Friday, 2 September 2016

The Sopranos, Season 5 (2004)

I found it quite difficult to write my review of The Sopranos fourth season, because it basically amounted to "it continues to evolve its basic premise in a satisfying manner".  Thankfully this season gives me a couple of talking points, which will make writing it a lot easier.

Of course, when I say "talking points", I basically mean "things to complain about".  So I'd better begin things by confirming that this season also continues to evolve the show's basic premise in a satisfying manner: the ongoing tribulations brought into Tony Soprano's life by his real family, his work family, and (most pointedly) his own indiscretions continue to make for highly engaging viewing.

That said, the show does have a couple of foibles.  Firstly, season five brings us the third iteration of the same basic character arc: an ambitious underling returns to the family after an extended absence, causes trouble for Tony due to their insubordinate actions, and comes to a bad end.  Now to be fair to the writers, they do significantly change things up in the details of each arc.  Tony's relationship with each man is different; as is the specific nature of their eventual conflict.  But watching the seasons quite close together like this does make the broad stroke similarities more evident.

The second issue is dream sequences.  I've never been a huge fan of their use in The Sopranos, as they've generally been used as an excuse for Tony to have some kind of epiphany: "such and such is informing on me", for instance.  It's always felt like a slightly lazy trick, but because the sequences were generally short I haven't worried about it too much.  The eleventh episode of this season, however, features a twenty minute dream sequence, which I found very tiresome indeed.

Neither of these is really deal breaking problems, though.  The show overall remains a strong one, with interesting characters, some genuine surprises, and a healthy vein of black humour.

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