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Greg Kirkman
Byrne Robotics Member


Joined: 12 May 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 15618
Posted: 04 May 2018 at 4:41pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

http://ew.com/article/2000/02/18/david-proval-evil-genius
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Greg Kirkman
Byrne Robotics Member


Joined: 12 May 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 15618
Posted: 06 May 2018 at 9:34pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

“Big Girls Don’t Cry”.


Lots of development in this one. Artie and Charmaine have now involved themselves in Tony’s business by taking Furio on as an employee. The sequence where Furio leans on the tanning salon’s proprietors (with his break-in all filmed in one intense take) is both horrifying and darkly funny.

Meanwhile—surprise, surprise—Richie and Janice are back together. It’s not hard to see why Tony is prone to fits of rage, given the pressures and annoyances he’s facing on all sides. The scene where he...um...handles...the Russian gent on the neighboring boat is also horrifying and hilarious. The genius of Gandolfini’s performance is how he can whiplash from charming, likable guy to violent jerk without ever entirely losing empathy. He’s a killer and a crook who delights in exerting power and control over people (and, as he reveals in this episode, absolute control is what he wants), but he somehow never becomes totally unlikable. Unlike Walter White, who was slowly and deliberately transformed into a monster (and was also driven by a need for control) as a sort of moral Rorschach test for the audience, the problems and pressures that Tony faces make his anger and desire for control relatable, even if we don’t agree with his violent and illegal behavior. 

The subplot with Christopher’s acting classes (and his subsequent abandonment of his dream of being a writer/actor) provides some interesting insights into the demons that drive him. There’s obviously more going on with him than appears on the surface, and I’m sure it’ll be explored.

Perhaps most interestingly, we have a complete reversal of the first season, as Dr. Melfi continues seeing Dr. Peter Bogdanovich, and (as she hereself points out) storms out when he hits an emotional sore spot. The notion that she’d eventually reach out to Tony to resume their sessions has been telegraphed by her past behavior. These two have a strange connection, and she’s obviously willing to fabricate any number of excuses to see him again, and naively thinks that she’s out of danger. Even more interesting is the way in which she tried to resume their sessions in a very formal, professional manner...while now openly and casually discussing Tony’s criminal activities.
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Tony Tower
Byrne Robotics Member


Joined: 25 August 2004
Posts: 638
Posted: 07 May 2018 at 12:09pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

http://ew.com/article/2000/02/18/david-proval-evil-genius

***

Thanks for sharing! If you want to see Mr. Proval playing WAY against Richie Aprile-type, check him out as Richard Schiff's rabbi on THE WEST WING: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDcCHRbix74, WW at the 2:50 mark).


Edited by Tony Tower on 07 May 2018 at 12:11pm
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Greg Kirkman
Byrne Robotics Member


Joined: 12 May 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 15618
Posted: 07 May 2018 at 12:09pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

No problem!
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Greg Kirkman
Byrne Robotics Member


Joined: 12 May 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 15618
Posted: 18 May 2018 at 9:57pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

“The Happy Wanderer”.


I’ve been sick all week, and haven’t been in much condition to watch—much less enjoy—any episodes, ‘till now! Anyhoo...


A great episode, and, from what I’ve read, the first to net Gandolfini an Emmy for Lead Actor in a Drama Series. Deservedly so. Tony is mired in the usual stuff, here: he always tries to keep things on an even keel, but the difficult attitudes and bad decisions of the people around him constantly throw monkeywrenches into the works. 

Case in point: Davey Scatino (played in a memorable guest-turn by the great Robert Patrick), who exploits his friendship with Tony to enter the high-stakes card game (...which includes Frank Sinatra, Jr.!), and, unsurprisingly, ends up in deeper and deeper debt. Is it any wonder that Tony is constantly stressed? Tony is being a wise and good friend when he advises David to stay out of the game, but then finds himself in the position of being owed a heck of a lot of money. And so he ends up having to smack David around and threaten him, which is something he clearly never wanted to do.

Tony Soprano is a killer and a thief, yes, but he does have a code of honor (and considerable street smarts), and would be far less stressed, but for the poor choices of everyone around him. As a result of having to deal with all of this avoidable frustration, he seems positively disinterested at the effect that his acceptance of the SUV as a partial payment has on both the Scatino family...and his own.

We also have Richie again showing his ugly side (as well as Janice whispering poison into his ear), Silvio showing his mean side, and Christopher employing his usual dirty tactics to get a discount when he’s assigned to cater the card game. Good times.

I was also impressed by how the seemingly-unrelated Meadow/Eric Scatino (played by John Hensley, who would go on to star in NIP/TUCK) subplot perfectly dovetailed with the main plot involving Tony, David, and the card game. Very smooth and economical storytelling, there. 
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Vinny Valenti
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Joined: 17 April 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 6588
Posted: 19 May 2018 at 12:57am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

I think i read that the part that Ray Liotta turned down was for Scatino, which I could see given Robert Patrick's similarities to him.
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Greg Kirkman
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Joined: 12 May 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 15618
Posted: 19 May 2018 at 8:54am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

I can totally see Liotta in that part!
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Greg Kirkman
Byrne Robotics Member


Joined: 12 May 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 15618
Posted: 26 May 2018 at 4:03pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

“D-Girl”.


A great episode which provides interesting insights into Christopher and Big Pussy. Chris’ brush with moviemaking (complete with a cocaine-fueled pitch-meeting with Jon Favreau) is quite hilarious. It’s rather shocking to see how hurt he is when his fling with Amy falls apart. It’s clear early on that she’s drawn to his bad-boy machismo, but it could also be argued that she was just being opportunistic, and shaking him down for script ideas. It’s an interesting tug-of-war regarding audience sympathies: Chris comes off as reprehensible for cheating on Adriana (and later taking his anxiety and frustration out on her), but becomes something of a tragic figure when Amy calls it quits, and Tony threatens him for being too distracted from Family business.

Speaking of tragic, Big Pussy’s subplot is heating up. The whole sequence with him struggling to put the wire on in the bathroom (and subsequently getting into a literal fight with his estranged wife) is wrenching. So is the story about how Tony was there for him when his sister died. The final shot of the episode, with Pussy sobbing over his betrayal of his closest friend, is quite moving.

Of course, the icing on the cake of this episode is AJ’s existential angst and subsequent rebellion. Some big laughs come of it, particularly during his discussion of philosophy with Tony and Carmella. 
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Marc M. Woolman
Byrne Robotics Member


Joined: 17 April 2008
Location: Canada
Posts: 2027
Posted: 26 May 2018 at 6:39pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

So glad you're back at this Greg! I
enjoy reading your insights into my
all-time favourite show.

I loved all the jokes at Jon
Favreau's expense in the episode!
The writers (or somebody) was having
a little fun with him.
His voice cracking when Chris puts
him in a headlock, lmfao.

Edited by Marc M. Woolman on 26 May 2018 at 6:39pm
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Greg Kirkman
Byrne Robotics Member


Joined: 12 May 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 15618
Posted: 27 May 2018 at 9:39am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

Slow and steady wins the race. I haven’t had the time to watch episodes as frequently as I’d like, but I intend to get in at least a few a week.


And all of Favreau’s scenes were gold.  I think my favorite bit was when he subtly tried to wipe his fingerprints off of Chris’ gun.

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Greg Kirkman
Byrne Robotics Member


Joined: 12 May 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 15618
Posted: 08 June 2018 at 11:32pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

“Full Leather Jacket”.


A really strong episode. Carmella’s subplot is interesting, as she goes to great lengths to keep Meadow from going to Berkeley. Just being the wife of Tony Soprano allows her to implicitly threaten people, although she’d surely never act on such threats. Edie Falco gets to play a wide range of emotions in this episode, and she plays them well. 

Everything with Richie in this episode is gold. His reluctantly agreement to send his goons to make Beansie’s house handicap-accessible is hilarious. So is his priceless reaction when he sees that Tony has given the titular (and hideous) leather jacket to the Sopranos’ maid’s husband. 

I had a feeling that Matt and Sean would become more prominent, sooner or later. Their idiocy and ineptitude is very entertaining, but their bungled assassination attempt on the newly-engaged Christopher in this episode is a real shocker of an ending. Just jaw-dropping.
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Greg Kirkman
Byrne Robotics Member


Joined: 12 May 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 15618
Posted: 10 June 2018 at 11:21pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

“From Where To Eternity”.


A great episode, written by none other than Michael Imperioli. The story provides a lot of insight into several of the principal characters as Christopher’s condition forces them to contemplate theology and the consequences of their actions.

Tony’s chat with Dr. Melfi crystallizes what I’ve suspected from the start: He’s so focused on honor among thieves, loyalty, and the traditional mob code because he sees himself as a solidier. He rationalizes his evil acts as those of a soldier working for the good of his Family business. There’s also a fierce streak of pride in his Italian heritage which motivates him. He firmly believes that he and Christopher aren’t evil enough to be denied entry into Heaven. Gandolfini’s perfomance is subtle enough to show that, underneath all of that righteous anger, Tony probably doesn’t believe in his own rationalization. Still, he sanitizes Chris’ vision when describing it to Carmella, and insists that only the worst of the worst go to Hell. These are clearly the rationalizations of a man who knows he’s evil, but can’t quite come to terms with it.

Paulie, on the other hand, is totally (and humorously) freaked out by Chris’ vision, and was previously under the impression that donating to his church would get him through the pearly gates. The sequence where he visits the psychic (who is quite accurate in his detailing of Paulie’s murders) is a lot of fun. 

Then there’s Carmella, who prays for Chris’ recovery, and naively believes that acknowledging the consequences of Tony’s evil will somehow protect her family from them. It’s also indicated that Tony’s Brazilian mistress has given birth to his illegitimate child, which is quite a shocker. I find myself wondering if this thread will ever be followed up on, later in the series’ run. 

And, of course, after acknowledging his less-than-convincing belief that he’s bound for Heaven, Tony and Big Pussy brutally murder Matt for the attempt on Christopher’s life. It’s a tense and violent sequence which underscores the fact that Tony Soprano is man who is driven by his passions, and is clinging onto his flimsy justifications so as to excuse his behavior. Traditional mob code may demand an eye for an eye, but Matt’s murder is purely a rage-fueled act of revenge. 

Two-thirds of the way through the second season, and we’ve taken a turn toward introspection and pure drama, rather than the comedy-drama tone of previous episodes. There are still chuckles, to be sure, but I can sense a distinctive shifting of gears that’s occurred. I guess we’ll see if it’s temporary or not!
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