James Gandolfini Is Dead at 51

On a day separating historic basketball games played by the Spurs and Heat, tragedy struck the arts. James Gandolfini — Tony Soprano — died of an apparent heart attack while traveling in Italy.  There are film and television critics that can eulogize “Tony” far better than I, but this event is worth acknowledging here.  All sorts of indeterminable debates have played out between The Sopranos, The Wire, and a growing list of premium tv series’ that have pushed the entire genre ahead of film in the two thousand teens.

There is no doubt when the transition began.  It began with Gandolfini’s Tony Soprano, the most lovable degenerate that any of us has ever [not] known.  [QUASI-SPOILER ALERT] — If you watched The Sopranos, then you know what I mean when I say that the power in Tony’s character was that — by series end — you absolutely cared about his fate even though you had come to completely despise him.  The genius of Tony was in the passionate ambivalence of the viewer.  Tony wasn’t for reductionists and he wasn’t for the self righteous.  He was complex.  So was his family.  Anytime Carmela felt sorry for her sad state of marital affairs — and it happened a lot, and Tony was always to blame — the context would develop in the form of heated argument.  The only thing we became sure of was that life is never simple.  Tony delivered that message with his temper, his foul mouth, his shitty grin, his infidelity, his points of loyalty, and his forever unpredictability.  I don’t know if The Sopranos is the greatest television series in history, but I know that there has not been another like it, and I know that there has not been another character like Tony.  There never will be.

Rest in peace.

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3 Comments

by | June 19, 2013 · 9:27 PM

3 responses to “James Gandolfini Is Dead at 51

  1. EqualsNoWay

    Worstepranos > Worste Men > The Worst (season 4 really hurts this one)

    • Mad Men Seasons 4-6 is probably a better run of seasons than any other. Sopranos had selected episodes probably better than anything from the others. The Wire had the fewest disappointing seasons (0) and that epic Season 4.

      • EqualsNoWay

        Worstepranos seasons = 6 > 3 > 5 > 2 > 1 > 4

        Worste Men = 4 > 3 > 5 > 1 > 6 > 2

        The Worst = 2 > 3 > 5 > 1 > 4

        Worstepranos was breaking new ground turning television into a vastly superior narrative format than movies, so its first couple seasons can be forgiven for seeming a little lackluster today. There is no excuse for the Carmela-Is-Sad of season 4, though.

        This current season of Worste Men hasn’t been too compelling.

        Season 4 of The Worst is the worst one because it wasn’t The Worst. It became something else. If it had been an entirely different show, that would have been fine. But it wasn’t. It was the same show. Other than that, The Worst was the most consistently good of these shows. It’s three best seasons, however, weren’t as good as the three best seasons of The Worstepranos or the three best seasons of Worste Men.