Archive for June, 2013

Monday Medley

What we read while moving to Ecuador for the weather…

Mere Anachrony: The Sopranos Season One (RIP James Gandolfini)

In honor of James Gandolfini, who passed away at the age of 51, NPI is reposting its look back at the first season the show that made Gandolfini an icon.

sopranos

It’s been over two years, now, since The Sopranos ended its run on television with one of the most cryptic endings in television history, leading to weeks of debate over whether or not Tony was dead, who killed him, and why Meadow was such a bad parallel parker.

For many people, that ending is the most iconic image from the show; for some, it may be the only thing they remember of the show’s cultural impact. Unfortunately, that black screen is blocking a very rich history.

It’s easy to forget, but when The Sopranos premiered in 1999, it instantly became the best television drama of all-time (granted, this wasn’t as difficult of a crown to earn back then, since The Wire, Deadwood, Lost, Six Feet Under, Mad Men, etc. had all yet to air). It also resonated culturally in a way other great shows rarely do; it was almost instantly beloved by critics and viewers alike, at least partially because HBO allowed them to show violence, profanity and nudity.

Looking back on the first season of the show, it’s odd to think how “edgy” a lot of it was. Aside from cursing and sex, the show features a character who kills someone with his bare hands in the fifth episode (which HBO thought would render Tony unsympathetic to an audience), which now seems tame (this guy doesn’t even wait five scenes). The show uses psychiatry as a key feature of the narrative, which is commonplace now. And the show offers a frank approach to sexuality and drug use, which has become par for the course now as well.

And yet, none of the shows that have pushed the envelope farther has achieved the resonance that The Sopranos had. What made the show great wasn’t shock value— though it had plenty of that— but something much more substantive. Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while wishing our Dads a happy birthday…

  • Eli Saslow’s Washington Post piece on the Barton family in the aftermath of the Newtown shooting is everything a newspaper piece should be: In-depth on multiple levels on a story that needs to be told, it also exercises an admirable authorial restraint. Saslow is quick becoming a writer whose every word should be read.

Monday Medley

What we read while the government spying- NEVERMIND EVERYTHING’S FINE!

Monday Medley

What we read while wondering where they found this Jaden Smith kid…

  • As tornadoes struck Oklahoma again, native Oklahoman Ben Montgomery delivers a story from the scene.
  • Ever wanted to see 42 takes of one scene dissected?  Here you go.