEAST five or six times through. Sometimes I watch episodes out of sequence simply because they’re so artfully crafted. It still never gets old and I’m still noticing new details. Looking forward to reading through all your articles.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. We want Whitecaps
    *clap**clap**clap**clap**clap*
    We want Whitecaps
    *clap**clap**clap**clap**clap*

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Hey Ron,
    Haven’t seen a new post in months… is this AMAZING site still active?

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  23. Hello, I just wanted to tell you how brilliant you are in writing these write ups! I am such a HUGE Sopranos fan that I’m probably on my tenth go around of the entire series..and still learning something new. I’m so obsessed with the show that whenever I go to the Willowbrook Mall I have to drive over to North Caldwell to drive by the house. I also always drive by Livia’s house in Verona when in the area. I literally live within 15 minutes of all the locations i.e., Holsten’s, Nori Sushi, the motel from “College”, Bada Bings, Fairfield Motors, etc. – where so many great scenes were shot. I still get in awe knowing that the great James Gandolfini and the other brilliant actors were in those actual spots. Anyway, I just discovered your site two days ago and now learning even more with your in-depth comments & observations. You truly are amazing. Just wanted to thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Carmine. It’s nice to see that many of the locations are still there, untouched. The iconic sign for “Collision World” autobody shop is no longer there but I snapped a photo of it before it disappeared (and made it the header pic for my 2.01 write-up)…

      Like

  24. Thank you!
    Your site is my favorite part of the whole internet.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Really excellent write ups here. Hope you keep it up!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Incredible analysis. You’ve done a wonderful job pulling together different sources and information for each episode. Please, please, please keep writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Amazing work! I was wondering if you have plans to continue/complete your season 5 episode entries at some point?

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  28. Hey Ron..really you are helping so much by giving so many perspectives on the greatest show ever…and I am dying to read your take on the most edgy episodes..season 6 “Join the club” and “Mayham”…hoping you write them soon.

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  29. So happy to have found your blog! I am a giant fan of film analysis (could watch the Zizek “Pervert’s Guides” movies over and over) and your insights are the best. My boyfriend and I are watching the Sopranos for the first time, and after each episode I can’t wait to read your take. Don’t worry, I don’t mind spoilers. It’s been absolutely excellent so far. We just saw “poor” Ralphie’s exit. Your observations make it even better. Please keep ’em comin’! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Hi Ron! This is yet another Sopranos admirer here to say I love your write-ups! I recently re-watched the entire series and read your recaps along with it, and it really enhanced the experience. So thank you for putting all these together.

    Question regarding writing these: do you write them one at a time, publishing immediately after finishing an episode, or do you write out multiple episodes first for the sake of, as you call it, connectivity?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jack. I’d prefer to do them one at a time but I usually end up working piecemeal on 3 or 4 simultaneously, because I get stuck on one and then move on to another, and then another… Maybe I’m unwittingly channeling Jackson Pollock, who used to work on multiple canvasses for this same reason…

      Liked by 1 person

  31. I don’t know if this would qualify for your Reading List, but have you read this piece?

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2007/08/16/a-northern-new-jersey-of-the-mind/

    I think it’s one of the best I’ve ever read about the show, it really gets what it was about.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Anyone know when the rest will be published??? They’re amazing. And as addictive as the show itself. Great insight.

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  33. Looking forward for the rest of the episode reviews, especially of “The Test Dream”. Great, insightful and interesting work you’ve done here.

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  34. Excellent analysis. Very meticulous with the detail. I blew through most of these articles in a few days and now look forward to every new one posted. I check almost every day for a new one. Keep it up.

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  35. when do you think we’ll get the rest of review for season five ?

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    • They’re coming soon…

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      • Brother, Ron. You’re killing me. I found your site and re-watched it, reading your episode reviews as I went along. I’ve gleaned so much insight from your analysis. Now I’m close to the end of Season 6 and I’d absolutely LOVE to read what you have to write about the later episodes. I’m one of the few people who thinks Season 6 is every bit as good as the rest of the series and was wondering what you thought about that as well. Good luck with everything. We appreciate you.

        Liked by 1 person

  36. Hi Ron,

    thanks for the work and effort you put into this site. The value of the information gathered here is amazing.

    I am a late-comer to the show. I first watched The Sopranos in the summer of 2013, long after the last episode had aired. And in the year that James Gandolfini sadly passed away. When I learned about his death, I loaded the entire 6 seasons onto my i-Pad and took them on our summer holliday. I watched the entire show in about 45 days. At least one episode per day, often 2 or even 3 in a day. Some days I ended being so hooked on it, that I found myself sitting outside with my i-Pad at 3 in the morning, seriously hesitating to start yet another episode.

    With hindsight, it was too much in too short a time. I plan to rewatch them now at a one episode per week rate, starting with Mergers and Acquisitions in season 4. I may rewatch the prior episodes later. But for now, the plan is to go from Mergers and Acquisitions to Made in America, as I remember season 5 and 6 being my favourite ones.

    I plan on rewatching the episodes with the rewind/repeat control within immediate reach this time. As much as I adore the show, I often find it hard to entirely grasp the dialogues and their exact meaning, or the insinuations they contain. The show heavily draws upon contempary American popular (sub-) culture(s) and customs which, for Europeans, often makes is it difficult to catch on to. Some additional reading about episodes re-wacthed should allow to get a deeper inside. Your blog is just brilliant for that. Just as are Todd VanderWerf’s reviews on AVClub.

    For a laymen to American popular (sub)culture(s), they offer an invaluable guide to a better understanding of the show. Examples are the “dago macho principles”-comment that Valentina makes to Tony in Mergers and Acquisitions, or Lorraine Calluso being referred to as Lady Shylock. At the first viewing, I did not even notice these. Now, I did some research and get the true meaning. Many thanks for that.

    As to the question that seems to be one of the compasses on your journey through Sopranoworld, is the show art, my opinion is simply: yes. Movies are, nowadays, commonly accepted as the seventh form of art. It’s therefore hard to claim that a show like the Sopranos would not be art. It’s tempting to say that television shows are to movies what comics are to novels.

    Firstly, some comics are truly art. Just as certain television shows are art.

    As to the Sopranos, I think it is selling the show short. Shows like the Sopranos are rather to movies what saga’s are to novels. Or as the French so prozaically cal it: “un roman fleuve”.

    Looking forward to (re)discover the series with you.

    Cheers,

    Tom

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Tom.. I’ve noticed that more than 1/4 of the visitors to this site are from foreign countries, and I always figured it was because they were just being exposed to the series for the first time now. But your point about American subcultures and customs needing some explanation may be what is actually driving offshore traffic here…

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  37. This is one of my favorite websites. Looking forward to further posts! Please break into season 6 soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  38. I love this site, it improves my views so much! I’m in the middle of season four and I can’t wait for you to post the rest of the series (I’m afraid that I will pass you by hahaha). Greetings from Brasil!

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  39. This is great! Hello everyone. First-time winner here. Nice to meet youse all ;D and grazie Don Ron of tele-art-wisdom. I’m binge-watching now. I would love to talk to someone about Molti-recovery and or just all-things-Jersey. No one mentions taylor ham, that’s the only thing they forgot. I love this series more and more and am grateful for this site.

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  40. Any new write ups coming? LOVE this site, but at the current rate, I fear I will be older than Uncle Junior by the time Made in America rolls around.

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  41. Jake Richards

    Just gotta say I love the write ups and the amount of fresh insight and information you provide on episodes I thought I’d already figured out. I treat this show like a soap opera, in the sense that I usually watch an episode or two every day without it ever feeling stale and I suppose a lot of that has to do with the sheer depth of the writing and the analysis it encourages. Really looking forward to reading your take on the rest of the series as I feel the psychology gets much more complex as it goes on.
    Many thanks for your continued effort!

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  42. Nice job. I still watch some episodes from time to time and like to read your reviews.

    Liked by 1 person

  43. Would you consider compiling this website into a book when it’s done? Because if so, at least one person would buy it. Me, that is.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Saw this today, and thought you and your audience might be interested as well.

    http://ew.com/tv/2017/06/12/the-sopranos-adriana-death/

    Liked by 1 person

  45. Does anyone have a list of Sopranos episode reviews that are currently available? I’ve only found the AVClub. This site is great, but I’ve outrun it (on Season 6 now)…

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  46. Any update on when the other reviews are coming out? Just anxious!

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  47. Hi. I would like to tell you that your page fascinates me.

    I was wondering if you know pages where similar series like “breaking bad” or “mad men” are analyzed in a similar way

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  48. Hi Ron! INCREDIBLE write-ups for an INCREDIBLE show! I recently saw somewhere – tweet? – you said you would be finishing season six soon? I’m going to start rewatching and try to time it so we both reach the finale at the same time!!

    Like

    • Hahaha I did send out a drunken tweet on New Years day. I’ll definitely try to finish it by the end of the year – it wasn’t just the vodka talking!

      Like

  49. Excellent analysis on an amazing program. I have been a fan of the show since its first airing. I remember when I first heard of this show- there was a two page add in Rolling Stone magazine. I recognized Jimmy Gandolfini from True Romance, Tony Sirico from Goodfellas and Van Zandt from Springsteen. The add is what drew me in; these people look interesting, but not much different from the common person on the street. And, what is with the logo, a gun for the “r”?

    I can say without a doubt I was addicted from the first episode. The defining moment for me was when Livia drove into her friend in the driveway…”This street…another pain in the ass…” LOL. I recorded the entire first season and would re-watch each episode immediately after. I began telling people about it, how they MUST to see this show. Isn’t is amazing no matter how many times you watch this series, something else always jumps out at you? There is always something that may have been missed. Chase did an exceptional job here- the writing, the music, the locations, the actors, the directors. Wow. I haven’t committed to watching a series since The Sopranos, I believe I have witnessed television at its very best.

    Your website adds a fresh perspective to a show I have watched at least 15-20 times all the way through. I am not big on rating seasons or episodes either, but I always felt the series took a dark turn somewhere in season 4, but never truly realized it until reading your analysis. The real world events (9/11) definitely had major influence on the writing, which reflected present day feelings of uncertainty. While the show as a whole is beyond words, seasons 1 & 2 will always have a special place to me. And I think the wait from season 1 to season 2 was even worse than the hiatus’s we would see later in the series. All I could think of in the summer and fall of 1999 was, fuck I hope they continue this show!

    Excellent work Ron, glad to see all us Sopranos fanatics coming together.

    Like

    • Thanks David. That scene you mention stacks three “asses” on top of one another: Livia says “pain in the ASS,” and then she runs into her friend FANNY, and then Fanny’s ASS smacks right into the windshield. There’s nothing like The Sopranos in TV history – no other show was as fearlessly committed to exploring the complexities of the human condition and, at the same time, wasn’t above throwing in a cheap butt-joke every now and then…

      Like

  50. Well played, young man. Well played.

    Liked by 1 person

  51. Hi Ron, been following silently for a while, and I loved the blog so far. Best online analysis I’ve had the pleasure to read, not only of the series but of any pop cultural piece in general. I don’t know if you’ve seen this yet, but it looks like soon enough you may have more Soprano-themed material to talk about:
    http://deadline.com/2018/03/david-chase-the-sopranos-prequel-movie-the-many-saints-of-newark-new-line-1202319202/
    Really looking forward to your analysis of the rest of Season 6, as well as your opinion on the (hopefully) upcoming “Many Saints of Newark” 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the kind words. Chase has been hinting for a long time that he would do a prequel, I’m thrilled that he’s going forward with it. This is the first I’m hearing about it, thanks for letting me know.

      Liked by 1 person

  52. Hi, I’m citing your work in a book I’m writing and need to know your author information!

    Like

  53. Oh sorry, found it in the extras page! Thank you

    Like

  54. Rigo St. Anthony

    Hi Ron, You’ve created such a wonderful site for all things Soprano, I just discovered it. I will be in the NY/New jersey area next month and your site along with my travel guides will be my reading material during the trip. Can’t wait to continue reading (and to try those famous fried Jersey hot dogs!)

    Like

  55. Any chance you could add an RSS feed so we don’t miss your posts?

    Like

  56. There’s certainly something between the road violations within the episode. Jackie is shown to be infantile with his choice of cereal, his deviancy and running a stop sign when she halts his advances in the car. Then Meadow in a drunk state crashed her car, and Tony then drives the wrong way out of the car dealership

    Liked by 1 person

  57. Just finished the series for the first time a few moments ago. It was amazing. I will enjoy reading your analysis of some key stand out episodes. Thank you for this.

    Like

  58. Came across this article the other day. It’s not new, but I hadn’t read it before. Thought you might be interested, particularly in connection to D-Girl.

    https://www.gq.com/story/sopranos-james-gandolfini-david-chase-july-2013

    Like

    • I remember when this came out, it’s essentially an excerpt from Brett Martin’s “Difficult Men” which came out about two weeks after Gandolfini died. Martin was primarily a food writer before he started writing about the Sopranos but it is a well-informed article, thanks for the link.

      Like

  59. Hi Ron
    I’ve just finished reading the article
    That you recommended in ‘the test dream’ analysis, ‘Tony’s vicarious patricide’. Really interesting stuff, particularly the idea of Tony’s subconscious rage towards his father and how it manifests; but Tony’s failure to confront this because then he would have to deal with his own life choices and its wasted potential.

    I wanted to ask you though; do you think that this subconscious allergy to his father is the reason that Tony is actively prejudiced to characters such as Richie, feech, Ralph and Phil ? It strikes me that in conspiring to have his son whack someone, with a lot of other mobster fathers having avoided this fateful act for their sons, Johnny boy is the ultimate ‘stone gangster’, and Tony sees this vicious patriarchy in the mobsters of Johnny Boy’s generation like feech and Richie (who are both mentioned in season 5 as examples of violent, defiant old-school mafioso) and in Ralph the manic evil that would order their own vulnerable offspring to murder someone.

    Anyway hope all is well, it’s nice to see you’re continuing this site, I’m really looking forward to your analysis of kaisha

    Thanks

    Alex

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you may be on to something Alex… but I wonder where Corrado would fit into the theory. Corrado is not only a member of Johnny Boy’s generation, he is his flesh-and-blood, yet Tony continuously makes an effort to work with him and get along with him personally (for most of the series, anyway…) But you’re right, Tony does seem to have a harder time getting along with some of the older generation (although that goes both ways — the old guys are too proud to give “youngster” Tony due respect).

      Like

      • Hi Ron
        I think it depends on how much responsibility we (and Tony) prescribe to junior for leading Tony to his way of life; I’ve always felt that junior would have been happy that Tony was an athlete as much as he was happy that Tony was a gangster, in season one he made several suggestions of pride in Tony’s athleticism, saying how Tony could have made the baseball pros, and teaching Tony how to body-surf. It is only in gangster politics and Junior’s advancing age does Junior’s vicious side come out. However in dealing with Richie Aprile in season 2 Tony starts to have panic attacks, in dealing with Feech does he feel intense rage and then sadness in having to send him back to prison, and dealing with Phil he is constantly frustrated. All of these characters have an edge to them very similar to Johnny boy. But that article ‘Tony’s Vicarious Patricide’ was very interesting, what was your overall opinion of it?

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’m usually pretty skeptical of any attempts at in-depth armchair-psychology but I think Elizabeth Lowrey has a brilliant mind and a persuasive pen so I find the “Patricide” essay fascinating..

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  60. I don’t know if you watch The Deuce, but Michael Gandolfini has a small role in the second season, and it’s amazing how much he looks like Tony in any of the flashback scenes to Tony’s teen years. The Deuce is set in the same time period depicted in those flashbacks, so he’s even wearing the same type of clothing as the actor playing young Tony.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t watched The Deuce but I’ve heard about Michael’s resemblance. It might be interesting if Chase could find a way to include him in the upcoming prequel…

      Like

      • I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if that happened. I’ll also note that watching Michael’s character on The Deuce charm hookers every week feels like the closest I’ll ever get to seeing James as Tony Soprano ever again, and that makes me a little sad.

        Liked by 1 person

  61. When are you gonna post part two of season 6?? It’s long past mid 2018, and I’m dying over here!! Plz hurry! 🏃🏽‍♂️

    Liked by 1 person

  62. Louie Cuthbertelli

    More appreciation here for this excellent blog of analysis. Love it just as much as I love the show.

    Liked by 1 person

  63. I loved watching it, and did so quite a few times after buying the box set. But one thing intrigued me – why the obsession with eliminating any mention of a precise date? I may be wrong, but it seems in all the seven years of the series, the precise date (of the story reality) is never mentioned and never appears on an image (for example, on Tony’s morning newspaper). Once only did I catch site of a calendar in the mob’s office – but it wasn’t readable. One thing is clear, that the time in the serial is real, as at the end the two children are seven years older than at the start. Is this because tying the story time down to a precise date would have complicated the weaving in to the story of references to real facts, such as the Rico Act?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Possibly, and it may also have been that Chase was trying to create something timeless, something that later generations could enjoy without it feeling too dated. (It almost shocks me to think that the Pilot first aired about 20 years ago.) Nevertheless, it is possible to create a general timeline for the show, as sonicbluesea and Ry have done above…

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  64. Hey Ron, hope you had a good Christmas; I was just wondering when you were going to review Kaisha; I happen to love the montage where Chris and Julianna are smoking heroin and watching a movie. I think it’s about the only time in the whole series Chris looks peaceful.

    Liked by 1 person

  65. Today is the day! 20th anniversary! Best TV show of all time!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yup, 20 years—hard to believe! I love how many events and interviews and articles there have been about the show in the last few weeks leading up to today, it just demonstrates how relevant and significant The Sopranos still is…

      Liked by 1 person

  66. Hey man, love your articles.
    I am getting more and more excited for The Many Saints of Newark. Three casting news today. I’m thinking Jon Bernthal is Johny Boy and Vera Farmiga for Livia, they kinda look like them. Don’t know who Corey Stoll could be though, maybe somebody we haven’t heard or seen before? What do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

  67. No Johnny Cakes review ?

    Liked by 1 person

  68. Ron, I’ll have you know I’ve been checking this page for at least a month waiting for your next synopsis, lol.

    Liked by 2 people

  69. Hi Ron,
    Massive fan of this site. I was wondering, you sometimes mention Mad Men as being in the same kind of ballpark as The Sopranos as being academically rewarding TV (for lack of a better term), I’m 7 episodes in and struggling a little so far. Can you reccomend an in-depth Mad Men episode analysis to perhaps increase my appreciation of the show, much like yours does The Sopranos? I found the AV Club which was terrible, and then an essay by a critic on why he hates the show, further solidifying my own feelings. Its not that I hate it, I just feel like im missing something. Thanks in advance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t actually read it, but Carousel, by Matt Seitz, has gotten good reviews. You wouldn’t know what the name “Carousel” refers to if you’re only seven episodes in—you’ll have to reach the Season One finale to get it. (Don Draper’s pitch for “the carousel” in that episode was the moment that I—like many others—fell in love with the series.)

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks Ron! Much obliged. I will get to the end of series one and then check Carousel out.
        Meanwhile I’m still getting through your write ups. Each one is an absolute treat. I’m taking my time so I don’t catch up to where you’ve written! But take your time, you just can’t rush this sort of thing.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Stick with Mad Men. You won’t regret it. Not that the first two seasons aren’t good (they’re excellent), but the show really starts hitting its stride around the third season, and then never looks back.

          Liked by 1 person

  70. Well ,this site is about the Sopranos, and can’t start to discuss all the television series around, but as it’s been mentioned, I feel like saying that I was disappointed by Mad Men. It started out well, with interesting potential plots to develop around Don Draper and his past. And also one of (may be the) most interesting characters in the story, Don’s wife Betty. But for me the plot didn’t follow through. It became superficial. It was often funny, good fun to watch, with all the work-time drinking and sex, but in the end it lacked depth and coherence for me – certainly not comparable to the Sopranos, which had so many layers going on through the whole 7 years.

    Liked by 1 person

  71. I just want to tell you that I keep reading books about the Sopranos that you mention, but they aren’t as interesting or as in depth as your writing. I love reading people’s comments because it makes me feel like I am discussing it with a group of people even though we aren’t in the same room. I guess we are discussing it but the only thing that is missing is responses to what I write most of the time.Its impossible to leave a response on every comment. Especially me since I comment repeatedly!! Anyway, I look forward to your blogs and I will be sad when you finish writing about the series. 😀

    Like

  72. I think we have another take from Chase regarding the medical community’s ability to properly address potential psychological issues. We had AJ’s borderline ADD diagnosis in part because he “fidgets” (“What constitutes a fidget?). Now we have Tony falling into a horrible funk complete with full fledged hallucinations while on an increased dosage of Prozac and lithium. Even when Tony thought the Prozac was helping early on, Melfi tells him it hasn’t had time to help him. Obviously not a central theme of the series, but I find it interesting nonetheless.

    Liked by 1 person

  73. I always thought the beacon was from The Inn at the Oaks, or The Entrance to Hell, which is lit up like a Christmas tree. After all, the devil would have exquisite taste and hell would certainly be more appealing than Paulie’s version: “Hell is hot! That’s never been disputed by anyone.” Perhaps it’s not so much hot as just incredibly well lit.

    Liked by 1 person

  74. Not sure if anyone has asked you yet – have you read the Sopranos Sessions by Zeitz/Sepinwall, or are you waiting until you finished the entire writeup?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I read many of those writeups years ago in their original form as they appeared in The House Next Door blog and the Star-Ledger’s website but yes, I’ve also read Sopranos Sessions. (Well, most of it anyway.)

      Like

  75. Hey Ron – I’ve really been enjoying my first re-watch of the Sopranos (since it first aired) – your site makes the whole experience so much richer. I don’t realize, until I was in Season 4, that you hadn’t finished your analysis of the series. I dreaded catching up to you and now that I’m past you, I feel like I’m just skimming the surface. I’m dying for you to get to the last episode! Thanks for the great work!

    Liked by 1 person

  76. I love your work man!

    Like

  77. Hey Ron, really loving your season 6 part 2 write-ups, really looking forward to your write ups of the latter episodes especially chasing it, walk like a man, Kennedy and Heidi, and the second coming. Speaking of chasing it I wanted to ask you about your interpretation of tony’s Cash flow. At the a.v. club Todd vanderwerff argues that the series discretely depicts tony’s Cash flow and earning power depleting beginning with season 4, and while there is ample evidence to support this argument, it seems to me that you feel differently, that tony’s Cash flow is not the argument of the series. David chase also mentioned in an interview that the series was supposed to depict tony’s Fall even as he was rising, and it certainly feels that the series depicts tony’s Moral erosion with his at times massive acquisition of material possessions.

    However, the opening of season 4 does seem to give Vanderwerff’s argument some credibility; Vanderwerff makes a good point that whilst tony talks of money in offshore accounts, which we have seen him contribute to via the Russian mafia accountants, he does seem more frantic about money than usual, going to great lengths to stash money around the estate, looking anxiety prone when Carmela asks him what if, chewing out his captains about the lack of funds, and claiming cash flow problems to junior, which Vanderwerff claims contradicts his statement about the money in an offshore tax haven. However, I’m certain that tony would never be so reckless with his family’s financial future, but what do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Alex. You’re right, I don’t focus too much on T’s stash of cash. But it’s an interesting question. I basically agree with you, Tony seems responsible and competent enough to make sure his family will be taken care of. He does fret and complain about money issues sometimes, but I think it’s very common for a person to excessively and irrationally worry about the thing that defines them—for Tony, that thing is money. In “Chasing It,” for example, he hems and haws throughout the episode about paying back Hesh’s $200k loan, but in the end he has no trouble at all rounding up the cash. (More on this in my write-up which will be coming out later today…)

      Like

  78. Hello. I am very happy to find such a website. I watched The Sopranos already 2 times. It is the best tv series I have ever seen, and I am sure it will remain so. It is mostly because of the hidden messages during all of the episodes. I have read your posts for the first two episodes, your observations are obviously deeper than mine. That’s why it is as valuable as seeing the episodes. Now I decided to start to watch all episodes by reading your posts. Thank you very much for your effort.

    Liked by 1 person

  79. I am binge watching the series yet again and I could not be happier. East Coast States and Jersey Boy here and grateful to be with like-minded individs. Thank you so much for the generosity and diligence. Grazie!

    Liked by 1 person

  80. You can never have enough Sopranos websites… It still the best TV show that has ever aired.. It put a whole new fresh twist on a tired set of characters

    Liked by 1 person

  81. I was having a joke

    Ron: I have admired your work for a long time but these are my first comments so please bear with me:
    I thought it was odd that at the end of Walk Like a Man, it was clear that Tony had no respect for Christopher, but at the beginning of K & H he was with Tony at an important meeting with Phil. (1) Was this a plot device, or maybe there was a backstory that Tony felt bad for Chris and was trying to to bring him back into the inner circle? (2) thought it was chilling that Phil told Tony to dump the asbestos in his pool, which, since the pilot was a symbol of like Imo. Phil was literally telling him to poison his own home. Appreciate your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

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