The Great Sopranos Episodes – An Introduction

I’ve long told friends who had never become fans of The Sopranos that what they need to do is watch the series straight through, then watch it over again straight through.  The second time around, context begins to take hold, and the show might begin to reveal itself for the visionary accomplishment that it is – and, I’m assuming if you made it to a second round of viewing, you probably already though it was a pretty great accomplishment.

You could say I take The Sopranos too seriously, and probably I do.  However, so much has been written of the art of great filmmakers and movies.  To me, The Sopranos is the great film accomplishment of our time, and the great text of our time – it says more about us, how we act, and who we are than movies, because it takes place over a longer period of time and comments on the passage of time as it is being experienced.  It says more about us, how we act, and who we are than writing does because, honestly, it’s more widely seen, and because it allows us to observe the behaviors of others. 

And it says more than television because – and this one should be obvious – it’s better than television.  The Sopranos pushed the form of television in 100 different ways – the length of seasons, the length of episodes, the content of episodes, sure.  But most importantly, it dismissed, finally, the sense that a television show is a self-contained beast from hour to hour.  It dismissed the notion that those hours had to make sense.  It dismissed that they had to be of one definable genre, and it dismissed, even, that episodes had to be all that “entertaining.”  The Sopranos knew how to be miserable, abstruse, frustrating, though provoking, bloody, funny, ugly, and wise, and I write about it because it knew, ultimately, more than we do.

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