The Sopranos: Season 1
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Sopranos, The: The Complete First Season (DVD)
On January 10th, 1999, America was introduced to two families that would make history: The Soprano family headed by Tony Soprano, and The Soprano "family" headed by ... Tony Soprano. ' 'Four Stars! The first gotta-watch, gotta love, Gotti-like TV series of 1999. Across the board it's an A-plus.' ' - The New York Post ' 'Achieves a fresh tone to match its irresistibly winning concept.' ' - The New York TimesAmazon.com The Sopranos, writer-producer-director David Chase's extraordinary television series, is nominally an urban gangster drama, but its true impact strikes closer to home: Like 1999's other screen touchstone, American Beauty, the HBO series chronicles a dysfunctional, suburban American family in bold relief. And for protagonist Tony Soprano, there's the added complexity posed by heading twin families, his collegial mob clan and his own, nouveau riche brood. The series' brilliant first season is built around what Tony learns when, whipsawed between those two worlds, he finds himself plunged into depression and seeks psychotherapy--a gesture at odds with his midlevel capo's machismo, yet instantly recognizable as a modern emotional test. With analysis built into the very spine of the show's elaborate episodic structure, creator Chase and his formidable corps of directors, writers, and actors weave an unpredictable series of parallel and intersecting plot arcs that twist from tragedy to farce to social realism. While creating for a smaller screen, they enjoy a far larger canvas than a single movie would afford, and the results, like the very best episodic television, attain a richness and scope far closer to a novel than movies normally get. Unlike Francis Coppola's operatic dramatization of Mario Puzo's Godfather epic, The Sopranos sustains a poignant, even mundane intimacy in its focus on Tony, brought to vivid life by James Gandolfini's mercurial performance. Alternately seductive, exasperated, fearful, and murderous, Gandolfini is utterly convincing even when executing brutal shifts between domestic comedy and dramatic violence. Both he and the superb team of Italian-American actors recruited as his loyal (and, sometimes, not-so-loyal) henchmen and their various "associates" make this mob as credible as the evocative Bronx and New Jersey locations where the episodes were filmed. The first season's other life force is Livia Soprano, Tony's monstrous, meddlesome mother. As Livia, the late Nancy Marchand eclipses her long career of patrician performances to create an indelibly earthy, calculating matriarch who shakes up both families; Livia also serves as foil and rival to Tony's loyal, usually level-headed wife, Carmela (Edie Falco). Lorraine Bracco makes Tony's therapist, Dr. Melfi, a convincing confidante, by turns "professional," perceptive, and sexy; the duo's therapeutic relationship is also depicted with uncommon accuracy. Such grace notes only enrich what's not merely an aesthetic high point for commercial television, but an absorbing film masterwork that deepens with subsequent screenings. --Sam Sutherland From the Back Cover EPISODES 1 - 13 THE SOPRANOS - Written by David Chase, Directed by David Chase In the series opener, we meet Tony Soprano and his two families -- the genetic one and the one in the Mob -- and see how pressure from both causes him to see a therapist. 46 LONG - Written by David Chase, Directed by David Chase Can't anybody manage two minutes without Tony's supervision? Livia needs household help; Chris and Brendan are setting up their own jobs; and Anthony, Jr. needs someone to find his science teacher's stolen car. DENIAL, ANGER, ACCEPTANCE - Written by Mark Saraceni, Directed by Nick Gomez Everybody wants something: Meadow and Hunter want Chris to help them score some crank, a Hasidic man wants Tony to help his daughter get a divorce, and Tony wants to help a friend in the hospital. MEADOWLANDS - Written by Jason Cahill, Directed by John Patterson Tony decides to find out about Dr. Melfi's personal life, while Anthony, Jr. finds out about his dad's professional one. COLLEGE - Written by Jim Manos, Jr. and David Chase, Directed by Allen Coulter On a trip to Maine to visit colleges with Meadow, Tony thinks he spots an old friend with whom he has some unfinished business. PAX SOPRANA - Written by Frank Renzulli, Directed by Alan Taylor Uncle Junior gives everybody "agita" by announcing he's not honoring any deals made by Jackie Aprile. What's Tony going to do about it? DOWN NECK - Written by Robin Green & Mitchell Burgess, Directed by Lorraine Senna Anthony, Jr.'s troubles in school cause Tony to look back on his own formative years and his relationships with Livia, Uncle Junior, and his father. LEGEND OF TENNESSEE MOLTISANTI - Written by Frank Renzulli and David Chase, Directed by Tim Van Patten Everybody's got "agita" over rumors of impending federal indictments, and Christopher's looking for a purpose to his life -- like writing a screenplay. BOCA - Written by Jason Cahill and Robin Green & Mitchell Burgess, Directed by Andy Wolk Tony learns a secret about Uncle Junior; Uncle Junior learns a secret about Tony, and it has serious consequences for both of Tony's families. A HIT IS A HIT - Written by Joe Bosso and Frank Renzulli, Directed by Matthew Penn Tony tries moving in new social circles, and a rap star tries moving in on Hesh's music profits. NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING - Written by Frank Renzulli, Directed by Henry Bronchtein Somebody in the "family" is wearing a wire for the Feds -- and Tony's afraid he knows who it is. ISABELLA - Written by Robin Green & Mitchell Burgess, Directed by Allen Coulter While Tony strikes up a friendship with a beautiful Italian exchange student, his enemies strike a deal to move against him. I DREAM OF JEANNIE CUSAMANO - Written by David Chase, Directed by John Patterson The season closer, in which the "merda" really hits the fan: Wise guys are arrested, rats are whacked and Tony and Livia finally see eye to eye.