The Sopranos – Season Six, Part One (Blu-ray + HD-DVD)
B Sound: B- Extras: C+ Episodes: B-
peak, The Sopranos be came one of
the increasingly rare hit TV shows that was also a phenomenon and not because
it was some phony, happy hit about a group of adults who don’t act like
it. Instead, crime family or not, it was
the kind of gutsy, intelligent, daring, gritty and groundbreaking show TV has
been sorely lacking since the 1980s. It
was the return of the repressed.
its final episodes, the show is as bold about showing decline, apathy and burn
out as it was about showing the good times.
Some actually enjoy this phase, others are no as happy and this critic
would point out that the show is being as thorough about this period as
everything else. Not that the shows
always work at this point, but it remains ambitious enough. The episodes are:
1) Members Only
2) Join The Club
4) The Fleshy Part Of The Thigh
5) Mr. and Mrs. John Sacrimoni Request
6) Live Free Or Die
7) Luxury Lounge
8) Johnny Cakes
9) The Ride
10) Moe & Joe
11) Cold Stones
is still good growing into their roles so seamlessly (and they were good from
the start) and directing remains top-notch, but another problem the show has is
that it has done so much already. It can
only conclude its project and hopefully not hit any sour notes. In that, it is doing better than some are
giving it credit for, but in true Gangster loyalty tradition, some are going to
be more loyal than others. Chase was
likely expecting that considering the arc of this show.
Chris Carter and X-Files, at least
he did not build up something grand and suddenly “forget about it” as if the
fans did not matter. Chase cannot be
accused of this, which is why this show will hold up better than Carter’s in
the years to come.
making a little-scene Horror film, Chase went to television and reinvented the
Horror genre with clever doses of humor in Kolchak:
The Night Stalker, then deconstructed Detective fiction with The Rockford Files (both reviewed
elsewhere on this site) and made the con artist/police situation funnier and
smarter as story consultant on Switch. He then produced on Northern Exposure, which was an offbeat deconstruction of TV dramas
since the 1980s.
The Sopranos digs back to the Gangster genre
and its origins during the 1930s, when sound ushered mobsters into cinema
permanently. Tony Soprano becomes a
hybrid look at so many lead gangsters up to recent times, for which the series
becomes a deep mediation thereof and works through the genre like Chase’s
time, Chase had the freedom of cable TV and took off on a genre that was
finding new popularity for all kinds of reasons. James Gandolfini was becoming a big movie
star interesting character role after interesting character role when this show
hit big. The same for Edie Falco, with
just those two having remarkable and convincing chemistry, Lorraine Bracco
(from Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas)
and Aida Turturro showing up as more than just token women in the man’s world
of mobsters, Michael Imperioli became a new actor on the rise and Steven Van
Zandt established himself as a major actor after years of success as the
musician known at Little Steven. They
are among the fine players who have created some of the most memorable TV
characters of the last quarter century.
No wonder this is a huge hit and the first TV series to arrive in both
1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image is better than the many standard DVD
boxes that have come out of the show and is even a tad better than HD
broadcasts we have seen. That does not
mean it is always as impressive as it could be, but it looks good and better
since it is shot in Super 35mm film than HD.
Smallville looked better in
HD-DVD more often, but this is a grittier shoot, with the transfer in both
versions very much the same.
Digital Plus 5.1 sound on both sets is better than standard Dolby Digital 5.1
from the previous DVD sets, but is somewhat limited because this is not a show with
constant surrounds to begin with. Especially
at this point, Chase and HBO make sure this is nicely recorded just the
same. The same can be said for the
commentary tracks. This is the first
time we have seen the Dolby Plus logo on Blu-ray product of any kind. Also, the Blu-ray package claims it offers
both Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 and PCM 5.1, but it does not have the room for both
and there is no PCM here we could find.
Unless we are having technical problems with our Blu-rays, we are
considering that perhaps two sound versions were somehow manufactured, but will
keep you posted.
leaves four audio commentaries on 12 of the shows with Chase, writers Terence
Winter & Matthew Weiner, and actors Falco, Imperioli, Robert Iler,
Jamie-Lynn Sigler and Tony Sirico. You
also get episodic previews, episodic recaps and a featurette, none of which are
noted on the boxes.
it looks like the next set will be the last and give or take a feature film
that may or may not happen, the story is coming to an end. What that will mean for Tony in particular,
we don’t know, but everyone is going to find out.
- Nicholas Sheffo