This original Home Box Office television series, which debuted in 1999, has it all: great writing, terrific characters, excellent acting, and a hot soundtrack from Sinatra to the latest bands. Anthony "Tony" Soprano Jr. becomes head of a New Jersey crime syndicate, handling drugs and protection rackets under the guise of waste management. Gandolfini makes him a remarkably charming and sympathetic anti-hero. Aside from business rivals his own age, Soprano must deal with his aging but canny mother and his deceased father's brother, "Uncle Junior." He has a beautiful but neglected wife Carmela, and two teenage kids, Meadow and Anthony Jr. In addition, stress and fainting spells have driven him to the unheard-of solution of secretly engaging a shrink -- brilliantly played by Lorraine Bracco. (She also pours out her problems with the Tony Soprano therapy to HER therapist, cameo'd by film director Peter Bogdanovich.) Always crude, violent, and racy (one of the gang's hangouts is the strip bar known as "Badda Bing," and Tony regularly has sex with a Russian concubine), the first season was surprisingly funny, the second darker in tone. But its overall emphasis on family -- by blood and business -- and its loyalties and betrayals, makes this show a winner.
The review of this Movie prepared by David Loftus