Tuesday, 16 August 2016
The Sopranos, Season 4 (2002)
Life just keeps getting more complicated for Tony Soprano.
That's how I started the review for season 3 of The Sopranos, but it is frankly no less true this time around. The complications come from his underlings; including rebelliousness, substance abuse issues and interpersonal conflicts. They come from his fellow mob bosses; disputes over money and conflicting agendas. They come from the FBI, who of course are still out to get him and who are slowly infiltrating his organisation. And they come from his increasingly strained relations with his own family; strains that stem to a great extent from Tony's own behaviour.
So on the plot side things are basically "more of the same, except different". It's a pretty clever balancing act that the show has been playing for some time now: finding new ways to initiate, evolve and resolve the same basic conflicts. The writers do an excellent job of meeting the challenge in this season: I was thoroughly engrossed while watching it, always keen to see the next episode.
Of course, the writers can't take all the credit. Something I haven't spoken about so far is the cast of the show. They're uniformly strong. Obviously being Tony Soprano was the role which really catapulted James Gandolfini to the status of a recognisable star, but he's far from the only one doing good work here. The show delivers a bunch of interesting characters, well-performed. Whether it be Tony's nephew Christopher, who wants to live up to his uncle's ambitions for him but who isn't really smart or mature enough to do so; or Christopher's long-suffering fiancee Adrienne; or Tony's even more long-suffering wife Carmella, there's almost always someone on screen whose story is of interest.
I've reviewed four seasons of this show by now, so you've probably already made up your mind about it, but in case you're still on the fence: it's definitely worth your time if you don't mind having a main protagonist who is far from a good person.