Posted Thursday 1/10/19 at 6:47PM EST
The Sopranos at 20: Television learned the wrong lessons from the show responsible for Prestige TV
Source: The New Republic
The joy of The Sopranos, which premiered 20 years ago today on Jan. 10, 1999, "lies in its script, so packed with symbolism and clever half-jokes, and the way that its cast executed that script," says Josephine Livingstone. "What is there even left to say?" she adds. "From the beginning, everybody knew that The Sopranos was to be a watershed. There would be before, and there would be after. In every commemorative article about the show, the author inevitably cites the list of prestige shows that followed The Sopranos and that adopted its central conceit of a flawed antihero—Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Deadwood, and so on." Yet the promises of Prestige TV have been wasted in our current glut of TV shows. "Instead, we’re in a weird new era in which everything on TV looks so good that you can’t tell whether it’s prestige or not," she says. "Call it post-prestige television. By this I mean that every show is cut beautifully, every soundtrack is great, and—crucially—every main character is rounded out by psychological flaws that make them seem human." The writing on contemporary television, she adds, is "lusciously easy on the eye, always. But is the writing as good?" Even the best-scripted shows of the past year -- from Killing Eve to The Americans to Atlanta -- can't match The Sopranos in its understated wit and its high-stakes investment in human relationships, she says. "Part of it stems from the way The Sopranos was received and defined by critics," says Livingstone "In its early years, much commentary focused on the show’s brutal depiction of women, which in turn prompted defenses of its sophisticated portrayal of women complicit in evil. But it’s the male critics who have profited the most from the Sopranos-commentary boom—the men who were fascinated by the whole 'flawed antihero' concept and pumped its meaning up to outsize levels." She adds that the legacy of The Sopranos TV criticism is "of a genre almost exclusively manufactured by men, for a male readership, about the nerdy nitty-gritty of a TV show about masculinity. This has contributed, I think, to a new culture of television-making dominated by psychological portraiture, usually focused on men. It has also led to hyper-lush production, at the expense of scriptwriting, simply because it’s easier to throw money at a show than to write a good one. This is the danger of allowing superfans to define the meaning of a television show."
- David Chase sees The Sopranos' influence in TV news coverage of President Trump: When The New York Times asked what Sopranos influences does he see when watching TV, Chase responded: "The use of a deeply flawed hero and his problems. And when news shows talk about Trump, for example, they’ll say it’s like The Sopranos. People, including your own paper, use The Sopranos as an example of crookedness and culpability. I don’t watch a lot of series television. Unfortunately what I do is spend my time watching CNN, Fox and MSNBC. So I get good and depressed, and angry." Chase, who thinks A.J. Soprano might be working for Trump in the White House, also thinks Tony Soprano wouldn't buy Trump's (expletive).
- What’s most impressive about The Sopranos is how well it has held up after 20 years
- A rebuttal to complaints that The Sopranos ran too long with 86 episodes
- Chase recalls how The Sopranos could've ended up as a Fox drama starring Anthony LaPaglia
- The Sopranos stars reunited Wednesday night: Edie Falco recalls saying "I don’t know what the hell we just did" after Season 2 renewal
- Dominic "Uncle Junior" Chianese, now 87, says: "It's a very humane thing for HBO to do, bringing us together. We really liked each other"
- Michael Imperioli is blown away that a whole new generation of viewers are just starting to watch The Sopranos
- Here are the faces of The Sopranos 20 years later
- HBO has been handing out Sopranos nicknames to everybody and everything from Olive Garden to Stephen Colbert and Lin-Manuel Miranda -- read all the responses
- Read an excerpt from The Sopranos Sessions
- 11 writers share the moments from The Sopranos they think about a lot
- Carmela Soprano was an unsung style icon
- Adriana's brutal death was the "whack that changed everything"
- The Sopranos succeeded in making New Jersey cool
- HBO sent out baked ziti in honor of the 20th anniversary
- The West Wing, The Wire, The Shield and The Leftovers: Here are the 20 best dramas since The Sopranos premiered
- The Sopranos is nearly perfect except for one Season 1 flaw
- Check out how The Sopranos locations look like 20 years later
- The ultimate debate: Does Tony Soprano live or die at the end?
Brooklyn Nine-Nine on NBC is just as goofy, warm, fast-moving, and funny as ever
Judging from the first two episodes of Season 6, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has made a successful transition after being canceled at Fox. "Even better, the new season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine seems to be doing exactly what any show in its sixth season should do," says Kathryn VanArendonk. "It’s not reinventing itself whole cloth, but it does look like the writers asked themselves how best to use this gift of more time, and what else Brooklyn Nine-Nine might have to say about the world right now." She notes that Brooklyn Nine-Nine is "more out loud about what it means to be a cop show in 2019. It’s a noticeable choice for the show, which could so easily have pivoted straight toward a greatest-hits plan for this sixth season. Thank goodness it didn’t."
- Brooklyn Nine-Nine is starting to explicitly address the elephant in the room: that it's a cop show when police brutality is a hot-button issue
- Brooklyn Nine-Nine makes the transition without skipping a beat
- This could be the most complex and emotional season yet
- How will Brooklyn Nine-Nine do in its new timeslot on NBC?
- Here are 21 Brooklyn Nine-Nine facts from Dan Goor's Reddit AMA
- Every Brooklyn Nine-Nine episode, ranked
- Although NBC allows for "bleeping and blurring," unlike Fox, Brooklyn Nine-Nine will stay a family-friendly show
CBS schedules a shorter, four-hour Super Bowl pregame show that might include a Trump interview
Source: The Washington Post
President Trump sat down for a Super Bowl pregame interview on Fox in 2017, but didn't agree to an interview with NBC last year. CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus said Thursday there have been talks for an interview with Trump during the pregame show McManus also announced this year's pregame show will run four hours, which is one hour less than NBC's five-hour pregame show last year. “I promise you it will be the fastest-moving pregame show you’ve ever seen,” he said.
Whiskey Cavalier to premiere after the Oscars
ABC will air a special "sneak preview" of the new Scott Foley-Lauren Cohan drama on Sunday, Feb. 24, three days before its formal premiere on Feb. 27. The network is hoping that a shortened three-hour telecast will help deliver viewers to Whiskey Cavalier.
Netflix orders Shadow and Bone fantasy series
Bird Box screenwriter Eric Heisserer will adapt two of Leigh Bardugo's bestselling fantasy book series, the Shadow and Bone trilogy and the two Six of Crows novels, into a single series. Here's Netflix's logline for Shadow and Bone: “In a world cleaved in two by a massive barrier of perpetual darkness, where unnatural creatures feast on human flesh, a young soldier uncovers a power that might finally unite her country. But as she struggles to hone her power, dangerous forces plot against her. Thugs, thieves, assassins and saints are at war now, and it will take more than magic to survive.”
Netflix won't film a TV show in North Carolina due to its anti-LGBTQ law
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
Instead, the North Carolina-set coming-of-age drama OBX will be filmed in South Carolina due to the North Carolina bill known as "the bathroom bill." "This tiny law is costing this town 70 good, clean, pension-paying jobs and also sending a message to those people who can bring these jobs and more that North Carolina still doesn’t get it," Jonas Pete, OBX's creator and a North Carolina native, told a local newspaper.
Snoop Dogg Presents The Joker’s Wild and Drop the Mic are moving to TNT, but will encore on TBS
Moving both shows to TNT is an attempt to boost ratings by pairing them with TNT's sports audience.
Mr. Mercedes star Breeda Wool joins GLOW
Wool will recur in Season 3 as a potential wrestler.
Shameless teases its Season 9 return
The Showtime series resumes Season 9 with Emmy Rossum's final episodes on Jan. 20.
CBS' Fam is what happens when a great cast meets a tired sitcom premise
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
"Like CBS' fall sitcom slate, Fam boasts an almost outrageously good cast, one plugged into the most hollow and familiar of premises and then fed with a broad assortment of reheated multi-generational punchlines," says Daniel Fienberg. "There is a great comedy that could be made with this cast and, despite the game efforts of said cast through the first three episodes, Fam is not that comedy." He adds that the "show already is a hodgepodge of many of the greatest not-hits of recent CBS sitcoms past." The Vampire Diaries alum Nina Dobrev, he says, is left with the hefty lifting. "Given that Dobrev's background includes teen soaps and supernatural soaps, it isn't at all an unfair attempt to play to her strengths," he says. "She isn't bad at the brief serious stuff, even if it never feels earned within the show, and she brings a high energy when the comedy requires it."
Watch The Punisher's official Season 2 trailer
Marvel's Netflix series drops its second season on Jan. 18.
- The Sopranos at 20: Television learned the wrong lessons from the show responsible for Prestige TV