Title: The Sopranos- season 2
Genre: Comedy / Drama
Stars: James Gandolfini (Actor), Lorraine Bracco (Actor), Alan Taylor (Director), Allen Coulter (Director)
Watched: Second season: April 29-May 3, 2011
Status: Six seasons, series finished
Summary: Ups the ante
With season 2, The Sopranos takes the formula they successfully developed in season 1 and really notches it up.
While the foundation of fun characters is great, fundamentally I think the improvement has to do with a slight toning down of the comic element (it’s still there, just slightly muted), and a concentration on the mob aspects at slight expense of Tony’s maternal and psychiatric relationships. It’s not to say that any major elements changed, the writers merely tuned up the balance.
The mob stuff is great this time around. First of all, we have a lot more violence. It actually feels pretty real. This underscores a fundamental aspect of the show, in that we are made to become very fond of a bunch of “cold hearted killers.” I’m not personally sure that this is unrealistic because everyone’s the hero in their own story. In any case, there are some great episodes here.
I particularly enjoyed “Commendatori” in which Tony, Chris, and Pauli go to Napoli for a little pow-pow with some old country gangsters. Having spent some time in Naples, this is extremely well handled, showing off that ancient city’s blend of violence, seediness, and beauty. “D-Girl,” is another really fun episode. This is predominantly a Christopher show, and in the first season his subplots were dull, but maybe it’s just living in Hollywood, or perhaps that I know Jon Favreau myself (he’s a friend of a friend), but I found it sexy and amusing.
A few new characters spice things up. I’m not that big a fan of Tony’s sister Janice, but Richie Aprile is awesome. Channeling a very short Al Pacino, he’s quite a character. This couple follow in Tony’s Ma’s tradition of stirring up trouble, both serious and comic. It all gets a little twisted — particularly his mafioso-style bedroom fetish.
Particularly in the first half of the season, there isn’t much for Dr. Melfi to do, and during the second she arcs in a way I didn’t find realistic. Family life and relationships are still paramount, but juicing up the crime intensity a bit, I felt improved the balance, moving things closer to the modern HBO style of great writing, great action, and shock.
For my review of season 1, see here.
For my review of season 3, here.
ps. What’s up with Meadow’s weight? It bounces around like a super ball. The rest of the cast (except for Christopher and his Jersey girl fiance) mostly stay what most of the characters would call, “fat fucks.”