DVDs in Review: 101# The Sopranos: The Complete Series Four

Category: , , , , By Rev/Views

I was a little mixed with my feelings on the third season of The Sopranos, it had some great moments - but it was uneven enough that as a result The Sopranos won't ever be surpassing my perennial favourites - The Wire and The Shield - in my top ten. But that said it was still light years ahead of most (non-HBO) television.

The fourth season, I'm happy to report, was a far more solid and coherent piece of quality entertainment. The family is struggling with tough economic times (sound familiar?) Uncle Jun is heading for trial and Tony himself is still struggling with his internal conflict.

I could repeat myself here by gushing about the performances, as across the board they are enchanting. In particular James Gandolfini's performance as Tony - he has this one particular expression which looks like a mix of a shark that scents blood and a toad at the bottom of a deep putrid well. There's something completely predatory and unwholesome about it, and it's always a delight to see him use it to express Tony's reaction to the situation. It's almost like he draws a foggy curtain over the front of his mind and retracts back the humanity, leaving only an animal in place.

I'll leave a further look at Tony Soprano for a later post, one which takes a look at some of the more... unpleasant leading men in television and compares/contrasts them. Suffice to say Tony's in the top tier, especially after his performance in this season (the horse incident is just superb in the way it blindsides you and then reminds you just how brutish Tony really is - if you haven't seen it, don't worry calling it 'the horse incident' is not a spoiler ;).

As with series three, series four has a handful of episodes which outshine the rest by light years - this time the vast majority of them revolve around the always entertaining Ralphie Cifaretto who initially joined the show in the third season and fast became a hugely entertaining arsehole of epic proportions. Whoever Did This is one of the greatest episodes of the show I've seen so far as is The Weight. Both of which owe a great deal to Ralphie's presence and general douche-baggery.

I think at this point it's also worth giving large props to Tony Sirico's performance as Pauile Walnuts - I've always had a fond soft spot for the character since the start of the show - and that grew a great deal after the quite brilliant 'snow' episode in the third series (Pine Barrens). He goes from strength to strength in this season; I especially enjoyed his completely inappropriate overreaction towards Christopher in Everybody Hurts - you can almost bank on Paulie getting himself into some trouble that's entirely his own creation any time he makes a decision.

I think it's fair to say that the fourth series of The Sopranos is quite excellent, I still feel that the first two seasons pulled off the strongest story lines - but there is no doubt that number four is a more complete and enjoyable entity than number three was.

The Extras:
Audio Commentaries on four episodes.
Episodic previews and recaps (for the REALLY hard of memory)
Recaps of series 1, 2 and 3 (For those of you who want to get someone up to speed quickly without having to rewatch the previous seasons).
Cast/Crew Biographies
Interactive Menus (Seriously, this is listed as a bonus feature. I wonder what the non-interactive version is like, maybe it tells you that you're not allowed to watch the show.)
Scene Access (...words fail me)

The Details:
Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
Languages: English
Rating: 18
Region: 2
Run Time: 11hours 48mins
Subtitles: The box only says English, but I found German, Italian and French amongst others.


0 comments so far.

Something to say?