“The Sopranos” is clearly one of the best television series ever created and throughout its 6 (and a half) seasons, it maintained quality through direction, writing and especially the acting both by not only James Gandolfini but Edie Falco as well. This “Complete Series” set is thankfully well put together as most of the features have been ported over.
“The Sopranos”: The Complete Series
Genre(s): Crime, Drama
Warner Home Video | TVMA – 4980 min. – $279.98 | November 4, 2014
THE SERIES – 5.0/5
Note: This isn’t going to be a normal review, considering the numerous write-ups, and also to keep this review within a reasonable length, of this show, I’m just going to touch base on my thoughts of the series on the whole rather than running down season by season.
“The Sopranos” not only is one of the best shows ever made but it also transformed pay cable television leading the way to other series like “Deadwood” and “Game of Thrones” to name a couple.
From season to season, the quality of work rarely faltered and while there were a couple so-so episodes, including the controversial series finale, “The Sopranos” for the most part could be relied upon for solid entertainment not to mention top notch performances headlined by the late and great James Gandolfini, built and born for the role of Tony Soprano and his quirks and intricacies. Not to be outdone, Edie Falco is fantastic as the, to an extent, dutiful wife who probably took the largest strides in the series, finding an inner strength missing early on. Lorraine Bracco as Dr. Melfi works so well opposite Gandolfini while Tony Sirico, who I think is/was a real-life mob guy, is mesmerizing, in a terrifying kind of way, in each scene he’s in.
Also have to add kudos to some of the minor regulars from Jamie-Lynn Sigler as Tony’s tenacious daughter, Robert Iler as his wayward son and the rest of his crew from Michael Imperioli to Steven Van Zandt, not to mention Tony’s extended family which, in the case of Janice as played by Aida Turturro, is just as messed up as the mob boss.
Here are the season breakdowns (synopses from the back covers):
Meet Tony Soprano: your average, middle-aged businessman. Tony’s got a dutiful wife. A not-so-dutiful daughter. A son named Anthony Jr. A mother he’s trying to coax into a retirement home. A hotheaded uncle. A not-too-secret mistress. And a shrink to tell all his secrets, except the one she already knows: Tony’s a mob boss.
For Tony Soprano, there’s no such thing as business as usual. Balancing the demands of his immediate family with the demands of his other family – Paulie Walnuts, Silvio Dante and Big Pussy Bonpensiero – means walking a tightrope no self-respecting mobster should have to walk. With his mother and uncle plotting against him, his older sister Janice wreaking her own special kind of havoc, and the very real threat that one of his closest allies is wired by the FBI, Tony needs the support of his psychiatrist, Dr. Melfi, more than ever.
Some suburban households have two cars. Some have two homes. But Tony Soprano has two families. This could be why the FBI is going to such lengths to wiretap his home. Why the son of his dear late friend Jackie Aprile is causing him such agita. Why a Russian housekeeper is searching for her missing leg. Why his son is vandalizing school property and his daughter is getting her heart broken. Why his wife is both consulting a psychiatrist and confessing to a priest. And it’s also why Tony is still seeing Dr. Melfi for his anxiety attacks. It isn’t easy heading up the mob in New Jersey. But that’s what puts dinner on the table for the two families of Tony Soprano.
It’s tough times in Jersey for Tony Soprano. The sluggish economy hasn’t been good for the family business. Carmela is angling for more financial security. Some longtime lieutenants aren’t happy with Tony’s recent decisions. A rival boss wants a bigger piece of the suburban pie. A Soprano is actually heading to trial for the first time in decades. At least one child seems to have lost interest in higher education. And the ducks aren’t coming back anytime soon.
His separation hasn’t been working out. His nephew’s fiancée has become a distraction. His paroled cousin is giving off bad vibes. His business rival is looking for payback. His therapist isn’t buying into the “Two Tonys.” It’s enough to send any mob boss over the edge.
Season 6, Part 1
New challenges abound for Tony Soprano as his life grows increasingly complicated. Now that he and Carmela are back together, they must face the reality that their kids are no longer children, but not yet grown. And with Johnny Sack in prison, the always-tense relations between the New Jersey and New York families are strained even further.
Season 6, Part 2
In the final nine episodes of the series, Tony continues to muse about his second chance at life while facing a myriad of immediate, stress-inducing crises at home, at work and from the law. Caremela, AJ and Meadow each make choices that promise to change the face of the Sopranos’ domestic life. Meanwhile, at work, Tony comes to doubt the allegiances of many of those closest to him. No one – not Paulie, Bobby Bacala, Silvio or even Christopher – is above suspicion.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.5/5
This large, 5-pound, box set has each season, including the two-part sixth season, housed in HD Keep Cases with the bonus disc in an HD slim case on its own. Each season set slides into a sturdy cardboard box over which a thinner cover slides over.
Season One — 3.0/5
Audio Commentary with ‘The Sopranos’ with creator/writer/director David Chase and filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich
David Chase Interviewed by Peter Bogdanovich (1:17:34; SD) – Chase chats, at length, about the series about everything from the opening title sequence to casting, locales and such.
Family Life (4:11; SD) and Meet Tony Soprano (3:32; SD) are old promotional featurettes with archival on-set interviews.
Season Two — 2.0/5
Audio Commentaries on ‘Commendator’ with Episode Director Tim Van Patten, ‘From Where to Eternity’ with Episode Director Henry J. Bronchtein and Producer Ilene Landress, ‘The Knight in White Satin Armor’ with Director Allen Coulter and Landress, and ‘Funhouse’ with Director John Patterson
The Real Deal (4:54; SD) looks at how close the show comes to real life wise guys with interviews by authors and others.
A Sit Down with The Sopranos (14:11; SD) is a selection of interviews with the cast about their characters and the series.
Season Three — 2.0/5
Audio Commentaries on ‘The Telltale Moozadell’ by Writer/Actor Michael Imperioli, ‘Pine Barrens’ with Director Steve Buscemi and ‘Amour Fou’ with Creator David Chase
Behind the Scenes Featurette (3:50; SD) is a short production featurette containing on-set interviews by the cast and crew.
Season Four — 1.5/5
Audio Commentaries – ‘The Weight’ with Writer Terence Winter, ‘Everybody Hurts’ by Writer/Actor Michael Imperioli, ‘Whoever Did This’ with Writers Robin Green & Mitchell Burgess and ‘Whitecaps’ with Creator David Chase
Season Five — 1.5/5
Audio Commentaries – ‘All Happy Families…’ with Director Rodrigo Garcia, ‘Sentimental Education’ by Director Peter Bogdanovich, ‘In Camelot’ by Director Steve Buscemi, ‘Cold Cuts’ with Director Mike Figgis and ‘Long Term Parking’ by Actress Drea De Matteo
Season Six, Part 1 — 1.5/5
Audio Commentaries – ‘Join the Club’ with Cast Members Edie Falco, Robert Iler and Jamie-Lynn Sigler, ‘Luxury Lounge’ by Writer Matthew Weiner, ‘The Ride’ featuring Writer Terence Winter & Actors Michael Imperioli and Tony Sirico, and ‘Kaisha’ with Creator David Chase
Season Six, Part 2 — 2.0/5
Audio Commentaries – ‘Soprano Home Movies’ with Actor Steven R. Schirripa, ‘Remember When’ by Actor Dominic Chianese, ‘The Second Coming’ by Actor Robert Iler and ‘The Blue Comet’ with Actors Stevie Van Zandt & Arthur Nascarella
Making Cleaver (8:24; HD) goes behind-the-scenes of making the movie-within-the-show.
The Music of “The Sopranos” (16:32; HD) has Davis Chase and others discuss the music on the show.
Bonus Disc — 5.0/5
Defining a Television Landmark (45:32; HD) explores how “The Sopranos” came to be and how it transformed the television landscape. It includes new interviews with cast, crew, celebrities, filmmakers, critics and academics, as well as archival footage.
Supper with “The Sopranos”: Part I and II (1:14:59; HD) – Sit down with creator David Chase and the cast and crew as they discuss their collective experiences on the series, and the scenes that had everyone talking. This was very enjoyable and in the style of the old series, “Dinner with Friends.”
Lost Scenes (21:42) – Here we get scenes from all six seasons.
Two-Part Interview with David Chase (43:21; HD) – Hosted by Alec Baldwin, David Chase once again discusses the groundbreaking series.
Digital Copy – Inside the bonus features case is a redemption code for the entire series.
VIDEO – 3.75/5
Each season of “The Sopranos” arrives on Blu-ray, with seasons 2-5 for the first time, presented in its original broadcast 1.78 aspect ratio and a 1080p high-definition transfer. For the most part, the series does look good, although the first season has a darker setting doesn’t often look amazing and even oversaturated, and I suspect even some edge enhancement was used (for season one) but during the daylight scenes at least, colors are bright and well balanced. The remainder seasons tend to look better though still not perfect. I also noticed that there were some minor dust marks that would crop up from time to time, but nothing distracting.
AUDIO – 4.25/5
Every episode gets a nice, though not altogether perfect, 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Where this lossless track succeeds is with the music/soundtrack as well as dialogue levels which mostly come through the center and front speakers however it seems the rear speakers, although gets some usage for ambient noises, is fairly low key. These are still relatively dynamic tracks, especially which each additional season, and certainly an upgrade over the DVD releases.
OVERALL – 4.75/5
Overall, “The Sopranos” is clearly one of the best television series ever created and throughout its 6 (and a half) seasons, it maintained quality through direction, writing and especially the acting both by not only James Gandolfini but Edie Falco as well. This “Complete Series” set is thankfully well put together as most of the features have been ported over and includes 3 hours of bonus material never released before. That, along with the solid transfers, makes this a fine pick-up, although the price is steep so not as easy of a decision especially for those who already own the DVDs…