HTF REVIEW: "Sopranos Unauthorized" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Oct 8, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    Sopranos Unauthorized

    Studio: GoodTimes
    Year: 2002
    Rated: NR
    Film Length: 119 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Full Frame (1.33:1)
    Subtitles: None

    Watching Sopranos Unauthorized is sort
    of a love-hate relationship. On the one hand, the
    DVD is filled with the kind of stuff that hardcore
    fans will just eat up. On the other hand, this DVD
    is made without any cooperation from David Chase
    nor the folks at HBO. The end result is an almost
    amateur production that is brought down completely
    by the annoyance of its hosts John Fiore and Marie
    The general idea of this 2-hour documentary is
    that John Fiore and his ditzy girlfriend drive
    around in a limousine taking you to all the Soprano
    hot spots in New Jersey. If only these two idiots
    had been whacked in the opening credits would this
    documentary have succeeded. Instead, we are tortured
    in having to sit through two hours of having these
    two idiots as tour guides.
    On the plus side, this documentary almost gives
    us everything it promises: showing us secret
    filming locations in the heart of New Jersey.
    Our trip begins with a trip out of the Lincoln
    Tunnel and into Jersey City where we stop at
    Pizza Land, perhaps the most memorable landmark
    from the opening credits. Cameras go inside the
    pizzaria as we meet the owner who talks about the
    success his restaurant has enjoyed since the start
    of the show.
    Next we visit the Jersey City cemetery where
    Jackie Aprile's funeral was held in season 3.
    From there its on to Satriale's pork store which
    is actually an abandoned building that was dressed
    up to look like Centanni's meat market in Elizabeth
    (which we visit later). While the show means great
    publicity to many businesses featured in the show,
    it may mean problems for others such as Ramsey
    Outdoor Sporting Goods a portrayed in the show as
    going bankrupt. The end result was that long after
    filming, the public had a hard time believing the
    store was still in business.
    Intertwined with these locale visits are
    interviews with Vincent Passtore (Big Pussy),
    David Proval (Richie Aprile) and Vincent Curatola
    (Johnny "Sack" Sacrimoni) as well as various
    members of the crew who all have stories to tell
    about filming around the area.
    Perhaps the two biggest highlights of this
    documentary are visiting the Soprano Home in
    North Caldwell as well as Livia's home in
    Verona NJ.
    It was great driving up to the small house that
    was used as Livia's home. The elderly lady that
    owns the home was more than happy to take cameras
    inside as we immediately recognize its familiar
    staircase and fireplace. All the exterior and
    interior scenes were shot inside this home, and
    we are treated to some amateur footage of James
    Gandolfini taking some practice falls outside
    the front door.
    The next stop is perhaps one of the most famous
    homes in television history -- Tony and Carmela's
    home. Unlike Livia's home, this house was only
    used for exterior shots (including pool sequences).
    The inside rooms of the home were recreated at the
    Silvercup studios. Owners Vic and Pat Recchia take
    us on a detailed tour of the inside of the house
    that look amazingly identical to the sets that we
    see on the show every week. Amateur footage shows
    the cast in the backyard as Gandolfini, in a robe,
    takes a dip in the pool as he feeds the ducks.
    Perhaps the biggest disappointment here is our
    visit to Silvercup studios in Long Island City.
    This bread factory was abandoned in the mid 80s
    only to be turned into one of the largest film
    and television studios on the East coast.
    Inside these studios reside such sets as Christopher's
    apartment and the back room of the Bada Bing club.
    The problem is, because HBO is not participating
    with this DVD, nobody was allowed inside. The
    result is having to watch an annoying Fiore and
    Ruffolo outside of the famous studio making
    embarrassing jokes.
    The documentary wraps itself up with a visit
    to the Satin Dolls Gentleman's club in Lodi NJ,
    better known as "Bada Bing." As we go inside and
    meet the club's owner, we immediately recognize
    the very familiar bar with dance floor. Because
    of state liquor laws, there is no topless dancing
    in this club at any time.
    How is the transfer?
    There isn't too much to say about this 1.33:1
    full-frame transfer other than this low-budget
    production comes across very clear and detailed
    in both visual and sonic departments. It's basically
    television broadcast quality.
    Final Thoughts
    It's a shame that something like this was left
    in the hands of amateurs. Sure, the locales that
    we are taken to are quite interesting for fans of
    the show, but there is just so much "class" and
    production value missing from this documentary.
    The hosts of this program are absolutely god-awful,
    and all the behind-the-scenes footage comes from
    fans with video cameras (which can be good or bad).
    When we finally get to the famous Silvercup studios
    where all the interior sets are housed, we can't
    even get inside to take a look.
    Still, this documentary isn't a total loss.
    There is some real cool footage courtesy of the
    show's fans that show the cast relaxing between
    takes. These fans even manage to get a few candid
    interviews with stars Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Michael
    Imperioli and James Gandolfini. There's even
    rare footage of one of Nancy Marchand's (Livia)
    last visits to the set as fellow cast members pay
    homage to her.
    At an on-line price of under $15, this becomes
    an attractive purchase for Sopranos fans.
    Release Date: Now
  2. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

    May 19, 2002
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    Thanks for this Ron. My wife and I are fans, but as a big part of our fanaticism is the quality of the show, I’m not about to dive into a low budget, amateur release.
    I loved your introduction. And if I’m not mistaken from this week’s show, the new, operative word may be “clipped”. But I’m sure that “whacked” will resurface. [​IMG]
  3. Derek U

    Derek U Stunt Coordinator

    Sep 2, 2001
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    Thanks for reviewing this, Ron! I was debating whether or not to buy this. You have confirmed my assumption that with so many DVDs out there, right now, this one gets a pass.

  4. Matthew Brown

    Matthew Brown Supporting Actor

    Sep 19, 1999
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    This may be a rental. I grew up in this area so I first started watching the show to see how many places I recognized. Pizza Land is in North Arlington where I lived for years. They were always known for other things besides pizza but I might get clipped if I say. They do make good pizza.

    This is the perfect area for the setting of the SOPRANOS. If half of the local rumors and legends were true about mob activity, it would be enough to keep writers of mob series' inspired for years to come.

  5. Michael Taylor

    Michael Taylor Stunt Coordinator

    Jan 9, 2000
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    My wife found this on the shelf at Best Buy and expressed a lot of interest in it. I told her to hold off on it until I could find a review. Thanks Ron, for the heads up on this one. It will be one of my rare rentals if I can find it at the Evil Empire (Blockbuster).
  6. MichaelG

    MichaelG Second Unit

    Jul 10, 2000
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    I will pass, the show is great, but I don't need to see this.

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