The Sopranos, called by some the greatest TV show in history, is over. With a much-publicized fade-to-black finish, the series finale aired June 10, 2007, leaving fans to forever speculate about the fate of Tony Soprano. Many were disappointed at this ambiguous ending, but I’m sure a similar number enjoyed having some major loose ends.
It’s all academic for me, because I hadn’t watched the series since its season three finale, and only caught the end when this DVD set came my way for review. After catching up on seasons four, five and six (part one) through synopses, I sat down to experience The Sopranos‘ closing act.
The Sopranos – Season 6, Part 2 picks up where the first part left off. Tony and his crew are on the verge of war with Phil Leotardo and the New York family, though nothing major happens until the last few episodes. First off, we’re treated to a quartet of relatively safe but highly introspective episodes, beginning with Mr. and Mrs. Soprano joining Bobby and Janice for a lakeside weekend retreat. The season then shifts gears into much darker territory, as Tony is forced to deal with his son, A.J., and nephew, Christopher, who are both spiralling out of control. Herein lies one of the series’ biggest surprises and darkest moments, but I won’t spoil it for any stragglers out there.
The last episodes, finally, present that big, highly anticipated conflict with New York. Both sides order major hits, and the outcome seems perilously unclear until the last shots are fired. Even when a kingpin dies, the dust hasn’t settled, and the infamous fade-to-black ending leaves many questions unanswered. All told, with just nine episodes, The Sopranos packed a lot of drama into its final TV run.
Now that I’ve experienced the series finale for myself, I can say with satisfaction that I liked the ending. After a long run like this show has enjoyed, it would have been impossible to satisfy everyone, so I’m not surprised people were disappointed. “It just ends” sounds pretty lame, but not if you look back at the rest of the series, and even other HBO dramas. There’s a tendency toward this sort of realism, which makes the decision to fade to black without a whole lot of closure quite fitting.
Whether The Sopranos is truly “the greatest” TV drama of all time is for you to decide, but there’s no doubt it’s been one of the best. What’s next?
The Sopranos – Season 6, Part 2 is a four-disc set, with each of the nine episodes presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen format. The show looks really good. It’s on the dark side overall, but I’m prepared to call that an intentional, stylistic decision, rather than an issue with these transfers. After all, the series has certainly covered some gritty material over the years, and this final season is no different. There’s no grit in the picture, thankfully, which is detailed and sharp, with consistent colours. This is a top-notch TV-on-DVD set, no question.
The sound of The Sopranos is Dolby Digital 5.1, and all of the episodes sound as great as they need to. Dialogue is always clear no matter the environment or level of the characters’ blood pressure, and there’s plenty of mood, but don’t expect much from the surrounds or your sub. Not that you should, except for the odd burst of action, something that’s happened less and less since the early seasons (or so I’m told). Overall, there’s nothing to complain about with these tracks.
2.0 audio is available in Spanish, while subtitles are offered in English, French and Spanish.
I recall there not being a lot of extras on the earlier seasons’ DVD sets, and that trend has apparently continued. The Sopranos – Season 6, Part 2 isn’t much of a last hurrah in the bonus department, with just four commentary tracks and a couple of featurettes. Here’s the breakdown:
- Episode Commentary – Soprano Home Movies: by actor Steve Schirripa, who plays Bobby ‘Bacala’ Baccalieri. He does a great job, offering an enthusiastic and interesting track.
- Episode Commentary – Remember When: by actor Dominic Chianese (Uncle Junior Soprano), who doesn’t hold a candle to Schirripa’s passion, but does offer some good insight.
- Episode Commentary – The Second Coming: by Robert Iler (Anthony Soprano). This one’s somewhere in the middle, relative to the first two tracks. Worth a listen.
- Episode Commentary – The Blue Comet: by Steve Van Zandt and Arthur Nazcarella, a.k.a. Silvio Dante and Carlo Gervasi, respectively. Two’s better than one, in this case, as these guys seems to have complementary perspectives.
- Making Cleaver: an HBO-style promo piece for Christopher Moltisanti’s fictional film. Amusing and interesting, but it doesn’t really say anything about the main series.
- The Music of The Sopranos: in this 16-minute featurette, we finally hear from show creator David Chase, who talks with some other folks about the show’s music, including why certain songs were chosen for closing credits. No real insight on the big finale, though.
What more can be said? The Sopranos was a must-see show for its entire run, which makes this set a must-buy for fans of good TV on DVD. Even with HBO’s premium prices, The Sopranos – Season 6, Part 2 is good bang for your buck.