The Sopranos Sickens Me
Call me whatever you want –– old-fashioned, boring, naïve –– but the The Sopranos never appealed to me, and after actually seeing an episode, I’m even more repelled by the poor excuse for entertainment.
The glimpse I caught of Mr. Tony Soprano was at an emotionally strained point in his life, in which the merciless mobster/ loving father is torn between running the business after his boss Giacomo “Jackie” Aprile Sr. dies and keeping his position as a family man, particularly keeping his wife and son happy; the problem is, his position as up-and-coming mob boss prevents him from ever doing so, and plus, he’s an absolute womanizer.
The producers’ attempt at creating sympathy for such a character fails utterly, in my view, when the family man leaves behind naked women in bed or at strip clubs.
Anyway, after seeing his coy therapist, Dr. Jennifer Melfi, with whom I hear he has much sexual tension (surprise!), he has a nervous breakdown, depicted as various scenes before his eyes: one foe reading a paper, another casually smoking, Jackie dying on his hospital bed, and, yes, a scene of a man basking in the glory of having a naked woman at his mercy.
Tony wakes up from what happens to be a nightmare and abruptly leaves a mistress to go home, where he finds his son, Anthony, playing late-night video games. He tells him he’s late because a garbage compacter broke, a harmless fib, of course, to shield his son’s innocence from his womanizing, criminal antics, but little Tony will soon realize his dad’s true career.
Tony’s twenty-something nephew, Christopher, neck-braced and paranoid, exits a hospital with Adriana, a less-than-clever girl-kick, to whom he pines about really being killed, unlike another who underwent a mock execution in the Meadowlands. After discovering his friend, Brendon, shot dead in his bathtub, he worries even more about being killed by Mikey, another area mobster (that’s the life you chose, bub).
After vengefully stapling Mikey’s chest several times, Tony goes to see his uncle Junior to talk over the transition of leadership. Junior kicks Tony out, telling him the next time he comes, he better be armed, since it’s either him or Tony who will be the mob family’s next boss.
Frustrated, Tony tells Dr. Melfi about his elderly family member issues, to which she advises that sometimes all older people need is the sense they’re in control. She then opens up to her patient about how a crooked cop pulled over her and her boyfriend, Ronald, assaulting him until he had been bloodied on the pavement. At hearing this, Tony fidgets in his chair, knowing the crooked cop is the one he hired to get info on Dr. Melfi.
Little Tony has his own issues at school when a bully and he duke it out after some name-calling. He promises to wash his mom’s car if she doesn’t tell the bully’s parents, the Piacastas, who he knows, since he and little Piacasta had gone to camp together.
Later, with a crowd of rowdy peers, little Piacasta backs out of his scheduled brawl with tiny Tony. The episode clearly suggests Mr. Piacasta forces his son to do so, because he finds out Tony Soprano’s real job isn’t dumping garbage; it’s dumping bodies (oh, the suspense), which only escalates Anthony’s investigation into his father’s job.
With Dr. Melfi’s advice in mind, he tells his uncle that the boys have decided to make him boss, but at Jackie’s funeral, we find out it’s actually Tony who will run the business; uncle Junior will simply be its face. Tony never really discusses his marriage with Dr. Melfi, even though his wife had begged him to save their marriage.
All the while Tony exchanges whispers with his mob family at the funeral, Anthony listens in, smiling at his dad but unsure how to feel about his dad being a criminal.
The only acting that is noteworthy is that of the adult characters on the show; they do great work, but their roles do them more harm than good. The show’s child stars could use some work; perhaps they should practice actual name-calling, since theirs is inept.
Although there’s an edginess and tension in the show’s overall plot, as well as in this episode’s, it’s fantastical and unfounded. A villain away from home is a villain at home, whether by way of physical, mental or verbal abuse. To create sympathy for a merciless, woman-hating and ignorant mobster does not portray the criminal life in positive light, since the truth is obviously not what the show infers.
I guess I am old-fashioned, though. After all, my favorite film is still Aladdin, whose protagonist, although a criminal, turns from his wicked ways and pursues being faithful to but one wife. Mr. Tony Soprano could use a few lessons from Disney’s riffraff.