Monday, April 25, 2011

The Sopranos, season 2, proper.

The Sopranos, season 2, 2000.

Bluntly, season 2 emanates anger, hostility, and violence from the word go, and a lot of it is difficult to stomach; in other words, this is the season for viewers who found the first season a bit too warm and fuzzy (this ain't your mama's Sopranos). Everyone's got issues with everyone.

New Characters:

Janice Soprano (Aida Turturro), Tony's older sister comes for a visit. Having moved to Seattle and changed her name to Pavarti, Janice seems to shun everything about her traditional Italian upbringing . . . until she gets mad about something and The Soprano in her surfaces (with a vengeance).

Richie Aprile (David Proval) returns from a ten-year prison stint, also with a vengeance, almost like a soft-spoken, psychotic version of Mean Streets' Johnny Boy (which Proval actually co-starred in with Keitel and DeNiro). This guy really seems to have a beef with everything and exists mostly to create trouble for Tony, not the least of it being carrying on with Janice, but his story is a good one. Doesn't end well, though.

Furio Giunta
(Frederico Castelluccio), a soldier from an Italian crew in Naples joins The Soprano crew and proves himself adept at unsavory, violent jobs as well as mozzarella-making for Artie Bucco. One of the season's best scenes involves Furio's first "assignment" at a tanning booth/prostitution operation: As he pushes his way through the doors and clients to get to the owner who's been holding out, Tony waits outside in the car, delighted by the screams and gunshots heard from inside the building.

In terms of style, most of the best shots of the second season really revolve around Junior; his wheelchair-cam as they roll him down the hall in the hospital, the stubborn pride and posture he takes when he finally comes to Tony with the news that Richie is planning to have him killed, and that quick, crazy shot of him peeking out the window of the deserted building on the shore during Tony's dream? Creepy!

And of course, the montage to Sinatra's "It Was a Very Good Year" during the first episode (link below), where everyone's daily events just sort of fade into each other in randomness---Livia, alone during her physical therapy, Paulie Walnuts, enjoying a well-implanted dancer from The Bing, and Carmella, serving endless pans of pasta to the family (each time in a more dazzling set of triple-necklaces and pastel linen pants).

The series' second season is definitely darker and less joyful than the first: Tony abandons his therapy with Dr. Melfi, and his behavior, panic attacks, and general disposition all suffer horribly as a result.  He finds that being Boss is incredibly stressful. Disagreements among Tony's and Junior's crews (mostly facilitated by Richie Aprile) create tension and aggression that lead to repeated acts of violence. Because of this, Tony is advised by his attorney to spend time at his legitimate businesses for a while, which further depresses him. My favorite scene comes at the end of "House Arrest," when Tony finally comes back to Satriale's after days spent at Barone Sanitation. While he's welcomed back adoringly by his crew, he also stands outside on the sidewalk and banters with Agent Harris (of the FBI), who just dropped by to introduce his new partner. Having a conversation about a sudden car accident with the feds that are following him is comfortable and normal, even, because he's back on his turf again, where things make sense. I liked that.

(clips have violence, profanity, and brief sexual content, FYI).