While my job application to the Android’s Dungeon in Springfield must have gotten lost in the mail, I can still safely say that “The Sopranos” fourth season is, without a doubt, the worst season of “The Sopranos” ever. I guess that may not be saying that much, considering it was, well, only the fourth season, but still… compared to the legendary status of the first three, the fourth fell woefully short.
The anticipation for this season was almost off the charts. Sure they took a year off, and David Chase threatened to end the show altogether, but it would all be worth it, right? All those agonizing months where the entire future of the show lay on the brink? I mean, this is “THE Sopranos”. The best show on television. Right?
Well, it was. This fourth season of “The Sopranos” was some of the most boring, pointless television I have ever seen.
Let’s break down the series season by season: season one was an introduction to the mob boss of north Jersey who has reoccurring dreams of ducks and passes out at the sight of any raw meat.
Season two, the best season thus far, was all about the struggle of Tony’s mob family with the realization that they’d have to whack one of their own, “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero.
Season three was about the decay of Tony’s personal life, and of the fall of Jackie Aprile Jr., who Tony eventually had to have killed.
Season four, the most recent season, was about… hmm… lemme think here… Uh, if I had to pick one thing, I guess the fourth season was mostly about Tony and Carmela’s financial planning. Which one of these doesn’t seem to fit?
The biggest problem for Season Four was the fact that it teased the audience with some really interesting and relevant stuff, and then spent way too much time on the completely inane. Case in point: Christopher’s entrance into rehab. His growing dependency on drugs was toyed with for about 10 episodes, so it was nice to see the pay off when he was entered into rehab by Tony. And then… nothing happens for a while… and then he’s back and totally sober. No withdrawal, no attempts at escaping from rehab (which I think would have been hysterical), no updates of how rehab is going for Chrissy at all. No, instead, David Chase decided to focus on the social life of the mother of Paulie Walnuts. Now, I’ve never won an Emmy before, and I’m starting to cope with the fact that I probably never will, but to me, that’s just bad storytelling.
There were many other plot lines this season that were, from the moment they were introduced, obviously not going to pay off: From Adriana’s communication with the FBI, which went from being a life-changing situation for Adriana in the first few episodes of the season to just a three minute chat in a parking lot once a week, to the trial of Uncle Junior (anyone besides me actually remember what he was on trial for?), and even, God help me, the love affair between Bobby “Bacala” and Janice Soprano.
But the worst mistake the writing crew of “The Sopranos” made was ruining several of their most interesting characters. Maybe it was just me, but I liked Furio much better as the most bad-ass, hardcore mobster on the face of the planet. Now, he’s just poor, sappy Furio with a broken heart and a plane ticket back to Italy. Maybe he can get a job on “The Young and the Restless” for next season. And Meadow? She got less air time this year than Livia Soprano, who’s been dead for two years.
There were definitely some high points this season, though – times when I said to myself, “This is why I love ‘The Sopranos'”. The murder of Ralph Cifaretto was completely shocking, especially when there were much more obvious times for him to get whacked. Paulie Walnuts murdering his mother’s friend from the retirement home was another first-class moment, when the viewers were briefly reminded that they were watching a show about mobsters and not a rerun of “Thirty-Something”.
The real stand-out character this year though, obviously, was Carmela. Edie Falco did a spectacular job of conveying Carmela’s first subtle feelings for Furio, her eventual depression when he left her, and her rage during the season finale when she finally had enough of Tony’s unfaithfulness. But… this is a show about mobsters, right? I mean, at least partially, correct? Then why was this season more boring than my own personal life, a fact which I thought was physically impossible?
Maybe I’m just being too harsh. Maybe I just I love “The Sopranos” so much that anything less than perfection was just too much of a disappointment. Actually, that’s pretty much what’s going on here.
I wanted so much to happen this season. I wanted the war between New York and New Jersey to finally come to pass. I wanted to see Adriana really struggle with her communication with the FBI. Most of all, I wanted to see what it’s like to run both a mob family and a literal one at the same time. This is supposed to be what “The Sopranos” is all about; to see old-school mobster Tony Soprano have to deal with the post-modern reality of having to get psycological counseling. That’s the problem with the fourth season of “The Sopranos”, they lost their focus. With it, they lost the real drive of the show, and what was left was a collossal dissapointment.
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