Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Sopranos - Season 5

Finished the last episode this afternoon and I have to say that I think this season has been my favorite so far. Not so much because of any particular episode(s), but with the sum of them. And the story-lines were interesting (not just related to Tony's "business"), but in relation to his marriage and his with his two cousins. Since I didn't follow the series as it happened, I have no idea who or when or how many Emmy awards The Sopranos received, but I thought Edie Falco (Carmela), Michael Imperioli (Chrisopher) and Drea de Matteo (Adriana) were really, really good. The questioning of faith, of family, of marriage, of her acceptance of her lifestyle were all a part of the journey Carmela took during the season. And in the end, she went back to Tony - for a large sum of money and with the pledge that his "indiscretions" would not come into their home. Not that he wouldn't stop, but that Carmela wouldn't find out. She had to choose what type of life she wanted and she did.

As I've stated before, I get so much more insight as to why this series is so highly praised from the commentaries. And from those, and especially from the ones in this season, I think I've somewhat figured out the hype. And interestingly (at least to me), it wasn't from a write or director or the creator, but from an actor, Drea de Matteo. She did the commentary on the episode in which she is killed and in between her thoughts about leaving and working on the show, she had some great insights. She talked about how different this series was from a normal tv series. From the music, to the scores (or lack thereof), to the writing, to the acting. She saw each episode not as a part of a series, but each as an independent film. That in most tv series, you can interchange lines between characters and it wouldn't make much of a difference - but with The Sopranos, each character was so well defined and so unique, you couldn't do that. And it's true. They do seem like films, they look like films - they don't look or feel or sound like television.

The other aspect she touched on, which to be honest had been mentioned by others in their commentaries, was how brilliant all the subtle elements are woven together. The subtle humor, the subtle looks or expressions, the subtle way the writers make fun of tv or pop culture, making the characters try to use words or phrases that they mess up or use in the wrong context. In some of these instances, I missed them completely during the initial watching of an episode. Only after watching again, or hearing it brought up, did I catch some.

Drea mentioned, as did David Chase on an earlier commentary, how shocking fans of the show found her death. I didn't - I felt it was a logical conclusion to her storyline. And I didn't find the manner of how she was killed that graphic or sadistic. She did mention that Steven Van Zandt ( whose character kills her) had problems doing the scenes - that he was extremely upset while filming them. I'm not sure why, unless it was more his personal feelings towards Drea the actress and friend.

One more season to go....

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