from E! Online
The good news: After a 15-month break, the fifth season of The Sopranos will finally premiere on HBO on Sunday.
The even better news: For those who thought season four was a bit uneven, season five's action is a return to the can't-wait-to-see-the-next-episode drama that has kept Sopranos fans devoted to the series despite those infamous 15-month breaks between seasons.
The show's much-anticipated premiere is also good news for HBO, which just saw another of its signature series, Sex and the City, leave the airwaves last month after six seasons. Ten million viewers tuned in for the SATC finale, and the cable network is looking for even bigger numbers for The Sopranos on Sunday. More than 13 million viewers watched the show's fourth season premiere in September 2002.
But enough TV business. Let's get to family business . . .
As we meet up with the Sopranos in Sunday's opener, daughter Meadow (Jamie-Lynn DiScala) and more-obnoxious-than-ever son A.J. (Robert Iler) are heading off for Sunday dinner with the family, but not for one of mom Carmela's (Edie Falco) fancy, home-cooked spreads. Suddenly single Carm--Tony (James Gandolfini) has officially left Casa Soprano and is now camping out in his mom's house--is off to dinner with a friend, which has left Mead, A.J. and Tony to chow down at the home of Aunt Janice (Aida Turturro) and her new husband: Bobby Baccalieri.
Janice's dubious new role as the happy homemaker aside, she's still as sassy as ever, busting lumpy Bobby's chops as she puts dinner on the table and later dishing to her fellow mobster mamas at Carmela's new "film club" showing of Citizen Kane that unromantic Bobby has yet to find her "rosebud." Ew.
Bro Tony isn't having much better luck in the romance department. He's still romping with goomah Valentina, but Carmela is barely civil to him and his renewed infatuation with Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) ends in a volatile scene that paints him as both sympathetic and as the "sociopath" he's been labeled during Melfi's sessions with her own shrink.
As for Tony's other "family," the atmosphere is no less tension filled. "The Class of '04," a group of mobsters who've spent the last couple of decades in the slammer, is about to be freed and several are looking to rejoin the mob game. Tony gives a thumbs up to senior made man Feech (Robert Loggia), but tells him not to step on anyone's toes ("Me? I'm Fred Astaire," Feech answers).
Tony gets his own toes stepped on by newly sprung cousin Tony Blundetto (Steve Buscemi, who directed "Pine Barrens," one of the all-time great Sopranos episodes). Tony S. is all ready to welcome his favorite cousin back into the business, but a low-key Tony B.--sporting an '80s white suit that prompts Tony S. to make a Miami Vice crack--has his own post-prison career plans: he wants to "go straight" and become a message therapist.
Addict Christopher (Michael Imperioli) is desperately trying to remain sober. But his efforts are taxed by his ever-growing rivalry with Paulie (Tony Sirico), which leads, before the end of episode one, to the season's first whacking.
Uncle Junior (Dominic Chianese) doesn't seem to be just faking those memory lapses anymore.
New York boss Carmine's (Tony Lip) health is on a rapid decline, which brings his power-seeking, but Fredo-like son Little Carmine (Ray Abruzzo) back from Florida.
Carmine's consiglieri, Johnny Sack (Vincent Curatola), still has a serious beef with Tony.
Adriana's (Drea de Matteo) new attitude about her role as snitch for the FBI is going to spell more trouble for the Sopranos.
And Tony and his crew are donning guns to stake out an unwelcome guest at the Soprano manse.
Other Mob associates--including one played by singer Frankie Valli and a tough female boss played by Patti D'Arbanville--may also have Tony wishing he was back in therapy, while his problems with Carmela--despite an upcoming, brief reconciliation that's rumored--will continue throughout the season.
As riveting and entertaining as this season promises to be, there are a couple of downsides: first, season five is the penultimate year for series creator David Chase's masterpiece. Second, season six isn't scheduled to begin filming until April 2005, which means a late 2005 or even early 2006 premiere is likely.
Chase did hint to USA Today that he has that final season all mapped out, but will only reveal that the show ends with Tony reflecting on the past.
"Tony will ruminate on some of his family history," Chase said. "There are things that were done early on, which I think as time goes by will be regretted, and cause other things to be done."
Imperioli, whose hotheaded Christopher character is a recurring favorite in the "who will get whacked this season?" guessing game Sopranos fans play every season, gave USA Today a much more blunt prediction for the series finale.
"Knowing David, I know it's going to end tragically, and it should," Imperioli said.Posted by MK Magazine at March 6, 2004 04:13 PM