In terms of Box Sets, HBO has impressed with the Sopranos DVD Collection. Season One was a pure treat on DVD. From the packaging, the layout, the quality, and the content, the First Season was a beautiful DVD release. HBO has pleased again with the release of Season Two. The quality standards have remained impeccable, and the content is as good as ever…
“In its second season, The Sopranos sustains the edgy intelligence and unpredictable, genre-warping narrative moment…m that made this modern mob saga the most critically acclaimed series of the late 1990s. Creator-producer David Chase repeatedly defies formula to let the narrative turn as a direct consequence of the characters’ behavior, letting everyone in this rogue’s gallery of Mafiosi, friends, and family evolve and deepen.
That gamble is most apparent in the rupture of the relationship that formed the spine of the first season, the tangled ties between capo Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) and monstrous matriarch Livia (Nancy Marchand), whose betrayal makes Tony’s estrangement a logical response. Filling that vacuum, however, is prodigal sister Janice (Aida Turturro), whose New Age flakiness never successfully conceals her underlying calculation and opportunism. Soprano’s relationship with therapist Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) also frays during early episodes, as she struggles with escalating doubts about her mobbed-up patient. At home, Tony contends with wife Carmela’s ruthless ambitions on behalf of college-bound Meadow, as well as son Anthony Jr.’s sullen adolescent flirtation with existentialism–the sort of touch that the show handles with a smart mix of sympathy and amusement.
Without spoiling the surprise of the season’s climactic last episode, it’s worth noting that only on The Sopranos could we expect a scene that sets up a mob hit with a perversely funny touch of magic realism–a talking fish, lying on a fishmonger’s iced display, speaking with the voice of the victim. It’s a touch at once morbid and goofy, and consistent with the show’s undimmed brilliance.” — Sam Sutherland
How often do you find a television show that is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital? Never! That is the joy of DVD! The Sopranos Second Season has a very nice DD 5.1 audio track that includes the entire range of speakers. Sure, you won’t be able to compare the audio for this set to something such as Star Wars Episode One or Saving Private Ryan, but it is as good as television can sound.
Not only does this set sound great, it also includes episode specific director’s audio commentary on four of the episodes. This is really great to listen to, especially because so much happens throughout the season, you can really get an understanding to why things were done as they were. If you really want to get inside the head of The Sopranos, listen to this commentary track.
It is very rare to find a television series that is presented in widescreen… that is one reason I love this DVD presentation. The picture is as good as can be expected for any television show. There is little to no damage to the transfer, and the colors and blacks are sharp and clear. I wish that all television shows looked this good… SIDE NOTE: I cannot wait for High Definition Television to take off!!!
Up and above the 4 specific audio commentaries, there are other goodies also included on these discs. Two featurettes are included on Disc Four that are really worth a watch. The first is entitled “The Real Deal” which deals with the impact that The Sopranos has have on society and the reality of the show. The second is entitled “Sit down with the Sopranos” which is, go figure, a compellation of interviews with the cast.
Also included are some DVD basics… cast and crew bios, awards, a season review, and Web Links. Other than these, there are not a lot of special features to sort through. But at least what they have included are valuable special features.
The menus are very nice. Each disc has different full motion menus, and they each have different audio accompanying them. All of the page transitions in this set are animated, which adds a nice overall feel to the presentation. The menus are very easy to navigate through, and are very series oriented.
Do you like The Sopranos? If so, and even mildly, you have to own this set. The quality is unsurpassed in regards to televised audio and video, the special features are good, and the packaging is simply beautiful. If you can appreciate a job well done, you really should by this HBO treat.
Special Features List
- Complete Second Season: Episodes 14-26
- Four Director Commentaries
- 2 Featurettes
- Web-links and more
- Cast & Crew Bios