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Sopranos, The - The Complete Series Review

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A set you'd whack someone for
by Gord Lacey (All reviews)

The Sopranos was a show that helped bring HBO into a lot of living rooms. It was always talked about, speculated on, and mentioned in the news, sometimes for reasons other than what happened on the show. The show was on TV for 8 years (1999-2007), though took a long, painful break between the 5th and 6th seasons. HBO released the first season on DVD back in 2000, before TV-on-DVD really took off, and followed it up with a release a year, except in 2004, finally finishing the series in October, 2007. Now they've released a beautiful complete series set, which could be the most anticipated release of the season. Is it worth your hard-earned money? Read on...

The Packaging
The packaging for The Sopranos is a thing of beauty, and you can tell how much this sets means to HBO by the way they packaged it. The set comes in a nice sturdy box covered in black fabric, with a faint silk-screen of The Sopranos logo on the front. Removing the lid exposes the red inside of the box, and the black cloth cover which holds the book containing the DVDs. There's a ribbon to help remove the book from the case, which will be familiar to anyone who bought one of the season sets, as the ribbon could be found in those as well. I had a bit of a hard time removing the book the first time because HBO has packed the set very well, including little pieces of foam to keep the set from moving around at all. I was impressed by this, as it shows how much thought went into the set, and into keeping it pristine until it's delivered to the customer. The book slides out of the cloth bag, and is covered by the same fabric used for the box; a red logo appears on the front. The book is made out of extremely thick cardboard, and the pages contain a photo on the left, a list of the disc contents on the right, and then the two pages following contain the discs. Being slightly anal-retentive, I liked that the discs were placed into the cardboard sleeves with the labels facing the right way; it must have been done by hand, as I can't see a machine aligning things perfectly like that. The discs slip into little recessed pouches in the large cardboard pages, and unfortunately they make contact with the cardboard. The good news is that I only had scratches on 4 of the discs, and they were all extremely small, and may be caused by something other than the packaging. It's still something to note though; I really don't like packaging that makes contact with the discs. There's only one down-side to the package: it's a bit too large to fit on a standard DVD shelf (as you can see in my photo below).

The Material
This massive set includes all 86 episodes from the 6-season series, plus 3 music CDs, and 2 bonus discs. The discs containing the episodes are the same as the season sets, just with new labels, so all the bonus material is present on the complete series set. The CDs included in the set are the two soundtracks offered separately, also with new labels so they match the rest of the discs in the set. The two bonus discs have a bunch of new material:

Supper with The Sopranos (1:14:52)
Some cast and crew sit down to talk about the show, including the ending of the series (though they don't reveal exactly what happened). The ending of the first dinner was a bit strange, they cut Chase off mid-sentence. Part 1 (36:50) - Executive Producer/Creator David Chase, Executive Producer/Writer Terence Winter, Director Allen Coulter and Cast Members Aida Turturro, Dominic Chianese and Robert Iler.
Part 2 (38:02) - David Chase, Executive Producer/Writer Matthew Weiner, Director Alan Taylor, Executive Producer Ilene Landress and Cast Members Edie Falco and Stevie Van Zandt.

Lost Scenes (21:33)
Deleted scenes from the series:
Season 1 (1:33)
Season 2 (7:50)
Season 3 (2:17)
Season 4 (1:59)
Season 5 (2:24)
Season 6 Part 1 (4:43)
Season 6 Part 2 (0:47)

Alec Baldwin Interviews David Chase (43:15)
Alec Baldwin, a huge fan of the show, interviews David Chase. It's an interesting interview, though Baldwin's questions are often straight-to-the-point.

"Whacked Sopranos" (1:09:28)
The Paley Center for Media held a seminar featuring many of the "whacked" Soprano character. I'm not going to list them here in case someone who hasn't seen the show is reading the review (and if you've seen the show then you know who to expect on the panel).

Extra Gravy (7:09)
Spoofs of The Sopranos can be found on disc 2:
The Simpsons (1:03)
Saturday Night Live (3:10)
MADtv (2:56)

To Upgrade, or Not to Upgrade?
There are a lot of reasons to upgrade to this set, and one huge one not to... the price (roughly $260). If you want a beautiful set that you can put on your shelf, and are a fan of bonus material, then you'll look past the price of the set and pick this up. If you could sell your existing sets for $30-$40 you'd be pretty close to paying for this complete series set. I expect this will be purchased as a gift by lots of people, and what a gift it will make. The packaging HBO created for the set says "Hi, I'm an expensive gift with something special inside," and the person on the receiving end should love it. This is, without a doubt, the nicest complete series set I've seen all year.

Here's a shot of the set on my shelf. You can see the box is a bit larger than a standard DVD set, and may not fit on your shelf. If you find the box won't fit on your shelf you could always remove the book and place that on the shelf, and store the exterior box elsewhere.

The Sopranos Complete

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