HTF REVIEW: The Sopranos - Complete Seasons One, Two & Three (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED).

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Herb Kane, Nov 30, 2003.

  1. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    The Sopranos:
    The Complete First Season
    The Complete Second Season
    The Complete Third Season





    Studio: HBO
    Year: S1 – 2000, S2 – 2001, S3 - 2002
    Rated: Not Rated
    Film Length: S1 680 Mins, S2 696 Mins, S3 780 Mins.
    Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Enhanced Widescreen
    Audio: DD 5.1
    Color/B&W: Color
    Subtitles: None
    MSRP: S1 - $99.98, S2 - $99.98, S3 - $99.98
    Package: 5 panel Digipak in a hinged top box (all seasons are virtually identical).






    The Feature:
    Remember I said that I had never seen five minutes of The Sopranos prior to receiving The Sopranos Season Four…? My response after the Fourth Season review was “well, you guessed it…I’m hooked!” I had already put Seasons One, Two and Three on my Christmas “wish list” and Christmas arrived early (but wait, we haven’t even had snow here yet…). I suspect diehard fans will already have the set(s) but for those who do not or those (like me) who have just been introduced to the series, perhaps reviews for the sets just as we prepare our Christmas “wish lists”, might be perfect timing.

    As I said during my S4 review, I really felt like I had been missing out on a show that’s as well done as this one certainly is. I felt like a leper – all of my friends and co-workers were talking about how great this show was, and I had no idea what they were talking about. Finally, I feel like I can fit right in with the conversation. My only regret doing the Three Seasons review in this manner is that I would have really liked to do each set separately, watching each season completely in chronological order but given the extent of the sets and the limited timeframe, obviously that wouldn’t be possible. Oh well, just means I’ll have to revisit these sets in their entirety once the snow does fall and we enter that haze of hibernation…

    All of the seasons are comprised of four discs in a very nicely designed box with a hinged lid and a five panel Digipak which fits nicely inside which even includes a cloth tab which aids in removing the panel from the box. All of the sets are uniquely attractive sporting a glossy black box for S1, a glossy red box for S2 and a rich looking gold box for S3. My only complaint with the packaging is the inner plastic hub holding the discs. It’s the type with the single round hub which states “PUSH”… which renders absolutely no results whatsoever after doing so. To get the disc free you might find yourself breaking out in a cold sweat… The three seasons are comprised of the following episodes:

    The Complete First Season

    Disc One
    Episode 01: The Sopranos
    Episode 02: 46 Long
    Episode 03: Denial, Anger, Acceptance
    Episode 04: Meadowlands

    Disc Two
    Episode 05: College
    Episode 06: Pax Soprana
    Episode 07: Down Neck
    Episode 08: The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti

    Disc Three
    Episode 09: Boca
    Episode 10: A Hit is a Hit
    Episode 11: Nobody Knows Anything
    Episode 12: Isabella


    Disc Four
    Episode 13: I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano


    The Complete Second Season

    Disc One
    Episode 1: Guy Walks Into a Psychiatrist's Office
    Episode 2: Do Not Resuscitate
    Episode 3: Toodle-Fucking-oo
    Episode 4: Commendatori

    Disc Two
    Episode 5: Big Girls Don't Cry
    Episode 6: The Happy Wanderer
    Episode 7: D-Girl

    Disc Three
    Episode 8: Full Leather Jacket
    Episode 9: From Where To Eternity
    Episode 10: Bust Out

    Disc Four
    Episode 11: House Arrest
    Episode 12: The Knight In White Satin Armor
    Episode 13: Funhouse



    The Complete Third Season

    Disc One
    Episode 1: Mr. Ruggerio’s Neighborhood
    Episode 2: Proshai, Livushka
    Episode 3: Fortunate Son
    Episode 4: Employee Of The Month

    Disc Two
    Episode 5: Another Toothpick
    Episode 6: University
    Episode 7: Second Opinion

    Disc Three
    Episode 8: He Is Risen
    Episode 9: The Telltale Moozadell
    Episode 10: … To Save Us All From Satan’s Power

    Disc Four
    Episode 11: Pine Barrens
    Episode 12: Amour Fou
    Episode 13: The Army Of One



    Video:
    After watching three episodes from each season over the period of this past week, I found myself making a plethora of notes regarding the video (and audio) and after going over them (and comparing them to my recent review of Season Four), I found that basically, much of what I indicated for the Season One Series is consistent for all of the Seasons, with very few exceptions (actually, up to and including Season Four)

    I started off the review with The Pilot from Season One and initially, I was really concerned. I noticed a lot of compression artifacting, colors that weren’t visually pleasing and detail that left a lot to be desired. Thankfully, of the nine episodes I screened, the Pilot was the only episode which was rather disappointing. So, rather than typing up three identical reports for S1, S2 & S3, I have summed them up in a general conclusion since all seasons (including Season Four) are most similar in nature.

    Similar to my report on Season Four, colors aren’t excessively vibrant and seem almost (but very slightly) deliberately muted. Perhaps it’s more for the feel or the locale. Hey, I’ve never been to Joisey but I think of it in terms of how it’s presented here… Calling Ron…. Anyone?

    The image was, for the most part, sharp and detailed and black levels were deeper than anticipated. Artifacting was minimal (except for the Pilot episode) but it was never overly bothersome. EE was present albeit, very minimally, but never bothersome.

    I think some of us (admittedly, I do at times) think negatively when it comes to TV on DVD in terms of the PQ or the audio presentation, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… I have dozens of major motion pictures among my collection that beg for presentations as pleasing as these boxed sets.

    All seasons are equally impressive… Nice Job.



    Audio:
    Similar to the video notes I made, the audio presentation is also very similar in nature for all of the Seasons.

    Unfortunately, TV shows to disc aren’t usually as aggressive as big budget motion pictures, and this one is no exception. Presented in 5.1 tracks, much of this show is dialogue driven and is always clear.

    Much of the presentation is up-front. The use of surrounds were minimal but effective. Generally, all we hear is the occasional and infrequent door closing type of effect or music filler.

    As I said earlier during my Season Four review, this show is not flashy and similar is the soundtrack but it is very solid.

    The entire series is offered up with a very solid track which does what it’s supposed to and effectively.



    Special Features:
    The Complete First Season
    [*] Something which I very much like (at least in this case) are Teasers which include “Next On” and “Previously On”… quite helpful for someone who might be new to the show as I am. These are featured on all the sets. GREAT feature.
    [*] Up next are a group of Biographies which includes theme music, and is primarily focused on David Chase, but includes the rest of the cast albeit, abbreviated.
    [*] Two Featurettes are also included (primarily interviews with a few of the actors) but contain little of substantive value. Duration of both is approximately 8 minutes.
    [*] Also included is a Commentary for The pilot episode which features David Chase and Peter Bogdonavich which is a rather meandering commentary although I did come out of it with a modest amount of interesting tidbits.
    [*] Interesting, is an Interview With creator David Chase by Peter Bogdonavich which is perhaps the highlight of the special features which goes on to discuss the direction of the show and the casting as well as a few other tidbits I learned about the show. Duration: 78 minutes.
    [*] And finally there are DVD-ROM and weblink features.


    The Complete Second Season
    [*] There are four Commentaries which are included to compliment four episodes on this set. Included are directors Tim Van Patten “Commendatori”, Henry J. Bronchtein “From Where To Eternity”, Allen Coulter “The Knight In White Satin Armor” and John Patterson for the “Funhouse” episode. Admittedly, I found most of the commentary narrative to be rather mundane. Although compared to the first season, this time four commentaries have been included. More isn’t necessarily better…
    [*] The Real Deal is a short but interesting interview with real life law enforcement officers and various media correspondents who discuss how realistic and authentic the show is. There is also a A Sit Down With The Sopranos which is an HBO promotional interview. Duration: approximately 20 minutes total.
    [*] Easter Eggs… When clicking on the HBO logo on the main menu we’re given a list of DVD Production Credits – just a single text page. On the special feature menu there is also a well figured lady, clicking her takes us to a show trailer.


    The Complete Third Season
    [*] On The Complete Third Season, there are three Audio Commentaries featuring Michael Imperioli “The Telltale Moodzadell”, Steve Buscemi (Director) “Pine Barrens” and David Chase (Series Creator) for the “Amour Fou” episode. Perhaps I’m biased being a Buscemi fan but enjoyed his work here more than the rest – perhaps more than the rest of the commentaries of the entire series thus far.
    [*] There is also a Cast & Crew which are merely text pages listing the players.
    [*] Also included in similar fashion is an Awards list featuring all the awards the members and the show have garnered so far.
    [*] Finally, the last inclusion is a very brief Featurette which includes chitchat and a very pithy behind the scenes look at the show.

    To sum things up on the supplementary front… the special features that are included with these three sets are satisfactory – at best. I felt many of the commentaries and interviews were monotonous and I was left with the feeling their level of participation was merely out of obligation… Keep in mind, I’m painting with a relatively wide brush here folks, some of the discussions were enlightening however. It’s just not a group of features that left me shall we say… sustained. I will give credit where credit is due – I really like the “Next On” and “Previously On” features and I think ALL TV to DVD discs should have them.



    Final Thoughts:
    There is no denying that the show is inexplicably addictive. Honestly, I don’t know if that is just my fondness of the gangster/crime/noir genre poking its head out but I have really found myself hooked (and fast) on these sets. Perhaps, it’s their no holds barred approach where almost anything goes… who knows. But one thing is for sure, the show doesn’t lack for originality. Putting aside the “shock factor” that is undoubtedly the reason why some tune in, the show is extremely well written and acted with a pinch of humanity just to keep us on our toes.

    Seems as though the general consensus of Sopranos fans is that; 1. They love the series, 2. Season Four wasn’t quite as gratifying as the first three, 3. That the sets are overpriced (at least compared to other season sets) and that point does have some validity.

    However, if you can get past the price of these sets, HBO offers up a quality group of Complete Season sets that are guaranteed to leave fans of show entertained for many hours. HBO is certainly to be commended for their efforts… next up from them… Six Feet Under.

    Highly Recommended…!!




    Released: Already Available
     
  2. Justin Bauer

    Justin Bauer Supporting Actor

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    Nice to see you hooked Herb. Now you see why I pestered you for the season 4 review [​IMG]

    I missed the first 2 1/2 seasons before realizing my mistake. I blind bought the first season because I had money to burn and was bored and I never looked back. I rewatched that season 4 times until the second season dvds came out.

    However, I love the 4th season just as much as the first three. I am gearing up to watch all four starting on my X-mas break so I will be all caught up for season 5 in March.
     
  3. Nick Sievers

    Nick Sievers Producer

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    Sure they are overpriced but they are all must haves for my collection. I have no idea why HBO has such high priced TV product.

    I'm a bit of an oddball when it comes to Season 4 it is my second favorite season (First is still my favorite). Many people expressed their disappointment with the season finale, after watching it for the first time a few weeks ago I couldn't believe what I was reading.

    **Spoilers for those who haven't viewed Season 4**
    On a personal level I have never been more moved and sucked in by a Television episode in my life, watching the inevitable seperation of Tony and Carm was a moment I will never forget in TV history. It has been brewing for 4 years but to finally see it happen was a little sad, the acting was brillant for both leads. I have read complaints that after 4 seasons Tony is a more sympathetic character. I couldn't disagree more. While Tony has been fleshed out the most, I find him vile, disgusting and childish. I feel much more sympathetic towards Carm, she has put up with his BS for far too long. How many times did Tony say he has changed and doesn't see other women anymore? I can't wait to see what Season 5 has in store for us. All I know is that i'm on Carmella's side for this one.
     
  4. Bolivar G

    Bolivar G Second Unit

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    I own all 4 seasons and love them all. To me they were worth the money.
    Your not doing yourself a favor just watching a couple episodes from each season [​IMG] You need to watch the whole thing in order![​IMG]
     
  5. Justin Bauer

    Justin Bauer Supporting Actor

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  6. I recently bought S1 & S2 used.

    It's a good thing I didn't pay too much because the video quality in S1 is very poor (it's an unstable shimmerfest).

    By the final few episodes the PQ got much better and continues to be stable in S2.

    Too bad, because I felt the plot elements in S1 were stronger.


    P.S. Sex and the City S1 PQ is also very poor.
     
  7. Justin Bauer

    Justin Bauer Supporting Actor

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    ^^really. I have never seen anything like that in any of my Sopranos sets. I am going to have to go and look for it now.
     
  8. Seth--L

    Seth--L Screenwriter

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    "The Sopranos" has not been shown in syndication and might never be (they would have to do some major cutting - some of the best jokes would be lost like: "What, no fucking ziti?" - chunks of episodes would need to be removed to get it to fit a 1hr time slot with commercials). So they're making up for that never-to-be-made revenue.
     
  9. Nick Sievers

    Nick Sievers Producer

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    Thanks for the clarification, Seth. I don't really know much about how it is shown in the US, over here it is on Free to Air.
     
  10. Seth--L

    Seth--L Screenwriter

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    Nick,

    In the states it's only shown on HBO, so to watch "The Sopranos" you first need to pay for cable TV (or a dish) and then pay for HBO. So you're looking at about $60 a month for cable/dish service with HBO (note that this is a rough figure).
     
  11. R. Kay

    R. Kay Second Unit

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    Great set.

    Outrageously overpriced.

    I've heard all the reasons why. Don't care. Still ridiculous.
     
  12. R. Kay

    R. Kay Second Unit

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  13. Nick Totoro

    Nick Totoro Stunt Coordinator

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    That sounded like a personality trait of Tony's that the writers were trying to either play up or increase in intensity as the seasons went on. Other things to watch are his mannerisms when he eats. He slurps his drinks and stabs at his food with his fork when he eats. Just little things like that.

    Nick
     
  14. MattBu

    MattBu Stunt Coordinator

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    I think the mouth breathing could have been the result of an apnia related to his weight, many hefty people have such a characteristic. I feel as if he's lost weight as the seasons have progressed. Best. Show. Ever.
     

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