The Sopranos is an American television drama series created by David Chase that revolves around the New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) and the difficulties he faces as he tries to balance the conflicting requirements of his home life and the criminal organization he heads. The series also features Tony’s family members and Mafia associates in prominent roles and storylines, most notably his wife Carmela (Edie Falco) and cousin and protégé Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli). A central theme is his professional relationship with his psychiatrist, Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco).
The series premiered on the premium cable network HBO in the United States on January 10, 1999, and ended its original run of six seasons and 86 episodes on June 10, 2007. The series then went through syndication and has been broadcast on A&E in the United States and internationally. The Sopranos was produced by HBO, Chase Films and Brad Grey Television. It was primarily filmed at Silvercup Studios, New York City and on location in New Jersey. The executive producers throughout the show’s run were Chase, Brad Grey, Robin Green, Mitchell Burgess, Ilene S. Landress, Terence Winter, and Matthew Weiner. Chase also served as showrunner and head writer.
The Sopranos, in its time was considered the most financially successful series in the history of cable television, and has been called the greatest television series of all time.
The series is noted for its high level of quality in every aspect of production and is particularly recognized for its writing, its cinematic style, and the performances of its lead actors. The show is credited with bringing a greater level of artistry to the television medium and paving the way for many successful drama series that followed. It also won a multitude of awards, including twenty-one Emmys and five Golden Globes.
A staple of 2000s American popular culture, the series has been the subject of much critical analysis, controversy, and parody, and has spawned books, a video game, high-charting soundtrack albums, and a large amount of assorted merchandise.
Several members of the show’s cast and crew who were previously largely unknown to the public have had successful careers after The Sopranos.
PLOT SUMMARY (Season 3)
The third season marks the return of the ambitious Ralph Cifaretto following the “disappearance” of Aprile Crew capo Richie Aprile after spending an extended period of leisure time in Miami, Florida. He pursues a relationship with Rosalie Aprile, the widow of the deceased mobster Jackie Aprile, Sr., former capo of the Aprile Crew which bears his name. With Richie assumed to have joined the Witness Protection Program, Ralph unofficially usurps control over the Aprile Crew, proving to be an exceptionally dexterous earner for the crew. While Ralph’s competitive merit would seemingly have him next in line to ascend to capo, his insubordination inclines Tony not to promote him and instead gives the promotion to the less qualified – however docile – Gigi Cestone, causing much resentment and tension between him and Ralph.
Livia dies of a stroke.
Jackie Aprile, Jr. becomes involved with Meadow and then descends into an increasingly reckless life of drugs and crime. Tony initially attempts to act as a mentor to Jackie but becomes increasingly impatient with his escalating misbehavior, particularly as Jackie’s relationship with Meadow begins to become serious. Inspired by a story from Ralph about how Tony, Jackie’s father, and Silvio Dante got made, Jackie and his friends Dino Zerilli and Carlo Renzi make a similar move and attempt to rob Eugene Pontecorvo’s Saturday night card game, so they can gain recognition from the family, possibly getting them respected and made as well. The plan takes a turn for the worse when Jackie panics due to the heckling of the card dealer “Sunshine” and shoots him to death. Dino and Carlo are killed during the robbery, but Jackie manages to escape. Tony decides to give Ralph the decision regarding Jackie Jr.’s punishment. Despite his role as a surrogate father, Ralph ultimately decides to have Jackie Jr. killed.
Ralph ultimately crosses the line when, in a cocaine-induced rage, he gets into a confrontation with one of his girlfriends, Tracee, and beats her to death. She was a ‘hooer’, and may have been pregnant with his child at the time. This infuriates Tony to the point where he violates traditional Mafia code by striking him repeatedly in front of the entire family. Bad blood temporarily surfaces between the two but is shortly resolved after Gigi Cestone dies of an aneurysm on the toilet, thereby forcing Tony to reluctantly promote Ralph to capo.
Tony begins an affair with Gloria Trillo, who is also a patient of Dr. Melfi. Their relationship is brief and tumultuous. Meanwhile, Dr. Melfi is raped. Junior is diagnosed with stomach cancer; following chemotherapy, it goes into remission. A.J. continues to get in trouble at school, despite success on the football team. This culminates in his expulsion.
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