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Archive for September 18th, 2017

by Dennis Polifroni

It was never truly about gangsters.  

There, I’ve said it.

THE SOPRANOS really isn’t, and never was, about the Italian Mafia inasmuch as the Mafia is simply a springboard device used to help coax the viewer into getting involved in the TRUE issues of life that plague every American household today.

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THE GREATEST CONCEPT IN AMERICAN TV HISTORY???

A guy walks into a psychiatrist’s office.  He sits down and starts complaining about his kids grades at school, that his wife suspects him of infidelity and how his mother, a woman without any love in her heart, has poorly treated him and his siblings for decades.

I can see a crowd of TV producers snoring at those lines of description.  Wouldn’t you?  There are DOZENS of shows on TV that deal with EXACTLY the same issues and plot points.  Why, on earth, would any TV executive worth his weight in salt want to back a show about these same topics?

Now…  Let’s try again…

A guy walks into a psychiatrist’s office.  He sits down and starts complaining about his kids grades at school, that his wife suspects him of infidelity and how his mother, a woman without any love in her heart, has poorly treated him and his siblings for decades.  But, THIS man greased his kid’s teachers with a few thousand dollars to put his son on the honor role, his wife was given a stolen Mercedes as a diversion to keep her off the trail of his illicit fucking and he’s plotting to smother his mother with a pillow as payback for all the years of crass and cruel behavior.

Oh, and the man, without actually admitting it, has been recognized by the psychiatrist as the head of New Jersey’s Organized Crime faction.

Whoa!!!!!  You got MY ATTENTION!

THE SOPRANOS head-writer and creator, David Chase, was never really interested in the nitty-gritty of a mobster’s dirty deeds. He couldn’t care less about who got throttled or shot, stabbed or thrown into a wood-chipper.  What he WAS interested in was how the actions of a despicable killer informed and influenced his behavior at home and the lives and behavior of his immediate family.  THE SOPRANOS is about many things but, what it’s most about are the things we all deal with in our own lives and how the eccentric nature of a larger-than-life personality infects the family unit.  Chase used his love for a classic American cinematic genre, gangster movies, combined with his own personal knowledge of “guys like that”, that were part of his Italian/American up-bringing, and plopped the “Don” of New Jersey into the living room of Norman Rockwell’s U. S. A. and waited to see what would happen.

(more…)

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by Sam Juliano

The Top 80 Greatest Television Countdown is fast approaching the Top 10, and with it a conclusion to Phase One of this long-running project.  The longer section will commence in mid-December.  The annual Caldecott Medal Contender series will also be launching within one week and will continue at the rate of two to three reviews a week until mid January.  Obviously it will run concurrent with Part 2 of the Television Countdown for about four weeks.  But running both at the same time will pose no problem at all.

The past week has been very difficult.  My father’s older 94 year-old sister passed away late Sunday at a hospice location in North Jersey.  She lingered there for eight days without food and water and Lucille and I were there daily.  She is the mother of my beloved cousins, the late Bobby McCartney and Douglas and Jeffrey McCartney, both of course who were there daily holding vigil.  Douglas lived with my Aunt his entire life.   An extremely close aunt through all our lives, and a time of great sorrow. (more…)

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