Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Got Myself a Gun

The last vestiges of winter are behind us. And so with the sun-streaked advent of springtime, we find flowers in bloom, bees abuzz and skies a-blue.

And best of all, the return of "The Sopranos" is only days away. The scuttlebutt is that a major character will be killed on the first episode (any predictions on who it will be?)

Many vats of ink have been spilled over the past several years by self-styled culture pundits pontificating over what makes the HBO series such a phenomenon (the latest treatise comes from Newsweek, by the way, which offers some half-baked thesis about it involving a close-knit family). Since David Chase's Mob soap opera debuted in 1999, network programs such as "Lost" and "24" have exacted similar holds on their respective audiences, but the depth -- and, dare we say, profundity -- of "Sopranos" is in a league by itself.

So, what does account for "The Sopranos" mystique?

In my humble estimation, there aren't any overarching mysteries responsible for "Sopranos" success.

It's the writing, stupid.

David Chase has simply created rich, complex, interesting characters -- characters who would be uncharacteristically complicated for literature, much less the cramped confines of the small screen. Tony Soprano is a being of extremes, but "The Sopranos" doesn't simply hang its hat on dichotomies (lookie! he's a vicious mob boss who loves his kids!). The central characters of "The Sopranos" are exceptionally well-drawn, and it is from their full-bodied lives that the stories' depth unfold. David Chase doesn't condescend to his audience; that in itself almost makes his show a novelty.

While there's no denying that generous helpings of sex and violence boost the show's visceral appeal, the main draw is old-fashioned storytelling. Who woulda thunk it?


At 11:16 AM, Anonymous TokenLiberal said...

I agree with the writing comment. It's also exceptionally well acted. Makes other TV dramas look like, well, TV dramas.


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