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“The Sopranos: Season 1” {Blu-ray}-(Wayne)
Wayne Klein
Studio: HBO Home Entertainment
Release Date:
Special Features:

Featurettes, commentary track


Like Tony Soprano it seemed there was a time when the public couldn’t escape “The Sopranos”—the series was on HBO and in an edited edition showed up on A&E as well expanding on the initial audience. When a series crosses the threshold from popular entertainment to iconic it carries with it a certain burden; expectations for the quality of the show are always higher than the average series. David Chase’s “The Sopranos” more than lived up to that difficult high standard during its run on HBO. This new Blu-ray edition continues gives us (finally) the high def transfers that were often used for the source of the popular DVD season boxed sets. Like those sets HBO has chosen to release them individually. Chase who began his writing career on genre shows like “Kolchak: The Night Stalker” and “The Rockford Files” (often penning popular episodes involving…yep…the Mob) knows how to tightly structure a suspenseful episode without much in the way of flash and that’s a good thing because the drama is the thing. Playing like a variation on every theme that Shakespeare ever tackled, Chase’s series had the operatic quality or larger-than-life theatrical quality of a play but with a sense of the intimacy of a family drama because the series was in reality all three; the show as most people know follows Mob boss Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) as he takes control of a powerful and profitable illegal organization. That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have the problems of the average man; his daughter Meadow seems to be in constant rebellion and Anthony Jr. has his own demons as well. The most complex relationship that Tony has during the first season is his relationship with his wife Carmela (Edie Falco) who does try and bring a certain amount of morals and ethics to a man who plays by his own code established within his larger “Family”. During the first season Tony enters therapy with Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) to try and unravel his personal demons which are interfering with his leadership skills, his marriage and, at times, he’s afraid he’s losing his nerve. “The Sopranos” defined complex drama on American TV during its entire run and everything else had to measure up to it. ---

Image & Sound:

We get a superb transfer from HBO. The original DVDs were in many cases from high def transfers. Detail, image depth and colors pop throughout the presentation looking sharp and continuing to set a high standard for Blu-ray. ***

The 5.1 mix often remains very active even in scenes where they are dialogue driven. ---

Special Features:

There isn’t a major change in the extras compared to the DVD sets released over the last decade. We get two featurettes “Family Life” and “Meet Tony Soprano” as well as an interview by Peter Bogdanovich with Chase (it’s a fairly long one at over an hour) and filmography all carried over from the previous boxed set. We do get a commentary track on the original pilot episode. ---

Final Words:

Still one the standard for adult, intelligent dramas, “The Sopranos” allowed creator/writer/producer/director David Chase to continue to mine his fascination with the Mafia for gold. It’s a terrific series and the Blu-ray of the first season looks and sounds exceptional. My only complaint is the lack of a significant amount of new special features—new commentary tracks would have been have been nice for this reissue.


Copyright @ Teakwood Productions 2000
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