The Sopranos



The Sopranos is an American television drama broadcast on HBO about a fictional Italian-American Mafia family in Northern New Jersey not far from South Orange. It has enjoyed six successful seasons — filming began on the last 8 episodes in July 2006 - they are scheduled to be broadcast starting in March 2007.

Since it first aired in 1999, the show has become a cultural phenomenon, gaining wide popularity and exceptional critical acclaim for its groundbreaking approach to its view into the Mafia lifestyle, the American family, the Italian American community, the effects of violence on the human soul and the grey area between what society considers morally right and wrong. Like other HBO programs, The Sopranos is rated for mature audiences only—for the adult issues it deals with and depictions of violence, frontal nudity, drug use and strong language.

The series stars, among others, actors James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco, and Michael Imperioli. The cast is large and several members have been recognized for their acting ability. It highlights the difficulties faced by Tony Soprano (Gandolfini), Boss of the DiMeo Crime Family in suburban Essex County, New Jersey, as he tries to balance the often conflicting requirements of his home life and the criminal organization he heads.

Anthony "Tony" Soprano (James Gandolfini) is the boss of the DiMeo crime family and patriarch of the Soprano household. He is troubled with personal and professional problems and sees a therapist for his panic attacks. His therapist is Dr. Jennifer Melfi, (Lorraine Bracco), also an Italian-American. She is very professional and remains uninvolved but fascinated with Tony's criminal activity.

Tony's immediate family consists of his wife Carmela Soprano (Edie Falco), daughter Meadow Mariangela Soprano (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) and son Anthony "A.J." Soprano, Jr. (Robert Iler). Carmela is a proud mother and devoted wife who struggles to accept her husband's criminal activity and infidelity and maintains a social network with other Mafia wives. A.J. is initially a typical adolescent and struggles with ADD and teenage rebellion. Meadow is a gifted student who rationalizes her fathers business and grows up to pursue a career in law.

Tony's extended family includes his mother Livia Soprano, (Nancy Marchand), sisters Janice Soprano and Barbara Soprano, uncle Corrado "Junior" Soprano (Dominic Chianese), cousin Tony Blundetto (Steve Buscemi) and "nephew" Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli). Livia is a shrewd manipulator and has emotional problems of her own, mainly being incapable of showing love or compassion of any kind. Janice, who has had a child in Quebec, initially is estranged from the family, but returns to New Jersey and gets into relationships with some of Tony's colleagues. Barbara has moved away to start her own family. Junior has seniority over Tony in their criminal empire and strives to maintain power. Blundetto grew up with Tony, but was convicted of armed robbery in their youth. He is finally released from prison in season five of the show.

Tony's close circle within the DiMeo crime family includes Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli), Silvio "Sil" Dante (Steven Van Zandt), Peter Paul "Paulie Walnuts" Gualtieri (Tony Sirico) and Salvatore "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero (Vincent Pastore). Sil is Tony's consigliere, Paulie and Big Pussy are longtime soldiers who have worked with Tony and his father. Christopher is Tony's protegé in the business. Also in Tony's crew are Patsy Parisi (Dan Grimaldi) and Furio Giunta (Federico Castelluccio). Patsy is another aging soldier with a talent for book-keeping. Furio is imported muscle from an associated Italian crime family.

Other significant characters in the DiMeo family include Bobby "Bacala" Baccalieri (Steven R. Schirripa), Richie Aprile (David Proval), Ralph Cifaretto (Joe Pantoliano), Eugene Pontecorvo (Robert Funaro) and Vito Spatafore (Joseph R. Gannascoli). Bobby is a subordinate of Junior's who Tony often bullies and becomes involved with Janice. Cifaretto is ambitious and often makes life difficult for Tony. Richie Aprile is released from prison in season two and immediately becomes an adversary for Tony. Pontecorvo is a young soldier who becomes a made man alongside Christopher. Spatafore works his way up through the ranks as his superiors die, but has a secret that isn't revealed until the fifth season.

Friends of the Soprano family include Adriana La Cerva (Drea de Matteo), Rosalie Aprile (Sharon Angela), Angie Bonpensiero (Toni Kalem), Artie Bucco (John Ventimiglia) and Charmaine Bucco (Kathrine Narducci). Adriana is Christopher's girlfriend; the two have a tempestuous relationship. Rosalie is the widow of a close friend of Tony's who stays tied to the organization. Angie is Salvatore Bonpensiero's wife who later goes into business for herself. Artie and Charmaine are school friends of the Sopranos and restaurateurs.

Johnny "Sack" Sacrimoni (Vince Curatola), Phil Leotardo (Frank Vincent) and "Little" Carmine Lupertazzi, Jr. (Ray Abruzzo) are all significant characters from the Lupertazzi crime family, which shares much of its business with the Soprano organization.

The series begins with Tony Soprano collapsing after suffering an anxiety attack, which prompts him to begin therapy with Dr. Jennifer Melfi. Gradually, the storyline reveals that Tony's mother was manipulative and possibly psychotic, his children have troubled futures, someone in his organization is talking to the FBI and his own Uncle is plotting his death. Tony's Uncle Junior had been installed as boss of the family while Tony controls things from behind the scenes. Furious at Junior's plan to have him killed, Tony responds to the attempt on his life with a violent reprisal and confronts his mother for her role in plotting his downfall. She has a psychologically triggered pseudostroke. Tony's Uncle Junior is arrested by the FBI.

In the second season Richie Aprile is released from prison and proves to be uncontrollable in the business arena as well as starting a relationship with Tony's sister Janice. Tony's friend Big Pussy returns to New Jersey after a conspicuous absence and Tony realises he is an FBI informant. Forced to face up to these problems Tony personally kills Big Pussy. Janice kills Richie in a violent argument before Tony is forced to deal with him.

In the third season the ambitious Ralphie Cifaretto returns to Tony's organization after a long absence in Florida. He gets involved with friends of Tony's family and despite a personal animosity Tony promotes him. Jackie Aprile, Jr. becomes involved with Tony's daughter and then descends into a life of crime. Tony confronts him but is unable to influence him. Jackie is killed by Tony's organization after a botched robbery attempt.

In the fourth season Tony murders Ralphie in a violent rage after a racehorse dies suspiciously. Tony's marriage finally breaks down and Carmella leaves him. Tony is approached by his friend in the Lupertazzi Crime Family Johnny Sack with a proposal to murder Carmine Lupertazzi, which he eventually turns down.

In the fifth season Tony's cousin Tony Blundetto is released from prison alongside other mob figures. Carmine dies unexpectedly and his failure to nominate a successor leads to a power struggle in New York. Despite trying to avoid returning to organized crime Blundetto gets involved in the war against Tony's orders. When Blundetto kills the brother of Phil Leotardo Johnny demands that Tony turn him in. Refusing to do so provokes New York and eventually Tony elects to kill Blundetto himself rather than hand him over. Just as Tony and Johnny are about to reconcile he is arrested. Tony manages to convince Carmella to take him back.

In the first part of the sixth season Tony is shot by Uncle Junior, now senile and confused. Following the shooting Tony has a strange experience while in a coma. This changes his outlook and he tries to change his actions. However he is faced with more problems in his business life. Vito Spatafore is outed as a homosexual and Tony is urged to deal with the problem by Phil Leotardo, now boss of New York with Johnny Sack in prison. When Tony fails to act Phil intervenes and kills Spatafore. Tony's crime family commit a reprisal murder once more and seem on the verge of all out war with New York.

One of the unique aspects of The Sopranos is the use of dream sequences. They are employed in an unusual way, using heavy symbolism and foreshadowing, to convey what characters (particularly Tony) are thinking and feeling, but not saying. Some of the more famous dream sequences include Tony talking to Big Pussy as a fish and realizing his friend is an FBI informant. The dream reveals that Tony subconsciously knew all along that Pussy was a snitch. In the dream Pussy (the fish) tells Tony, "You knew, that's why you passed me over for promotion." Another famous sequence is the 20+ minute sequence in "The Test Dream."

Season six bore the longest continuous "dream" sequence with Tony as a regular man having his identity mistaken for a man named Kevin Finnerty. The "Kevin Finnerty" dream appears to symbolize Tony's fears of life after death. The name "Kevin Finnerty" is discussed in the dream as containing the word "infinity". In the dream, Tony is stuck in a city he had traveled to for business, and because of mistaken identity, he cannot travel home. This can be construed as a representation of purgatory. When he looks out his hotel window, he sees a flashing light, which may represent Heaven. He is told a red glow in the other direction is a fire, which may represent Hell.

While it is apparent the makers of the show enjoy these dream sequences, critical and popular opinion is highly mixed as their effectiveness, and tolerance, for them.

Eggs foreshadow the occurrence of something unfortunate, generally a loss of life, loss of sanity, or both. A similar foreshadowing occurs in The Godfather film series whenever oranges appear on screen.

For example: In "Commendatori" Pussy's wife drops a carton of eggs when Pussy comes down stairs and he later kills an acquaintance who spotted him with his FBI handler; In "Long Term Parking", Adriana offers to make Christopher eggs after admitting she has been working with the FBI, she is killed shortly afterwards; In "Watching Too Much Television" Irina offers to make egg salad before Tony beats Zellman with a belt; In "Whoever Did This" Ralph offers to make Tony eggs for breakfast just before Tony murders him; In "Two Tonys" Carmine Lupertazzi suffers a stroke when eating egg salad; later, Uncle Junior asks Bobby to make Tony an egg, then calls Tony Blundetto "Tony Egg" by mistake, right before the phone rings and it is announced that Carmine has died; In "The Test Dream" Valentina has her kimono catch on fire from the stove while preparing egg substitutes for Tony; after Christopher is shot his mother offers to make him eggs for breakfast the next morning; Finally, Tony Soprano steps in broken eggs just before resolving to murder his cousin, Tony Blundetto in "All Due Respect".

Some more tenuous examples also exist. Richie Aprile offers to make Tony eggs when Tony finds him sleeping in Janice's house. He is shot by Janice a few episodes after that. AJ offers Carmela a poorly made poached egg in the episode "College"; later Tony kills Fabian Petrullio. Also, before Mikey Palmice is killed in "I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano", Carmela is seen making scrambled eggs. In "The Weight", while Junior and Tony are discussing ordering a hit on Johnny Sack, they watch an episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire where the contestant has used up all his lifelines and gets an answer wrong - the answer, "eggs". In "For All Debts Public and Private", Tony and Bobby Baccalieri stop by a diner after Tony gives Chris the address of the man that murdered his father. Tony orders scrambled eggs and tomato slices. Later in the episode, Baccalieri's wife Karen makes Junior eggs after he finds out the nurse in his doctor's office was working for the FBI.

In a 2006 interview with Mark Lawson for the BBC, creator David Chase claimed that all egg-related symbolism was unintentional and purely coincidental.

Animals are often used as symbolism in the show. Most famously, ducks are used in the first season to represent Tony's family, squirrels are used in the fourth season to represent the changing times, and a black bear is used in Season Five to represent Tony himself. In Season Three, after Dr. Melfi is raped leaving work, she has a dream in which a rotweiller appears to save her from the assulter. She later realises the significance of the rotweiller as a descendant of Roman guard dogs, loyal but fierce, relating it to the nationality and nature of Tony, whom she trusts.

Also, Tony has shown a certain fondness for animals that (as Dr. Melfi points out) he doesn't show towards people, apparently as a form of displaced affection. Tony's depression originally began when the family of ducks left his pool. The race horse Pie-O-My in Season Four brought out Tony's soft side, and the animal's death in a stable fire demanded as bloody a payback as if she had been a member of his family. And Tony showed more anger at Christopher when finding out that he had accidentally killed Adriana's dog, Cosette, than when he discovered that Chris was still using drugs. Tony was also deeply upset when he found out that his father had given away his childhood dog, Tippy, to his mistress, Fran Felstein.

The time "three o'clock" seems to have some significance. The time was first mentioned in the Season One episode "Meadowlands" when Tony dreams that he sees his mob associates visiting Dr. Melfi's office and she says, "Heshie? He has a three o'clock." In the Season Two episode, "From Where to Eternity," Christopher comes out of a coma thinking he was in hell and gives a message to Tony and Paulie from Brendan Filone and Mikey Palmice: three o'clock.

In Season Six, Vito calls Silvio at 3:00 AM from a cheap motel room after he realizes that his sexual preference for men has been discovered by New York mob members, in hopes of determining whether the news had yet spread to the Soprano family. Later in Season Six, in "The Ride," Paulie wakes up at 3:00 to call his doctor to find out whether he has prostate cancer or not.

It might also be notable that the time three o'clock in fact holds great significance in Catholicism. It is generally held among many Catholics today, in part due to the various visions and insight of Roman Catholic Augustinian nun Anne Catherine Emmerich, that three o'clock in the afternoon was the time of day that Jesus died.

The mobsters in the series are depicted as tough, savvy, street smart hooligans who are woefully lacking in education and various aspects of common sense. The characters are frequently oblivious to the humorous usage of their language and their malapropisms are often left as jokes for viewers. In the third episode of Season 6, Paulie pronounces "Mayhem" as "Mayham", thus giving the episode its title. In the first appearance of New York mob boss Carmine Lupertazzi in Season 3, he reassures Tony that seeing a therapist is nothing to be ashamed of: "There's no stigmata." In another instance of irony, in the second episode of season one, "Paulie Walnuts" Gualtieri laments to "Big Pussy" in the coffee shop that Americans are stealing Italian culture and making money as a result (pizza, calzones, etc. are cited as examples). Paulie also cites "Expresso" (emphasis on "X") coffee as something stolen by Americans from Italian culture and sold in the mainstream for profit; the coffee is actually pronounced "Espresso".

Mobsters also frequently misunderstand history and basic common knowledge. In particular Paulie, who mentions what he thinks caused the extinction of the dinosaurs and a lady diner queries "wasn't that a meteor?", to which Paulie dismissively throws back "they're all meat-eaters". (Paulie also believes snakes reproduce spontaneously.) When Tony Blundetto becomes involved in a business dealing with a Korean, Paulie reminds him to "remember Pearl Harbor". Paulie also mixes up Chechnians with Czechoslovakians, after speaking with Tony over the phone. Although the phone call had a bad connection because Paulie was lost in the woods at the time, it is implied that he probably was not smart enough to know the difference between the two groups, similar to mistaking Austrians with Australians.

Often, the ignorance of the mobsters is used as a source of humor for the series. For example, in the pilot, Christopher explains his understanding that Polish people are from Czechoslovakia. In Season 4, he believes his girlfriend has two uteruses. In many instances, Tony is told something by Dr. Melfi and repeats it elsewhere, only to get the phrase entirely wrong or miss the point completely. An example is the moment when Melfi told him that his relationship with Gloria can be described as "Amour Fou" ("crazy love"), and Tony repeated the phrase to Gloria describing their affair as "Our Mofo". Another mistake involves a scene during season 5, episode 10, titled "Cold Cuts", where Tony says "revenge is like serving cold cuts" only to be corrected shortly after by Dr. Melfi: "Revenge is a dish best served cold". In "Commendatori" Paulie travels to Italy and attempts to blend in with the locals, but does not realize that he is repeatedly being mocked. On another occasion with Dr. Melfi, Tony remarks that he has read a book she recommended, "The Art of War," by Sun Tzu, but that many of his compatriots have read Prince Matchabelli, a malapropism that simultaneously alludes to a perfume and "The Prince," by Niccolo Machiavelli.

Many key plots of the show highlight the ineptitude of these characters. Much of the episode "Pine Barrens" was devoted to the failings of Paulie and Christopher as they attempted to survive in a snowy wilderness over a single day and night after an execution gone wrong. In this episode, Tony tells them to be careful with the subject of their execution as he once allegedly killed 16 Chechnyan rebels as part of the Russian Interior Ministry. Yet, when Paulie repeats this claim later, he says that the subject killed 16 Czechoslovakians and was an interior decorator.

Another example of ineptitude displayed is when the Family bought the gravestone bearing the nickname of deceased gangster "Joey Peeps", rather than his real name "Joseph Pepperelli", of which some were apparently unaware. Interestingly, throughout the series, these jokes are often told at funerals. Another example being at the funeral of Ray Curto: many Family members commented on what a "standup" guy he was, oblivious to the fact that he was an FBI informant.

Characters, particularly Tony, are often shown watching movies or TV shows on television. Tony is often seen watching documentaries on The History Channel. The use of certain scenes in these documentaries and movies are used to foreshadow events that are going to happen, or to symbolize the situation that Tony and/or other characters are in. An example of this is Uncle Junior watching a Paths of Glory scene in "Members Only" that had Adolphe Menjou's character (General Broulard) telling Kirk Douglas's character (Colonel Dax) "You've spoiled the keenness of your mind by wallowing in sentimentality... You are an idealist, and I pity you as I would the village idiot." This was used to symbolize the deterioration of Uncle Junior's memory and his relationship with Tony.

Also, FBI warnings of piracy and "illegal" distribution of pirated DVDs are always shown in their entirety (lasting a number of seconds) whenever characters begin watching a movie - e.g when Chris watches a bootleg DVD of The Godfather, and when Carmela and friends watch Citizen Kane. These two FBI warnings were displayed when a known informant was in the room. (Big Pussy was present when Chris watched The Godfather, and Adriana was at the viewing of Citizen Kane.)

Movies are also a source of inspiration for the show. Christopher's obsession with becoming a screenwriter has been a long-running storyline on the show. In the first and second seasons, he wrote a script called "You Bark, I Bite" but struggled to complete it. In season six, he hired former AA sponsor, JT Dolan, to write a script titled "Pork Store Killer" (later renamed "Cleaver"). On occasion, he uses movie references to describe the situation he is in. In addition, Ralph Cifaretto has a fascination with gladiator movies. Ridley Scott's Gladiator (2000), in particular, seems to stimulate Ralph's bravado and he can be heard quoting several lines from the film during the third season.

Media theorist Marshall McLuhan serves as inside joke in "House Arrest", aired in the second season. Junior gets a visit in the hospital from a Michael McLuhan, who is a U.S. Marshal. The nurse asks if his name is really 'Marshal' McLuhan. Junior wonders what the "joke" is.

David Chase has noted in several interviews that the Martin Scorsese gangster film Goodfellas was a source of inspiration for him, calling the 1990 movie his "Koran".

The Sopranos opened with four starring cast members (Lorraine Bracco, Michael Imperioli, Tony Sirico and Vincent Pastore) who had appeared in Goodfellas. Later Frank Vincent (Phil Leotardo) joined the cast - he also appeared in Goodfellas. Recurring characters played by actors who also appeared in Goodfellas include Barbara Soprano Giglione (Nicole Burdette), Larry Boy Barese (Tony Darrow), Carmine Lupertazzi (Tony Lip), FBI Chief Frank Cubitoso (Frank Pellegrino), Albie Cianflone (John "Cha Cha" Ciarcia), Mary De Angelis (Suzanne Sheperd), Beansie Gaeta (Paul Herman), Joanne Moltisanti (Marianne Leone, also played by Goodfellas alumna Nancy Cassaro in one earlier episode) and Pat Blundetto (Frank Albanese). Anthony Caso appeared in The Sopranos episode "46 Long" as Martin Scorsese and had a small part in Goodfellas. Actor Chuck Low appeared as Jewish character Morrie in Goodfellas and Chassidic hotel owner Mr. Teitlemann in The Sopranos. Actors who have had small roles in The Sopranos and Goodfellas include Tobin Bell, Gene Canfield, Gaetano LoGiudice, Vito Antuofermo, Frank Adonis, Anthony Alessandro and Victor Colicchio. There has been a total of 24 actors who have appeared in both productions.

There are several nods to Goodfellas in the show, including Christopher shooting a bakery store cashier in the foot, muttering "it happens". (Imperioli's character, Spider, was shot in the foot in the film.) Another character, Phil Leotardo, shot Angelo Garepe in the trunk of a car (Frank Vincent's character in Goodfellas was shot and stabbed in the trunk of a car).

Additionally, the opening of almost every season (Tony Soprano picking up a newspaper at the end of the driveway in his bathrobe) is a nod to the final scene of Goodfellas, where Ray Liotta, as Henry Hill, does the same thing.

Many of the characters are interested in The Godfather series of movies and some of the actors who portray them also appear in the films. For example in The Godfather Part II, Dominic Chianese (Junior Soprano) plays Johnny Ola and Tony Sirico (Paulie Walnuts) has an uncredited role as a gangster. In The Godfather, Tony Lip (Carmine Lupertazzi) and Lou Martini, Jr. (Anthony Infante) appeared as wedding guests. In The Godfather Part II, Richard Maldone (Albert Barese) had a small role as Joey.

Christopher Moltisanti is practically obsessed with the films' depictions of the Mafia. They have all watched the films so often that Paulie, for example, refers to The Godfather star Al Pacino in conversation simply as "Al", and several of the characters refer to the movies by their numbers: the first movie in the trilogy is simply referred to as "one". Tony and his crew sometimes discuss favorite scenes from the films: e.g. Tony's favorite is when Vito Corleone returns to Sicily. Silvio Dante in the early seasons would impersonate Al Pacino, from The Godfather Part III, saying "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." He has done impersonations of the scene in The Godfather Part III between Michael Corleone and Al Neri where Michael says "Our true enemy has yet to reveal himself," (followed, tellingly, by an immediate cut to a shot of Big Pussy.) The mobsters compare themselves to the cinematic images of organized crime in The Godfather trilogy, as well as other well known films about the Mafia, such as Goodfellas.

There are also various visual homages to the Godfather trilogy. Just before Tony is shot in a failed assassination attempt in Season One, he buys a bottle of orange juice, a reference to Vito Corleone buying oranges during a similar attempt on his life. In Season Five, Carmine Lupertazzi suffers a fatal stroke while eating brunch. At the table, all the glasses are filled with water, except Carmine's, which has orange juice. In addition, following the death of Livia Soprano in Season Three, there is a point-of-view shot of Tony taking an elevator to the funeral home basement. The scene is a direct homage to the scene in The Godfather where Vito calls on a favor to Bonasera following the murder of his son, Santino. In "The Test Dream" we hear Annette Bening make a reference to the line "not coming out of the toilet with only his cock in his hand", and we see Tony reach behind the cistern for a gun in the same way Michael does in The Godfather.

The show has been a vehicle for David Chase's views on life and the world at large since the first season. Many episodes reference real life events such as the O.J. Simpson murder trial, President Bill Clinton's impeachment, 9/11, the War in Iraq, the Danish Muhammed cartoons, and Hurricane Katrina. There have also been many plot devices and stories that offer a commentary on modern society. One example is when Tony realizes that Johnny Sack is lying to him about not stealing Vespa scooters from Port Newark when he sees a news story about the flaws of port security. Another example being the storyline of Tony selling the property of Caputo's Poultry Store, a small business, to Jamba Juice, a large corporate juice chain. In the same episode, the difficulty of applying the "old" ways of organised crime to the "new" capitalism of multinationals such as Starbucks is also explored. Furthermore, the business side of Tony's life could be considered to be a commentary on the excesses and cutthroat nature of Corporate America, especially in light of recent scandals in the past decade such as Enron and Worldcom.

The Sopranos has been consistent in the frequent depiction of actual brand names for products on the program - this practice is widely regarded as product placement in the media. HBO officially denies that it accepts product placement - paid or otherwise - and asserts that brands depicted are not a commercial decision, but a creative one made by the show's producers. In terms of brands seen in the program, Soprano family members, for instance, typically drink Tropicana, Snapple, or Coca-Cola. Motorola and Nokia cellphones and Apple Computers are sometimes seen. Some devices utilized include scene settings (scenes have taken place in OfficeMax, Home Depot, and Costco stores) and products directly incorporated into the storyline, such as luxury cars (the Chevrolet Suburban, Cadillac Escalade, Nissan Xterra, and Porsche Cayenne S SUVs as well as the Maserati 4200 GT sports car and Mercedes E-class Station Wagon have all been plot devices) and the New Jersey newspaper, The Star Ledger, which is regularly seen reporting on the show's storyline. Several of HBO's other shows have been used in The Sopranos episodes such as Curb Your Enthusiasm and Band of Brothers. On at least one occasion, reference was made by Tony to the Showtime series The L Word, though not by name. Other examples of intertextuality include references to Goodfellas, starring Lorraine Bracco (Jennifer Melfi) and The Matrix, starring Joe Pantoliano (Ralph Cifaretto).

As of the sixth season, there have been numerous arrests for many of the actors that appear on the series. Because of the popularity and subject matter of the show, these arrests were widely reported by the news media:

1. Lillo Brancato Jr. - Played Soprano associate Matthew Bevilaqua, a major character in the second season. He was arrested and charged with second degree murder. He was an accomplice in a robbery, resulting in a police officer's death when Brancato's partner Steven Armento engaged in gunfire with the off-duty officer.

2. John Ventimiglia - The actor who has played Artie Bucco throughout the series was charged with DWI and drunk driving with an alcohol level of 0.12. He was also carrying a bag that had cocaine residue.

3. Louis Gross - Portrayed Perry Annunziata in the sixth season. He was arrested and charged with criminal mischief after breaking into a woman's home claiming he was there to take back possession of his belongings.

4. Robert Iler - The actor who plays Anthony Soprano, Jr., was arrested for armed robbery of two Brazilian tourists and possession of marijuana. He plead guilty to a charge of larceny and received three years probation.

5. Vincent Pastore - The actor who played mob soldier turned rat Big Pussy Bonpensiero was charged for assaulting his girlfriend during an argument in a car. He allegedly smacked her head around and slammed it into the auto's gear shift. He then yanked her out of the car. He received community service hours.

6. Tony Sirico - The actor who plays mob underboss Paulie Walnuts was charged with numerous criminal activities totaling 28 arrests before joining the cast. Some of his more notable arrests were for a chain of nightclub hold-ups.

7. Richard Maldone - The actor who played Acting Capo Albert Barese has been arrested and convicted for assault, grand larceny, forgery, and criminal possession of stolen property. He was recently arrested on a drug charge that could have landed him 15 years, but the case was dismissed.

The Sopranos is the most critically praised show of its time. It has been consistently hailed as one of the best shows on television and has been judged the top drama series of all time by TV Guide and appears as the fifth highest show on their Top 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time list (behind only Seinfeld, I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners and All in the Family). The show topped virtually every "Best TV Show" list in its debut season in 1999, with the New York Times calling it "the greatest work of American popular culture in the last 25 years". Newsweek has said in the past that it was "far and away, the best show on television".

The Sopranos is the most successful cable series of all time, reaching a peak of 13.4 million viewers for the fourth season premiere. As a sign of its popularity, advertisements for the show starting with the fourth season feature just a promotional shot of the regular cast with the title of the show omitted from the advertisement. This perhaps signifies that the characters are so recognizable that people viewing the advertisement don't need to see the words "The Sopranos" to know what it is. Early sixth season promotional posters just had the premiere date of "March 12" with a hand holding a gun replacing the "r" in March. Despite diminished ratings for the sixth season due to competition from the hit ABC series, Desperate Housewives, The Sopranos was the #1 cable series for the season.

However, the show has faced a variety of criticisms. It has been called anti-Italian, with discrimination directly aimed at Italian-Americans due to a certain mob stereotype. The discrimination claim, which has occurred throughout its entire run, led to a bizarre moment when the cast was banned from participating in the Columbus Day Parade weeks after "Christopher", an episode that revolved around the threat of mob violence when local Native Americans threatened to protest a Columbus Day parade, aired.

The National Italian-American Foundation, a frequent critic of The Sopranos, and what it views as negative depictions of Italian-Americans on the series, supported the decision made by The Columbus Citizens Foundation to exclude cast members from the parade. The NIAF also expressed dismay at Mayor Bloomberg's decision to include cast members from the series in New York City's annual Columbus Day Parade. The show has referenced these criticisms, including a satirical portrayal of an organization similar in nature to the NIAF, in various episodes, particularly those written by Michael Imperioli.

Many have claimed that the series' content is too vulgar and violent. The beating and subsequent death of Tracee and the rape of Dr. Melfi from the third season are two examples of the show pushing the envelope when it comes to on-screen violence. However, some fans have criticized the fourth season for lacking the violence that the other seasons contained.

Many viewers have also been frustrated by how many storylines are left unfinished, the most frequent examples being the missing Russian, Valery, from "Pine Barrens" and Dr. Melfi's rapist from "Employee of the Month". David Chase has insisted that both storylines were self-contained and not meant to be long running story arcs. The writers of the show are known for building certain storylines very slowly and seemingly forgetting about them for months and even years and then bringing them up briefly in certain episodes before paying off the storyline, one of the best examples being the Raymond Curto/FBI informant storyline.

The first part of the sixth season, in particular, has been criticized for being slow-moving and unfocused. The meandering nature of the season left many fans and critics unsatisfied about the lack of resolution in many episodes, particularly the final episode of 2006, "Kaisha" It should be noted that "Kaisha" is technically a mid-season episode rather than a finale as many assumed. HBO and David Chase have maintained that the sixth season is an extended 20 episode season split into two parts, not two separate seasons of 12 and 8 episodes. The practice of separating a long season into two parts has been used for the final season of HBO's Sex and the City (which also split their 20 episode final season into 12 and 8 episode parts), the second season of the Sci Fi Channel series, Battlestar Galactica, the first season of the Fox drama, Prison Break and the USA Network series, Monk. Still, the sixth season was acclaimed for the most part by the critics, tying for top show of the 2006 season in the TelevisionWeek Critics Poll with Lost. It was also nominated for Outstanding Drama Award at the Emmy's, Season 6 (Part 1) received fewer nominations than the previous 5 seasons.

Despite the criticisms, the show has often been fondly referenced by many television programs. The opening sequence was parodied in an episode of The Simpsons in 2002, with Fat Tony standing in for Tony Soprano in "Papa's Got a Brand New Badge", followed by a sequence in which what are clearly drawings of Silvio Dante, Paulie Walnuts and Christopher Moltisanti appear as the "Jersey Muscle", though without speaking. The Sopranos was also parodied in the Adult Swim show Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, in 2003, in an episode where Fred Flintstone is a mob boss. During the 2001 Fox NASCAR coverage of the Coca-Cola 600, a segment called "The Pit Reporters" was played where Chris Myers is Tony Soprano and Jeanne Zelasko is Dr. Melfi. It was inspired by an incident where FOX NASCAR studio host Chris Myers and analyst Jeff Hammond were attacked by Super Soaker water gun-wielding pit reporters Dick Berggren and Matt Yocum during a rain delay at The Winston. Myers commented, "They should appear in The Sopranos". For the 600, Tony Soprano (Myers) makes an appearance at Dr. Melfi's (Jeanne Zelasko) office previewing the 600. The show has many other references in a wide variety of media resources. Arthur also did a parody of it once, in the episode "Bleep" but it was called "The Altos". Attack of the show did a parody called "The Marios" where Mario and Luigi acted like or out scenes from the sopranos and other mafia movies/series.

The Sopranos had a cameo appearance in Michael Jackson's music video for You Rock My World (2001).

After being nominated for and losing the Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series in 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2003 (losing to The Practice once and The West Wing three times), The Sopranos finally won the award in 2004, becoming the first and only cable series to win the award. The show has dominated the writing categories at the Emmys, picking up 17 nominations over five seasons and winning the award four times. It is also a perennial nominee at the Golden Globes (winning the Best Drama Series in 2000) and the major guild awards (Directors, Producers, Writers, and Actors).

The Sopranos has also won at least one Emmy Award for Acting in every season. Edie Falco and James Gandolfini have each been nominated five times at the Emmys for the leading roles in the show, each winning a total of three awards apiece. Joe Pantoliano won an Emmy in 2003, and Michael Imperioli and Drea de Matteo also won Emmys in 2004 for their supporting roles on the show. Other actors who have received Emmy nominations include Lorraine Bracco, Dominic Chianese, Nancy Marchand, Aida Turturro, Steve Buscemi, and Annabella Sciorra.

In 2006, The Sopranos received its sixth Emmy nomination for Outstanding Drama Series, but lost the award to 24. The show has been nominated in the category for every season. While three-time Emmy winners, James Gandolfini and Edie Falco, were snubbed in the Outstanding Lead Actor and Actress in a Drama Series category, Michael Imperioli received his fifth nomination as Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.

* The show was originally slated to air on the FOX network and a pilot had already been made. However, FOX rejected the show and HBO picked up the series.
* When the show was a FOX project, it was known as Made in Jersey. Other titles that were considered included The Family Guy and Red Sauce.
* HBO was concerned about the show's title The Sopranos because they did not want viewers to think it was about music. Therefore, there is a gun where the "r" should be in the logo.
* The tumultuous relationship between Tony Soprano and his mother, Livia Soprano, is based partially on David Chase's relationship with his own mother, Norma.
* The character of Tony Soprano was originally named Tommy.
* The show has become notorious for its long hiatuses and delays. Whereas most TV programs experience a 3-5 month wait in between seasons, The Sopranos has taken a longer time in between each season finale and premiere. This is mostly due to scheduling conflicts for the actors and the freedom HBO gives David Chase in developing storylines for the series.
* Tony Sirico signed on to play Paulie Walnuts as long as his character was not to be a "rat".
* Lorraine Bracco, who had previously played the role of mob wife, Karen Hill in Goodfellas, was originally asked to play the role of Carmela. She took the role as Dr. Melfi because she felt that would be more of a challenge for her. Coincidentally, Suzanne Shepherd, who played Karen Hill's mother in Goodfellas, now plays Carmela's mother in The Sopranos.
* David Chase loved Drea de Matteo's acting and enthusiasm as a Maitre'D (at a restaurant Tony and Dr. Melfi dined at) in the pilot so much that he made her a series regular in "Denial, Anger, Acceptance".
* Steve Van Zandt (Silvio Dante) and David Proval (Richie Aprile) auditioned to play Tony Soprano. Ray Liotta was a prime candidate for the role of Tony Soprano ahead of James Gandolfini.
* Before starring as mobster Vito Spatafore in season two, Joseph R. Gannascoli appeared as a pastry shop patron named "Gino" in the season one episode "The Legend of Tennessee Moltisante".
* Six members of the cast of The Sopranos appeared in Mickey Blue Eyes in the same year that The Sopranos began: Tony Sirico (Paulie Walnuts), John Ventimiglia (Artie Bucco), Aida Turturro (Janice Soprano), Vincent Pastore (Salvatore "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero), Frank Pellegrino (Bureau Chief Frank Cubitoso), and Joseph R. Gannascoli (Vito Spatafore).

One of the most recognizable parts of The Sopranos is the program's opening, which is accompanied by the theme song "Woke Up This Morning" by the British band, Alabama 3 (the band are known as A3 in the U.S. for legal reasons). Tony Soprano is seen emerging from the Lincoln Tunnel and entering the New Jersey Turnpike. Numerous landmarks in and around Newark, New Jersey are shown. The sequence ends with Tony pulling into the driveway of his suburban home.

Between Tony leaving the tunnel and entering the New Jersey Turnpike, an image of the World Trade Center towers can be seen in his rear view mirror. Just prior to the start of the fourth season, HBO and Sopranos creator David Chase removed this shot in response to the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001.

* A majority of the television sets on the show are made by Philips with several by Sony and Zenith.
* The Sopranos live at 633 Stag Trail Road in North Caldwell, New Jersey.
* The actual Address of the house is 14 Aspen Drive, North Caldwell, NJ
* Though filmed on location in New Jersey, a majority of the interior filming is done at Silvercup Studios in Queens, New York.
* All Bada Bing interior and exteriors are filmed on location at Satin Dolls, an actual go-go bar in Lodi, New Jersey.
* Adriana's club the Crazy Horse was once known in real life as The Lollipop Club and was previously owned by Vincent Pastore, who played Salvatore "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero from 1999–2000.

The show has been noted for its fitting and eclectic music selections. David Chase and music editor Kathryn Dayak handpick every song, sometimes with the seal of approval from Steven Van Zandt. Many songs are repeated multiple times through an episode, such as "Living on a Thin Line" by The Kinks in "University" and "Glad Tidings" by Van Morrison in "All Due Respect". The creators of the show have used several artists multiple times through the course of the series, such as Annie Lennox, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, Pink Floyd, and Frank Sinatra.

An original aspect of the show is its sparse, often minimalist use of incidental music. While most TV series rely on musical scores to emphasize tension or dramatic moments, The Sopranos rarely uses this resource. The most brutal scenes are often unaccompanied by any sort of background music.

High profile rapper Nas used The Sopranos theme song as a sample in his song "Got Ur Self A..." from his critically acclaimed album Stillmatic in 2001.

In 2006, HBO.com and iTunes began offering a Sopranos "iMix", a playlists of songs featured in Season Six episodes. The website also features playlists of actors who star on the show, such as Robert Iler and Joe Gannascoli.

In May of 2006, The Sopranos videogame was announced titled "The Sopranos: Road to Respect". The story will be partly written by David Chase and will be developed by 7 Studios and published by THQ Inc. Voice talent is expected to be done by the show's stars, including James Gandolfini, Michael Imperioli, Steven Van Zandt, Tony Sirico, Vincent Pastore and Robert Iler.

The game's storyline takes place between the fifth and sixth seasons and centers around Big Pussy's illegitimate son, Joey LaRocca, as he makes his way through the family business. The character is voiced by Christian Maelen, who was David Chase's second choice to play Christopher Moltisanti. The player will be able to take missions from the main characters during this era. The Sopranos will differ from other mob-influenced games in that it will be in a linear, story driven action game as opposed to Grand Theft Auto's open-world type gameplay. However, players will be able to play Texas Hold 'Em with members of the Family and visit the Bada-Bing. Unlike the TV show, the game will focus almost exclusively on the Mafia aspect of The Sopranos rather than the blend of family/business/therapy that Sopranos fans have become accustomed to.

The game is set for a November release date for the Playstation 2 to coincide with The Sopranos Season Six: Part One DVD. An Xbox 360 version was in development, but has been cancelled, along with the PS3 version.

Stern Pinball released a Sopranos pinball machine in 2005.

There has been talk of a Sopranos feature film that was to be released after the series had ended. While this idea was reportedly scrapped in favor of "The Final Eight" episodes that are set to debut in March 2007, creator David Chase did not rule out the possibility of a Sopranos movie sometime down the road.

* Although the series was shot in HDTV (High Definition Television, 16:9 widescreen) from its inception, the show wouldn't be broadcast in this format until the fourth season (2002). The DVDs, however, maintain the widescreen format (but not resolution) of HD.

* HBO has thrown a premiere party for The Sopranos for every season. In an interview, Lorraine Bracco said that the network will forgo the premiere party of the sixth season (and all advance screenings) to preserve a surprise plot twist that occurs in the first episode of the new season. HBO did host the show's sixth season premiere at the Museum of Modern Art, but only friends of the cast and assorted A-Listers attended the event.

* The Sopranos is known for mentioning characters that don't appear until later seasons. In the first season, Christopher mentions his cousin's girlfriend, Amy, who appears in episode 20 of the second season and has sex with Christopher. Also, Tony's sisters, Janice and Barbara, are referenced in the first season before making appearances in the second. In the second and third seasons, numerous references to a gangster named Feech La Manna are made. Feech appears in multiple episodes during the fifth season.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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