When everyone is telling you how great a show is, it is possible to expect too much. Not in this case. While both subtle and sublime, it also is very violent at times. And while it was playing at HBO and therefor was allowed to do anything it liked to do (nudity and violence/blood), it never did anything just because it could do it. If you had bare breasts, it was at a strip club. If there was violence it occasionally lingered upon it, but sometimes cut away from it too.
But let's get to where the show is great: It's acting cast. I had seen quite a few movies with James Gandolfini, but it's a real eye opener seeing him as Tony Soprano. He uses a special "voice", that he made up for the character. And it suits him and the story. The show as it is, is trying not to judge too much. It leaves quite a lot of things open for interpretation. It does ground the Gangsters into reality, but it also lets you know that, there is more to some of them than meets the eye.
Of course the charismatic portrayal by Gandolfini might lead to impressions that were not entirely intended (just as Pacinos Scarface wasn't meant to be an idol either). But you can't fault the actor or the filmmakers for conclusions other people reach about their creation.
Having said that, the first season did seem a bit dated decorations wise, when looked upon in 2011 or '12 for that matter. But it does not take anything away from the show. And while I will still state that "West Wing" is my favorite TV show (the first 4 seasons were superior, the latter 3 not as good), the Sopranos is consistently good throughout it's 6(.5) seasons!
Another great thing about the show is, that it builds upon the story it set out. So there are strands of the story that will be explored later. But as in real life, some things might go unnoticed forever. You never know with the Sopranos what i's going to be. And it's a very good thing.
I drew my own conclusions concerning the ending, but I'm sure there other interpretations out there .. and the ending couldn't have been anything else. It just couldn't!
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