The Sopranos (HBO)
1999 | Home Box Office, Brillstein-Grey Entertainment
Combining drama with comic irony, The Sopranos elevates the mob story from a shop-worn cinematic genre into an unmatched exposition of the moral complexity of modern American life. The Sopranos is original, funny, smart and alive with gritty characters so multi-layered, recognizably and mysteriously human that audiences gossip about them as they would about mutual friends. In capturing the vision of creator and co-executive producer David Chase, the production gets everything right-from speech cadence to home decor. Mr. Chase has been associated with excellence in series television before, having been a driving force on Northern Exposure and I’ll Fly Away, programs that were recognized with the Peabody Award in 1991. The Sopranos is a more personal and disturbing work, dealing as it does with some of the seamier aspects of modern life, including violence, ethnic stereotyping and sexism. Assisting Mr. Chase in creating the first season of this landmark television drama were co-executive producer Brad Grey, co-executive producers Mitchell Burgess and Robin Green, supervising producer Frank Renzulli and producer Ilene S. Landress. The acting ensemble, among the best assembled for series television, included James Gandolfini, Edie Falco, Lorraine Bracco, Michael Imperioli, Steven Van Zandt, Dominic Chianese and the great Nancy Marchand. The Sopranos offers an up-to-the-minute catalog of contemporary culture, including Prozac, Nintendo, Attention Deficit Disorder, DVD players and corporate coffee franchises. It offers the viewer a look into the mob world that is not just deftly entertaining but eerily identifiable. The Sopranos reflects the best and worst in all of us, and represents television drama deserving of recognition with the Peabody Award.