Reviewed by Ivana Redwine
The HBO television show "The Sopranos" is the best dramatic TV series I have ever seen. The first two seasons of the show set a very high standard, and when I watched the third season on DVD recently, I was pleased to see that it was every bit as good as the first two seasons.
The show centers around Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), a New Jersey mob boss with all the privileges and responsibilities his lofty position entails. In Season 3, Tony gets involved in a simmering feud with a subordinate named Ralph Cifaretto (Joe Pantoliano), who was brought from Miami to replace a slain mobster. Their hostility toward each other threatens to boil over when Ralph beats to death one of the girls who dances at the Bada Bing, the strip joint where Tony and his minions hang out.
Homemaker Carmela Soprano (Edie Falco) grows increasingly unhappy in her marriage to Tony, and in hopes of becoming more independent of him, she prepares to take the real estate sales exam. Meanwhile, Tony gets involved in a sizzling affair with an emotionally unstable Mercedes saleswoman named Gloria (Annabella Sciorra).
Tony and Carmela's daughter Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) is a freshman at Columbia University and lives in a dorm, but she comes home a lot. Much to Tony's displeasure, she gets into a romantic relationship with an African-American. Then Meadow falls in love with Jackie Aprile, Jr., the son of a deceased mobster, and this leads to another set of problems.
Tony and Carmela's spoiled son Anthony Jr. (Robert Iler) is in the ninth grade at a Catholic school, where he is good at football. But he and others throw furniture and trophies into the school's swimming pool just because it feels good at the moment. Eventually he is expelled from school for cheating, and Tony wants to send him to a military institute where there's no TV and he'll have to get up at 05:30 every morning.
Lots of other things happen in Season 3 as well. Tony's shrink Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) is raped and has a crisis of conscience while dealing with the aftermath. Tony's mother dies, and the family gives her a weird sendoff. Tony's Uncle Junior (Dominic Chianese) battles stomach cancer as he awaits trial for racketeering. Also, Tony's henchman Paulie Walnuts (Tony Siroco) and Tony's nephew Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) attempt to collect money from a tough Russian mobster, but end up having a harrowing wilderness experience instead.
For those who are unfamiliar with "The Sopranos," I should mention that the dialogue is laced with profanity and racial slurs, there's a fair amount of maiming and killing, and strippers wearing nothing but G-strings are shown. But the stories are richly textured, the characters are well-developed, and the programs are often inventive. Actually, "The Sopranos" contains more minutes of two people sitting in a room talking about their feelings than any evening TV series I can think of. Also, it seems to me that moral issues are confronted more in Season 3 than in previous seasons.
I think the acting in "The Sopranos" is superb. Edie Falco continues to inhabit her role of Carmela Soprano, and James Gandolfini and Lorraine Bracco are still going strong as Tony Soprano and Dr. Melfi. But what I really enjoyed about Season 3 is that the Soprano kids, Meadow and Anthony Jr., have meatier roles, and young actors Jamie-Lynn Sigler and Robert Iler do a great job of bringing these conflicted adolescent characters to life.
DVD "The Sopranos Season 3" comes packaged as a four-disc set. Disc
One contains Episodes 1 through 4, Disc Two contains Episodes 5 through 7, Disc
Three contains Episodes 8 through 10, and Disc Four contains Episodes 11 through
13. There's a commentary track for Episode 9 on Disc Three, while Disc Four contains
commentary tracks for Episodes 11 and 12. Also, there's a behind-the-scenes featurette
on Disc Four, but it's less than four minutes long. In addition, Disc Four contains
a lengthy list of the show's awards and nominations, and as far as I'm concerned,
it deserved them all.
Selected Special Features on the DVDs:
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