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The Sopranos is Why I Get Up in the Morning. (Literally.)

For all of Chris's hero worship (pun INTENDED), I bet he didn't literally wake up at 6:30 in the morning to view the (ha ha, of course legally) downloaded new episode of Heroes, like I did for this week's The Sopranos. With only two more new episodes to go for the entire show's run, I thought it would be beneficial to go over just some of the many reasons why The Sopranos is, indeed, the greatest show to ever be on television, ever. Or, if not always the greatest, at least the show that brought television viewing into a totally new stratosphere. The show that made me realize that watching well-written serial dramas on DVD is vastly superior to watching a few episodes of a few shows once in a while. And, the show that made swearing, nudity, brutal violence, and excessive drug use standard practice.

1. James Gandolfini, who plays Tony Soprano, is by far the best actor on TV. With Tony, I always feel a mixture of extreme anger and genuine empathy. Yeah, he's murdered plenty of people on-screen, some of them for no reason other than being in the wrong place in the wrong time. But then he comes to some conclusion that the world is a screwed up place to be and it's really his parents' fault for screwing him up so severely.

2. Minimali artificial dramatic tension. After viewing the mostly horrendus conclusion to this season's 24 (save for the silent clock for the death of Jack Bauer's soul), I came to really appreciate the fact that The Sopranos has always let the writing build the tension instead of any type of wacky camera-work/beat-you-over-the-head-with-it soundtrack. In fact, The Sopranos rarely plays any type of background music, usually only played if it is actually happening in the scene. When something that I didn't care about happened with Jack Bauer's nephew and his dad, there was a huge crescendo of strings and guitars and some stupid zoom-in on one of their faces. When Tony snuffed off a close friend in cold blood, it just happened. And it made sense in the context of the story why it happened. Hey television, please remember: shows are good when they are written well. Please, creater/writer David Chase, spread the word.

3. Meadow Soprano. Let's face it, she's hot.

4. It revolutionized HBO and was the first in a line of other superb shows on the network. Without the wild success of The Sopranos, there would assuredly be no Six Feet Under, or Big Love, or Carnivale, or The Wire. Likewise, F/X wouldn't have transformed into the "poor man's HBO" and developed quality dramedies like Nip/Tuck and Rescue Me. And, there probably wouldn't be any Heroes, either!

5. A ground-breaking mixture of comedy and drama about the human condition that will be difficult to top. What other show can make a teenage boy falling into despair about the world and attempting suicide absolutely heart-breaking AND funny at the same time?

I have high hopes for the newest addition to the HBO line-up, John from Cincinnati. If it can come close to being as good as The Sopranos, you know I'll be obsessively downloading, er, legally subscribing to HBO and watching at its regularly scheduled time.

A promo clip for John from Cincinnati

Addenum: I love how pretentious the writers of the above show are -- they are inviting us into a discourse about what makes life worth living. And LEVITATION?! That's pretty much all I need in a show -- pretentiousness and random magic things happening.

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  1. Blogger chris | 2:05 PM |  

    i enjoy the subtle jabs at heroes. if you ever buy sopranos, i will give it another chance (i either fell asleep or had bad "analyze this" flashbacks during the eps i watched) if you give heroes another chance on august 28th.

  2. Blogger qualler | 4:35 PM |  

    You're on, Chris! I'm 'flixing Disc One and should be getting it today, and I'm forcing Brigitte into watching it, so do you want to join us?

    I humbly accept your challenge to enter into the realm of Heroes.

  3. Blogger Michael | 12:25 AM |  

    Mark- You're right on. David Chase is a master at creating tension between characters. I loved the episode where Tony is at Bobby and Janice's lake home for his birthday. The two scenes in particular I liked - when Tony and Bobby are fishing and then later in the night when everyone is drinking and playing Monopoly. Tensions were raised and then simmered, but finally the pot bubbled over when Tony made a comment about Janice being a slut which results in Tony and Bobby going at it. I thought that Carmela removing the Monopoly house from Tony's forehead was a nice touch by Chase also.

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