Title: The Sopranos- season 3
Genre: Comedy / Drama
Stars: James Gandolfini (Actor), Lorraine Bracco (Actor), Alan Taylor (Director), Allen Coulter (Director)
Watched: Second season: May 4-May 12, 2011
Status: Six seasons, series finished
Summary: Still flying high
Season 3 continues to groove on the rhythm established in season 2. There aren’t any big shake ups in the formula, but by concentrating on the mob action and the relationships, it remains outstanding. There is, I think, a slight notch up in the humor. While things maintain a pretty serious level of violence, some of the episodes just seemed a bit funnier in a clever understated way.
The season starts off with the highly amusing and stylized efforts of the FBI to bug the sopranos house — really a clever reintroduction to the characters in disguise. Joe Pantolanio shows up to give us Ralph, the guy who Guido the Killer Pimp grows up to be. He serves to replace Richie as Tony’s designated pain in the ass. He’s funny (and tragic, but not for him), but he isn’t quite as interesting a figure. Mom takes a most appreciated (I found her funny but annoying) permanent vacation. There are arcs with Meadow at college and her boyfriends, with Jackie Jr, with Dr Melfi, with Christopher.
Structurally this arcs are more spread out, crossing most of season, or at least several episodes. This isn’t yet The Wire or Game of Thrones where the episodes are just arbitrary blocks of a much longer story, but it’s getting closer. Still the sense of a bigger arc for the entire season is more muted than in season 2 (where the dual “Big Pussy as informant” and “Richie makes trouble” arcs served to anchor the season).
There are some good shocker moments too like in “Employee of the Month.” I also really enjoyed the gang antics in “Pine Barrens.”
The dominant theme continues to be the co-existence of family and personal life with violence. The balance of this rather realistic portrayal and dark humor is as pretty fucking brilliant. Despite the comedy and violence, the characters feel very very real, and I think that’s the secret of the show’s success.
Also interestingly, each season ends with an Aprille death. Although the last episode is a bit of a letdown.