Wednesday, 26 August 2009

New Jersey, Manchester and possibly the best TV series ever made

(I didn't mean to post again so soon after that long post but one of the links on here is only live till Sunday.)

So, we finished watching 'The Sopranos' last night. Some of you may remember that I got series one for my birthday in January and Mark and I have been watching it avidly ever since (dvd box set after dvd box set...like a sickness). I've hardly watched anything else all year and really, who needs to when it is quite simply some of the best TV ever made. I'm even glad I watched it in this concentrated way rather than over the seven years or so that it was broadcast (1999-2007) as it really feels like I have been in New Jersey for the past seven months or so. It's been a bit weird (and nasty a lot of the time) but it's been brilliant too and popular culture at its very, very best. Thanks must go to Ken Armstrong because I think it was him who persuaded me to give it a go. I had never fancied the series when it was on (another mafia story – who could face that?) but of course it's a lot, lot more than just another mafia story. Like much of the best fiction or creative work...it's about everything. Just everything.

I'm not going to go on about it anymore just now (though I'm sure I'll come back to it) but I did just want to say how amazing it was that they featured a poet (and a British poet...a poet from't north of England, no less) on the soundtrack at the end of one of the episodes. How exciting...I know I'm a bit late with this but still...how exciting to have a poem be part of a fantastic series like that! I hope the poet in question was suitably excited too (though I was probably excited enough for all of us). You can see some of that ending here (though please don't look if you don't like swearing – it is FULL of it). You can also hear more of the John Cooper Clarke poem here (again more swearing...that's kind of the point of it...) and suitably enough there's a radio documentary about JCC (and punk and Manchester) online this week (till Sunday – it's here). He's very good on fame...amongst other things.

But for now it's goodbye to the family Soprano (and all the other many, many characters from the series).



I'm spoiled forever now. I don't think I can ever watch TV again. Really.

x

26 comments:

Propellerhead said...

Re: "I'm spoiled forever now. I don't think I can ever watch TV again. Really."

That's why we have The Wire

Rachel Fox said...

I need at least 6 months to recover first. Maybe a year.
x

swiss said...

yes you can. it's called the wire

Titus said...

In full agreement, I fancied Tony something rotten and you didn't mention the most excellent theme tune by the most excellent British Band, Alabama 3. Who are playing Glasgow in the autumn, and who are fantabulous live. I love them.
Sorry for your loss, but The Ooglies, just started on CBBC, may ease the pain.

Rachel Fenton said...

Britain is so talented, ahem, and I will have to trawl the dvd shop to find out what the fuss is because I haven't had a telly for years! Hurrah for laptops!

hope said...

I never watched one episode... possibly because the sis-in-law got me hooked on "LOST". Almost the same way: first 2 seasons on DVD so we'd be up-to-date before the 3rd season aired.

So I will be able to listen to you go on and on about it....because it will be fresh to me. :) Plus, I heard my favorite actor, David Strathairn, [he of paternal Scottish parentage]played a small role...maybe toward the end? Something to do with Tony's wife is all I can recall.

The true part of being spoiled is watching WITHOUT COMMERCIAL INTERRUPTION!

Totalfeckineejit said...

Can't believe JCC featured on The Sopranos!!?? Must check out your links right away.Saw him support Elvis Costello or somebody at The Roundhouse or somewhere in a previous lifetime.Thanks Rachel!

BERNIE EVARISTO said...

We watched The Sopranos for six months of last year and absolutely loved it too. The psychological portrayal of the characters is amazing and Tony Soprano is a character worthy of Shakespeare. This year we watched The Wire box set - twice! It's even more amazing for its investigating of human behaviour, power and corruption, I think.

Rachel Fox said...

Several of you saying how good 'the Wire' is...I probably will watch it some time...but not right now! I need a break from TV for a while. It gets in your head so.

Titus - yes fancying Tony...it's so wrong but I know what you mean! Never has a thug with a big belly in a nasty vest seemed so... viable. It was such a sexual series in many ways. Very bestial. Anyway..it's far too early in the morning to get into this...Some of the girls weren't bad either.

I remember Alabama 3 records coming out when I was still a DJ. Nothing grabbed me back then particularly but that theme tune was certainly a great choice. Must have made them some good money for them too. The music for the whole series was brilliant - such a variety.

RF - yes I had some telly-free years. It's a good thing to do. I really don't watch much by most people's standards even now...that's why the Sopranos was such a surprise. I'd kind of given up on TV (so much of it is so bad).

Hope - 'Lost' didn't do it for me at all. And I like the lead actor (I was quite a 'Party of Five' fan many, many years ago...). And yes, that actor you mention played a teacher character in a couple of episodes. And yes again...watching without the ads is a big part of enjoying dvd TV. We always mute the ads on TV anyway but it does keep the drama going more intensely when you don't have to.

TFE - yes, I couldn't believe it when I heard that voice on the Sopranos! It's in the last series...but you should watch them all. I think you will really like the series.

And BE - it is totally Shakespearean...easily as many deaths/as much blood as Macbeth, all the mental anguish of Hamlet, much better humour (well more modern...) than all the comedies...and all that great food to boot. I couldn't fault it in any way and that really doesn't happen often with TV. It's better than most films being made just now too. The scripts were too die for. It's really hard to be unpredictable with any screen writing but they managed it time after time after time. I was shocked. Thrilled.

x

Jim Murdoch said...

Christopher Eccleston's version in the film Strumpet is superb. Check it out. The whole film is worth watching too. It's by Danny Boyle, the guy who did Slumdog Millionaire.

As for TV, check out In Treatment. I can't understand why it's not been shown in the UK but it is absolutely captivating viewing watching these half-hour sessions between a psychotherapist and his patients. We're nearly through the second season which is good but the first was fantastic.

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks for those Jim. I had seen the Eccleston but not the series you talk about. Will keep an eye out for it.
x

Ken Armstrong said...

Thanks for the thanks. I feel very important now. :) I *love* the series as you do - we must discuss the ending some time.

Trish and I are now watching 'The Wire' as BBC2 have been showing it all nightly. We are in series 4 of 5 and liking it a lot. It's no 'Sopranos' but it is damn good American drama.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Dare i say it Rachel? Yes - I will bite the bullet and come clean - I have never watched or heard of The Sopranos. Sorry

Rachel Fox said...

I was desperate to see how they ended it Ken and I think they did a really good job with it. My heart was pounding in the final few minutes! Excellent stuff.

And Weaver...I had not watched it till this year either. I had seen the ads (was it on C4 in the UK?) and just thought 'no, no, no'. And now I say 'yes, yes, yes!'

We have been passing the dvds onto friends but I have not passed them on to, say, my Mum (who is a fair bit older than you) because I think, though she would like some of it (the good drama), there are aspects she definitely would not like (and certainly would not like week after week after week). There is a lot of sex, nudity, violence, cruelty and constant bad language...but then it is about a mob leader...so that does all pretty much go with the territory. There is also a lot of loud music and sometimes the New Jersey accent and slang can be hard to follow. It is brilliant (the dialogue, the characters, the acting, the costumes, the detail, the storylines...) but it is not for everybody!

x

Rachel Fox said...

And of course biting the bullet is a very good saying to use here! It's full of bullets.
x

Red Bird said...

Alas- we have not had TV for over 5 years now- nada, nothing. No cable, nothing. I think I've missed out on quite a lot- although I do like hearing about what others think of the shows. And yes, you can get practically everything on DVD now... so I've got that at least.
That's the way I found out about Alias- I LOVED that show...
;)
x

Rachel Fox said...

My Mark watches Alias too. I don't know how he manages to watch all these shows...well, I do...on the laptop on the train to work.
x

Uiscebot said...

The sopranos was amazing. That ending too, loved every bit on it.

That poem is brilliant also - I'm gonna stick it up on my bloggypoos. Hope you don't mind - I'll give ya a lil ol plug!

Rachel Fox said...

You're very welcome. Spread the joy. Or spread something anyway...
x

deemikay said...

It's been a long time since I had the patience for American mega-series... the irony is, I suppose, that they call them seasons, but they last at least two Autumn and Winter might be the best to watch them in, though. :)

I remember, however, watching the last part of the last episode of the last series of the Sporanos on youtube after reading about it being "controversial". I thought it seemed a perfect way to end.

deemikay said...

And anyway, I'd vote for Groundforce being the best TV seri___ wait, I forgot - I'm lying. :)

Rachel Fox said...

Me too - last thing I watched regularly was 'Frasier' - but 'Sopranos' really is worth the time spent. The writing alone is a pleasure (it is fantastic) but there are lots of other reasons to watch it too. It tackles huge great issues about good and evil, the characters are beautifully complex, the music is divine. Lots of naked ladies too.
x

Rachel Fox said...

The 'me too' was in answer to your first comment. Then you snuck in with the second...
x

deemikay said...

Naked ladies you say...?

Rachel Fox said...

Oh yes - lots of them.

I almost wrote a whole post about the women characters in the Sopranos because whilst there are a lot of plastic strippers and prostitutes in the background the series is actually really, really good for women in many ways. There are several really good parts for actresses (complex, fascinating characters...just as involved in the good and evil battle as the men). It's Tony you see on all the posters but the series is just as much about his wife Carmela and his shrink Dr Melfi. And I loved Adriana too. And Meadow. I don't go superfan very often but when I do...I just can't stop!

x

Rachel Fox said...

And somehow I managed to miss any news about the ending so I really didn't know what was going to happen in the last show. It did make it very exciting. So many supposedly 'exciting' movies and TV leave me cold (or make me laugh because they're so predictable) but not this time. I would have sold my soul to know the ending (not that there's much left...).
x