On January 10, 1999, a cigar-puffing Tony Soprano drove out of the Lincoln Tunnel, onto the Jersey Turnpike, over the Meadowlands, past a 97 cent(!) gas sign, and through Jersey City before pulling into the driveway of his dull, generic suburban McMansion. In the background Alabama 3’s Woke Up This Morning throbbed on the soundtrack: “Woke up this morning, you got yourself a gun, got yourself a gun, got yourself a gun…” and with the sound of a record scratch, The Sopranos changed television forever.The Sopranos is not the first show to tell a continuing story. There was Hill Street Blues and Twin Peaks; and let’s not ignore primetime soaps like Dallas and Dynasty. The Sopranos is not the first show to ignore the 22 to 24 episode season. For decades, the television miniseries, notably Roots (1977), The Winds of War (1980), Holocaust (1978), and most especially Rich Man, Poor Man (1976), had been gripping the nation over a handful of nights as “novels for television.” What Sopranos creator David Chase did accomplish, though, was nothing less than to crack the artistic code for a medium that was well into middle age. Chase hardened the mold of the ten to… Read full this story
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