I made sure that 2018 was the year I finally made my way through The Sopranos. I finished the final season just before the year ended. It was quite the trek and nicely timed given that The Sopranos Sessions was set to release this month. After finishing the show, I jumped into the book and went on the wild ride all over again.
Matt Zoller Seitz and Alan Sepinwall teamed up on TV (The Book): Two Experts Pick the Greatest American Shows of All Time, a book that I have yet to read due to my lack of having watched Mad Men just yet. (Although, I do own the book.) However, I have been following Sepinwall’s writing for a few years now. The way these two men write about television is something I aspire to accomplish myself one day.
With The Sopranos Sessions, they recapture those feelings that one gets while watching the episodes. You can either watch an episode (or a few) and read the subsequent entry in the book, or you can do what I did and finally watch the show in full and then dive on in and spend hours at a time reading the book. No matter which option you choose, you’ll get that same feeling.
The conversations with David Chase were the most illuminating parts of the book. Compiled into one section, you get hours worth of discussions between the writers and Chase. He’s removed from the show now, but you can tell just how much of his life it took up while he was working on it. If the passion wouldn’t have been there, The Sopranos would have been an inherently different show. I don’t want to give too much away on what was said, but know that they do discuss the final scene of the series and it’s entertaining.
There wasn’t a single point while reading this book where I grew tired of reading an analysis of television episodes. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the writing flowed so well to the point where I didn’t want to put it down (despite having to at times). The show hasn’t been on for years now, and yet the book still feels fresh and relevant. Although, my bias in that matter might come from having just watched the show for the first time, which is a testament to how long the show’s had an impact.
If you’ve enjoyed The Sopranos at any point, this book is a must-read. The writers understand the impact the show had on television in general, how James Gandolfini transcended his role as Tony Soprano, and they had access to not only David Chase, but other members of the cast and crew which gives you a special look at the show. You won’t find something like this anywhere else.