General TV stuff

The Sopranos

Does Tony Soprano get shot every week?

There’re only about ten dramatic plots available to writers, it is said. If that’s the case, the writers of The Sopranos must’ve exhausted their quota some time ago. The show’s back for a new series, and very welcome it is too, because it’s still good. In the first episode, Mafiosi and all-round family man, Tony Soprano, gets shot.

Now, I’m not a regular watcher of The Sopranos, but doesn’t he get shot at least once every season? And always makes a full recovery? This time he takes the wound in his stomach. I’m tempted to make some joke about the protective qualities of his vast gut, but really, it’s all been said before.

How about the show self-consciously acknowledges its limited repertoire, and Tony simply gets shot every episode? There would be no reference made to the previous week’s shooting at the start of the next one, of course. It could be a comforting, post-modern little recurring motif.

The shootings and all-round brutality notwithstanding, The Sopranos sometimes elicits a very peculiar feeling in me. There’s a very old-worldy comfort in the characters and their situations, which sounds strange until you take a look at the cast. It’s like some sort of reunion for old American Italian actors.

Frank Vincent, for example, the vaguely comedic mafia don from the Grand Theft Auto games, is there, and it’s slightly disconcerting to see him without the bald head and moustache of the games. Then there’s a whole dynasty of close-knit families.

It’s reminiscent of Moonstruck, the thoroughly charming Cher/Nicholas Cage romantic comedy which captures the Italian-American milieu in much the same way as The Sopranos, albeit with far less violent fervour. In fact, it’s easy to forget that this isn’t the world of Moonstruck.

Or is it…? You keep expecting Tony, halfway through inflicting a particularly unpleasant gangland mutilation upon an enemy, to suddenly drop to his knees and gaze longingly into the moon, in recognition of the supernatural, transformative powers therein.

On the other hand, Nicholas Cage could reprise his role as a partially-disabled romantic fool, but use his prosthetic hand as an aid to disembowelling rival gang members, in-between supplicating for the return of the values of the Age of Aquarius.

Perhaps there could be some kind of clearly-identified in-text trigger, signalling a sudden break from the violence of the show into the world of fairytale romance. On hearing the Cher song ‘I Believe’, for example, Tony might immediately break into a heart-warming, celebratory dance, signifying the tonal shift in which mafia drama and rom-com’s are finally reconciled.

It’s all so very postmodern and witty, you see. Perfect for British TV. I might give the BBC a call. In fact, don’t bother: Russell T Davies has already pitched it.

Noel Brown