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The Sopranos is a mob drama that aired on HBO. It followed the story of New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano and his two families, one by blood (wife Carmela, daughter Meadow and son A.J.) and his crime family, which included his aging, cantankerous Uncle Junior and his junkie nephew Christopher.
The series has been almost universally lauded by professional critics of the medium as a high-water mark in American television. With its mixture of dark comedy, operatic tragedy, suburban mundanity and pulpy sensationalism, The Sopranos heralded the popularization of cinematic filmmaking techniques combined with a complexity and exactitude only a serialized medium such as television could afford. The Sopranos even had no compunction against killing off key characters, a trademark which would be later seen in 24, while still leaving plenty of room for graphic depictions of sex, nudity and violence which would have been impossible on the FCC-regulated broadcast networks.
As a result of this complexity (and in no small part thanks to its cast, which over the years included such seasoned and respected actors as James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Joe Pantoliano and Steve Buscemi), The Sopranos became one of the most acclaimed series in television history almost from day one. In merely six seasons and 86 episodes, it racked up over 100 Emmy nominations, winning 21 of them.
However, it wasn't just the critics and the awards bodies who responded. The Sopranos was a hit of a magnitude then unheard of for a cable show. From the second season through the sixth, pay network HBO reported subscription increases of 30 to 40 percent prior to each season premiere, and new episodes routinely broke ratings records for the network in particular and pay cable in general. Tony Soprano became a pop culture icon to rival his cinematic predecessor Michael Corleone.
The critical acclaim and popular appeal of the show led to a legitimizing of cable television. Although cable had had a few original programming successes in the 1980s and '90s (HBO itself had already done quite well with The Larry Sanders Show), prior to the release of The Sopranos and its posh, sophisticated, urbane New York sitcom sister Sex and the City, cable television was still working to overcome its image as a ghetto of sorts for television programming, even requiring its own separate awards. Throughout the 2000s, however, award nominations and year-end "best of television" lists found cable making strong showings, if not altogether dominant.
Perhaps most significantly in the long term, however, was a quirk of historical timing. The DVD format was released at around the same time as the premiere of the series. As a result, The Sopranos and Sex and the City were among the first to be released to the format, and their sales success proved the viability of a home video market for television shows. Within a few scant years, DVD sales had grown to play a role almost as significant as ratings in programming planning. Thus, even in the most objective of senses, The Sopranos represents a significant change of course in the history of the medium of television.
|Season One||January 10, 1999||April 4, 1999||13|
|Season Two||January 16, 2000||April 9, 2000||13|
|Season Three||March 4, 2001||May 20, 2001||13|
|Season Four||September 15, 2002||December 8, 2002||13|
|Season Five||March 7, 2004||June 6, 2004||13|
|Season Six||March 12, 2006||June 10, 2007||21|
- At a Glance: Additional information about the series
- The Big Whack List: A listing of who died at whose hand and when. NOTE: May contain spoilers.
- Characters: A listing of all major characters who appeared and the families, blood or crime, with which they were associated.
- Dream Diary: A listing of key dream sequences with analysis and key symbolism.
- Music: A listing of music used in the series.
DVD and Blu-ray Releases
|The Complete Series||November 11, 2008||33|
|The Complete Series (2009)||November 17, 2009||30|
|The Complete First Season||December 12, 2000||4|
|The Complete Second Season||November 6, 2001||4|
|The Complete Third Season||August 27, 2002||4|
|The Complete Fourth Season||October 28, 2003||4|
|The Complete Fifth Season||June 7, 2005||4|
|Season Six, Part I||November 7, 2006||4|
|Season Six, Part II||October 23, 2007||4|
|The Complete First Season||November 24, 2009||5|
|Season Six, Part I||December 19, 2006||4|
|Season Six, Part II||October 23, 2007||4|
|The Sopranos: Music from the HBO Original Series||December 14, 1999||14|
|The Sopranos: Peppers & Eggs||May 8, 2001||25|
|Fuhgeddaboudit! Music You Heard on The Sopranos||March 15, 2004||45|
|Bada Bing! Music Heard on The Sopranos||July 31, 2007||52|
- The Sopranos Episodes, TV Listings, News, Photos and More at TVGuide.com
- News - Sopranos and related news at NJ.com