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and we think, “Now something’s really going to happen” … You can feel an upturn in brutality, almost as if evil is raising its voice.then a few episodes later, Meadow takes it with her to college at Columbia. Episodes like “University” and “Employee of the Month,” they’re both brilliant and still very difficult to watch.
Terence Winter: Despite what was on the page, when you get those guys out there doing it, you can describe Steve Schirripa walking out in a hunting costume . You were always lucky to get a scene of them together, and then to put those two guys in that circumstance, where they’re at each other’s throats—for me, that’s the funniest situation you can put two people in, is when two people are under pressure, literally, in an enclosed space, and have them go at each other. it was almost like a moment out of “Pine Barrens” because I could see you going, “What does it matter what happened? Have people ever stopped asking you about the Russian? But I kind of feel like we got to do that here tonight, in a way, because this, for me, is the first blatant example in of that kind of thing—the thing that most people would fixate on, the obvious, linear narrative thing like, “What happened to the Russian? They’re like, “Yeah, kids found him, they sent him to Russia and nursed him back to health, but he can’t really talk.” All through the meeting, he’s just kind of looking at Christopher, and you feel like he knows but he can’t communicate it.
Matt Zoller Seitz: And I think that’s maybe one of Tony’s best moments, is this episode, because of the madness in his eyes.
TV writers Matt Zoller Seitz and Alan Sepinwall met as critics at the Newark Star-Ledger in 1997 — the newspaper Tony picks up from his North Jersey driveway in the morning — where they followed The Sopranos from the start.
Now, they’ve written a book to mark the anniversary. Abrams, $30) offers new essays on each of the show’s 86 episodes, plus a back-and-forth on what “really” happened in that last scene.
Near the end, he says he’s proud of what the show did and all the chances it took.
Among the first critics to champion (out this week from Abrams Press), an informative, thoughtful, and handsome compendium of interviews, new critical essays, recaps, and archival writings on the series. I felt that was more in keeping with a Russian folktale or something, that the guy just disappears.The show is about our complicity in evil, how we rationalize it even as it is part of our lives.And as an audience, we’re rooting for Tony to kill his enemies, make a lot of money, and get away with it. He got into screenwriting to make a movie that went to the Cannes Film Festival and won the Palme D’Or.Seitz: People ask, “How many times have you watched each episode? If it’s one of the lighter ones, I’ve seen some 10 times. I’ve seen “University” only twice, and I’ll never watch it again.It might be the greatest of all Sopranos episodes, embodying all the Sopranos values, but I just can’t do it.Sepinwall: It was like being the music writer for the Liverpool Times in 1962. Seitz: It took a few months for the New York Times and other papers to get on the Sopranos train, and then they were all over it. They planted a flag on The Sopranos as cinema — which echoes some of the recent writing on Twin Peaks. J., just a few miles from North Caldwell, where David Chase grew up. I recognized all the places they were going to, all the local references.When Carmela says she can get Tony some sweat socks at Sports Authority, I knew exactly which Sports Authority she meant.On this date in 1999, the first episode opened on HBO with that grainy, jagged, hand-held camera sequence of North Jersey landscapes.We met the Soprano family, starting with the monumental James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano and including wife, Carmela, kids Meadow and A. Addicting millions as it went, The Sopranos ran until June 10, 2007, with that enigmatic cut to black.I call it “The HBO Show Model.” When Tony is touring colleges with Meadow, and he stumbles across a rat who’s in witness protection, you know he has to kill him. He likes Fellini movies, where you didn’t know what’s a dream and what’s real. And he gets to The Sopranos and all his years of frustration were over.There are so many little touches that make the difference.