I will admit now that I never got that deep into The Sopranos when it was on. I watched it. It was okay. I don’t think it deserves its lofty position as one of the greatest television programs of all time, but it is a well put together show. Being from HBO, the production values are fantastic of course but what makes it so amazing?
It is solid. I get it. The Sopranos, a show about a crime boss, his family and his organization in New Jersey, is a well made show with fantastic acting and good writing. It is entertaining but for me, a little clichéd. The mobsters are all what you would expect. Smoking, drinking Italian Americans wearing jogging outfits. I’ve seen it all before. It’s nothing special in that area.
For an HBO show, it had an amazing amount of longevity, reaching 86 episodes in 6 seasons. Most don’t get that far because of high production costs. The Sopranos was no different in that regard; it may not have been as high a cost as something along the lines of Rome for example, but they spared no expense for Tony Soprano and his crew, including many other fantastic character actors.
James Gandolfini played the lead role of Tony and ruled both his family and mafia crew with an iron fist. He liked to drink, he liked to smoke, he liked to fool around with women at the local strip club they ran and he also liked to walk the line between danger and life. Was it all worth it? Being a mobster is not the safest job to have, even for a tough, street smart guy like Tony. They gave him a lot of great dialogue and storylines to work with and Gandolfini played it up well.
The ending, fading to black on a waiting Tony and leaving it up to the viewer to decide what may or may not happen next, is the source of much controversy but I’m okay with it. It takes guts to end a show like that and I respect that brave choice.