Television Revision: The Sopranos – Season 6 Part 1

The Sopranos 6.1

By Andrew Williams
June 11, 2013

Television Revision is a weekly feature in which our tuned in TV critic trawls through the best the box has to offer, giving you a primer on some of history’s finest shows (and warning you away from the specific episodes – or even seasons! – that might have ruined their reputation).

Now, this is a story all about how… After an incident with his Uncle Junior (Dominic Chianese), Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) ends up in the hospital; a situation that creates ripple effects throughout his entire organisation.

The Sopranos 6.1

Happy days? Season 6.1 of The Sopranos feels more like a collection of great moments than a great story. It’s a boom time for those who enjoy the show at its dreamiest and most philosophical, and an incredibly frustrating period for those who enjoy mafia politics and people getting whacked. Most frustratingly, it feels inessential (a couple of episodes aside) and as if the show is simply trying to find new ways to tell the same story and deliver the same message. There are two paths you can take once you’re in bed with Tony Soprano, and both of them probably spell death, but after five seasons, you would have had to be playing Angry Birds the whole time to not realise that.

That’s not to say this section of the show doesn’t contain some brilliant moments. Tony’s two-episode journey into the afterlife/purgatory/California is beautifully directed and incredibly unsettling. The paths taken by Tony’s two children remain an interesting commentary on nature and nurture (despite often being kept in the background). Unfortunately, it’s mixed in with the elevation of a minor character – Vito (Joseph R. Gannascoli) – to major player, and neither the performances nor the writing really give the associated storyline the heft it needs.

The final frontier: The Sopranos’ impeccable direction comes to the fore in a season that drags and thrills in equal measure.

The Sopranos 6.1

Top three episodes: 2) Join the Club and 3) Mayham. Tony imagines himself in a mysterious version of California while in the hospital, in a pair of genuinely haunting episodes that use a dream sequence to strong dramatic effect. 5) Mr. and Mrs. John Sacrimoni. By this point in the series, any moral shades of grey have mostly disappeared, so episodes that explore different subjects are much more interesting. This rumination on the cost of showing weakness in a world where strength is a crucial currency is beautifully constructed and superbly acted.

Worst episode: 7) Luxury Lounge. Satire has never been the strong suit of The Sopranos, and the show’s attempts to lampoon Hollywood are misguided at best. It’s a massive outlier in a normally subtle show, and paired with a storyline about a character the audience has long since stopped caring about.

Season MVP: This is probably more of a square-up after ignoring him in previous editions, but in a season without a major standout in feels only fair to give Michael Imperioli his due. He’s as good here as he’s ever been in the past, fully committing to the foibles of his character and all the malevolence that lurks beneath the surface.

3.5/5

Check out Andrew Williams’ previous instalments:

Television Revision: The Sopranos – Season 1

Television Revision: The Sopranos – Season 2

Television Revision: The Sopranos – Season 3

Television Revision: The Sopranos  Season 4

Television Revision: The Sopranos – Season 5

The Sopranos is available on Quickflix.

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