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#54: In the News

An ironic prompt, considering that I was mentioned in the news this week because of my devotion to The Sopranos! Here are the articles:

When The Times published (and posted online) an article asking readers for their opinions on the HBO television drama “The Sopranos,” we didn’t get as many responses as we expected.

The messages we did receive, however, came from all over. Two California bloggers, for example, were kind enough to follow up to e-mail questions I’d sent them.

Fewer than three hours after we went to press (with reader box included) Friday, we received an e-mail from Timothy Sheedy of Clovis, Calif., who commented on treatment of Italian-Americans on “The Sopranos.”

“I check the (Times) Web site regularly to keep track of news and deaths,” said Sheedy, a Seneca native whose wife, Sue, is 50 percent Italian and originally from Peru. “My wife and I lived in Spring Valley up until the time we moved and are humored by the knowledge that we found Italians all grant each other nicknames and invent their own local dialect.”

Closer to home, Randy Simpson of Mendota weighed in on the show’s final episodes:

“I am going out on a limb and say that Tony Soprano’s nephew Christopher is going to ‘clip’ the head of the Soprano Crime Family Tony ‘T’ Soprano. That would shock everyone, and no one would be expecting that type of ending,” Simpson said via e-mail.

“Bears Fan from Wisconsin” said: “‘The Sopranos’ had as many or more viewers than Sunday night football. I have seen every episode and hate to see the drama come to an end. It is of my opinion that it was HBO’s best! Life however will go on! We just will not have ‘The Sopranos.'”

“NB from Alexandria, Va.” asked if there would be a “Sopranos” movie. An answer came from “Aaron,” who discounted a film and offered a Web site containing “Sopranos” spoilers — http://www.lbracco.com/sopranos062spoilers12.htm.

Why were people from California, Virginia and even New Hampshire responding to a La Salle County reader box? Here’s one reason.

“I have Google alerts for Gandolfini and other ‘Sopranos’ topics, so I get e-mail notifications of stories written. It was from one of those alerts that I ended up on your Web site and read your piece,” e-mailed Janie Hickok Siess of Lodi, Calif. (a couple of hours up the road from Clovis, actually).

“Yes, I frequently surf about ‘The Sopranos,’ checking out HBO’s Web site, as well as others,” she continued. “I have ‘Sopranos’ apparel (including a BadaBing hat that I wear to water aerobics). I have Comcast and watch past episodes On Demand from time to time, but I also have every single episode, as well as other Sopranos-related shows, on DVD’s.”

“I am the resident ‘Sopranos’ expert at my office and have settled more than one dispute about storylines.”

Bet you have, Janie. More power to you.

It took three phone calls to reach Patrick Corcoran of Ottawa (see related article), but he gave me some of the most heartfelt opinion about “The Sopranos” that I’ve seen.

That’s one interesting thing about cyberspace: you can become acquainted with total strangers over a single subject.

Just don’t call any of the aforementioned acquaintances from 8 to 9 p.m. Sunday. They won’t pick up the phone.

Patrick Corcoran can’t wait.

The 35-year-old Ottawa resident is highly anticipating Sunday’s 8 p.m. airing of “The Sopranos,” the first of the final nine episodes of the landmark premium television series.

“I’m in high gear about the episodes,” he told The Times this week. “I want to see how it ends — who gets whacked, who doesn’t.”

Since the HBO series is about a New Jersey organized crime boss, getting whacked (killed off) is a core of the show and has been since the show debuted in 1999.

Another core, the passionate minions of “Sopranos” fans, will eye Sunday with mixed feelings. On the one hand, they’ll get to see how the whole saga ends.

Then again, the fact that “The Sopranos” will come to a close is agonizing for some of the show’s faithful.

“You can’t take ‘Sopranos’ off the set or I’ll wack (sic) ya personally my self É It needs ta stay on the air,” e-mailed Rob from Concord, N.H., in response to a reader box published in The Times.

Entertainment about organized crime has long fascinated people who would never even think about jaywalking. Many regard “The Sopranos” as the small-screen version of “The Godfather” movies — mob sagas that rate among the very finest products of their mediums.

“I just love the show. It’s one of the better ones I’ve seen,” said Corcoran, a restaurant delivery driver.

“I wouldn’t say that I am obsessed, but I think I have not missed an episode,” Randy Simpson, a Mendota firefighter, said via e-mail.

In a recent edition, the Chicago Tribune called the show “the most influential television drama ever.”

“Did they really?” said Michael Niederman, chairman of the television department at Columbia College in Chicago. “It’s debatable (but) it’s on the short list. I don’t think there’s any question about that.”

Since its beginning, “The Sopranos” has focused on the mob duties of Tony Soprano (played by Emmy winner James Gandolfini), and the conflict his work has caused in his immediate family. Tony is so troubled that he continues to regularly see a psychiatrist (Lorraine Bracco).

Despite the fact that the show is set in a small corner of the world, northern New Jersey, it attracts fans from all over. La Salle County has little to do with that setting.

“Some of what I go by and how I’ve grown up are reflected in the show. I can identify with some of the characters,” Corcoran said.

“One of the guys I work with reads a lot about the Mafia,” Simpson said. “When this show (first) aired back in 1999, I watched it just because I found some of my co-worker’s stories interesting. Well, that’s all it took.”

Niederman, an admitted “Sopranos” fan, feels Tony Soprano hits a nerve.

“It very much tapped into a trend of the antihero as a core character. He’s a fully-realized, three-dimensional complicated character. This man you both love and hate.”

In a media-obsessed world, “The Sopranos” practically takes over the lives of its biggest fans. Consider this response to The Times reader box — from Janie Hickok Siess of Lodi, Calif.:

“This week I will be devoting my evenings to rewatching the previous episodes to be completely ready for Sunday night at which time the phone will be unplugged, the doorbell ignored if it rings, the computer recording the episode (it is connected to the cable box) for posterity. Since I get HBO East and West Coast channels, I will be watching at least twice.”

Locally, Corcoran got hooked on the show by borrowing DVD boxed sets of the entire series. A family friend owns every episode, and Corcoran has seen them all.

Yet he’s never viewed a regularly-scheduled “Sopranos.” Corcoran recently ordered a Mediacom cable package that includes HBO, and for the final run will watch his favorite show the same time everyone else does.

“I’m happy I won’t have to wait days or weeks to see what happens,” he said.

Misti Dobyns, a customer service representative at Family Video in Streator, said “Sopranos” DVDs are rented regularly.

“We don’t keep track (of how many), but they rent steadily,” she said.

At Movie Gallery in Ottawa, Manager Chris Campbell said “The Sopranos” has been one of his store’s most popular TV series rentals the past couple of years.

Campbell said he likes the show, but admitted “I just don’t have the time to sit down and watch it.”

Niederman said “The Sopranos” has improved — and darkened — TV dramas. Quality, like-minded programs such as “Six Feet Under,” “The Shield” and “Lost” have thrived.

“It raised the bar for pay cable channels and ultimately for broadcast channels,” he said. “You had to keep up with television because it was hip and interesting to watch.”

Regardless of how hip they are (or think they are), a great deal of TV viewers are anticipating Sunday night.

“Some of the shows seem so complex and real,” Corcoran said, “such as people like me and my friends — except for the killing, of course.”

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Sunday Scribblings

6 Comments

  1. Herb Urban

    I hate to admit this, but I have somehow managed to never see an episode. I love Goodfellas and The Godfather, and spent years in NJ, so this show would seem right up my alley.

    Thank goodness for Netflix. I can get caught up in a matter of months, if not weeks!

  2. Enjoy your show, and thanks for stopping by and commenting at But Wait….

    (Although it WASN’T your first visit!)

  3. Susan Abraham

    Hi JHS,
    It’s a heartache when Blogger eats comments and it just did mine.
    I think I said how sophisticated and stylish-looking I thought your blog was. Also that I happen to like The Sopranos and thank you for stopping by mine, yesterday.
    cheers. 🙂

  4. Loving Annie

    I’m telling you, Carmella ought to whack him when she catches him with his next goomah (girlfriend)…

  5. Regina Clare Jane

    I have never watched a single episode- although I can say that about many shows! We don’t have TV! But, congrats on the news mention- that’s exciting!

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