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 4)
In the fourth season, Tony and Christopher stake out the retirement party of Detective Lieutenant Barry Haydu, the man who murdered Christopher’s father. Tony gives Christopher Haydu’s address. When Christopher asks why he had been allowed to live all these years, Tony says that he had been valuable, but that he has lived out his worth. Christopher waits inside Haydu’s home and ambushes him as he returns from his party. Haydu vehemently denies murdering Christopher’s father, but struggles to get away, yelling “I’m sorry!” when Christopher goes to shoot him.
New York underboss Johnny Sack becomes enraged after learning Ralph Cifaretto made an inappropriate joke about his wife’s weight. He seeks permission from boss Carmine Lupertazzi to have Ralph clipped, but is denied. Johnny orders the hit anyway. Tony receives the okay from Carmine to hit Johnny Sack for insubordination. Junior Soprano tips Tony to use an old outfit in Providence for the work. After catching his wife eating sweets secretly, instead of following the diet plan, Johnny Sack gives in, and bloodshed is averted.
Tony and Ralph invest in a race horse named Pie-O-My, who wins several races and makes them both a great deal of money. However, when Ralph’s 12-year old son Justin is severely injured when an arrow plunges into his chest, Tony comes to believe Ralph burned Pie-O-My in a stable fire to collect $200,000 in insurance money. Tony confronts Ralph the following morning and Ralph denies setting the fire. The two engage in a violent brawl, culminating in Tony strangling Ralph to death. Tony and Christopher dispose of the body; they bury his head and hands at Mikey Palmice’s father’s farm and throw his body into a quarry.
While he is leaving court, Uncle Junior is hit in the head with a boom mic and falls down several steps. Tony advises him to take advantage of the opportunity, act mentally incompetent, and employ it as a ruse for not continuing the trial. Later, Eugene Pontecorvo intimidates a juror, resulting in a deadlocked jury, forcing the judge to declare a mistrial.
Following the death of Bobby Baccalieri’s wife, Janice pursues a romantic relationship with him. Christopher’s addiction to heroin deepens, prompting his associates and family to organize an intervention, after which he enters a drug rehabilitation center. Adriana befriends a woman who is an undercover FBI agent. When the friendship ends, the woman reveals herself as an FBI agent and tells Adriana the only way to stay out of prison is to become a informant. Adriana agrees and starts sharing information with the FBI.
Carmela, whose relationship with Tony is tense due to financial worries and Tony’s infidelities, develops a mutual infatuation with Furio Giunta. Furio, incapable of breaking his own moral codes and that of the Sicilian mafia, clandestinely returns home to Italy. After Tony’s former mistress calls their home, Carmela throws Tony out. Tony is approached by Johnny Sack with a proposal to murder Carmine, which Tony turns down.
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