The Sopranos-Season 3 (2001)
Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-The Telltale Moozadell
Audio Commentary-Pine Barrens-Steve Buscemi
Audio Commentary-Armour Fou-David Chase
|Year Of Production||2001|
|Running Time||691:40 (Case: 754)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (4)
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Various|
Warner Home Video
Steven van Zandt
Drea de Matteo
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
For me, this is easily the most adult and watchable show on television. The Sopranos has grown beyond the boundaries of a mere soap opera which just happened to be about a crime family into a seriously entertaining look at a stereotypical American family that just happens to have a father who is steeped in organised crime and how he deals with both of his families. Executive producer David Chase has spawned one of the most intelligent shows to come out of America in a long time, yet the writing often doesn't get much above the groin, which is part of the charm, as it is more realistic in its impact. Another reason for the show's immediate appeal is in the cast that Chase has managed to bring together. Each actor imbues their character with a real life and personality that you can easily believe.
As the show prepares for its fourth series here, the third series on DVD brings about a lot of changes to the Soprano family. For those of you who have never seen the series before, it would be well worth trying to get hold of the first two series before watching some of these episodes as there is a lot of crossover, even though most episodes are fairly self-contained. One thing I should mention is that due to the nature of the material and the way it is presented, it is hard to make a short précis of each episode without giving away details, so be warned that major plot developments are mentioned under each subtitle. There are 13 episodes in this collection and they are:
Mr Ruggerio's Neighbourhood - 47:07
The FBI are back up to their old tricks and keeping a close eye on the Soprano household while they apply for a warrant to institute a wire tap. After making a replica of a lamp in his basement, the FBI are about to enter his residence again to plant the bug when there is a commotion and things go awry when Tony (James Gandolfini) and Carmela (Edie Falco) rush back to the house unexpectedly, almost throwing into chaos months of careful planning. Not knowing the problem, the FBI can only guess and when they finally discover what has almost nullified their planned bugging - a blown water heater that has flooded the basement - they are forced to sit on their hands and hope for another window of opportunity before their warrant expires. Meanwhile, the surveillance continues and the arrival of Patsy Parisi (Dan Grimaldi) pointing a gun at Tony who is seen in his kitchen window causes some consternation until he leaves, but only after peeing in the pool. Carmela meantime finds out her tennis coach is leaving and a new coach has taken his place, but she is more interested in Adriana (Drea de Matteo) than in giving lessons. Finally, the bug is planted and the FBI sit back to begin recording anything of interest.
Proshai; Livushka - 54:42
Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) brings home a new boyfriend, Noah Tannenbaum (Patrick Tully), who is African-American/Jewish, much to Tony's chagrin. After a quiet word with Noah that basically insults him on every level, he storms out and when Meadow finds out it causes much friction between father and daughter. Meantime, Tony visits his mother, Livia (Nancy Marchand, who was actually dead in real life when this was made, so her head was CGI inserted onto a body double), who is being looked after by Svetlana, a one-legged Russian émigré who is helping out. Later that same day, Carmela announces to Tony that his mother has died and they drive over to speak to Svetlana. The death of Tony's mother comes as a shock to the family and friends but Tony is struggling hard to hold back his delight and act the duly heartbroken son. After organising for the family to be together, including his sister Janice (Aida Turturro), who is initially reluctant to return, family and friends, including Corrado Soprano (Dominic Chianese), the nominal head of the family gather together to pay their last respects. When Janice arrives she manages to take over the preparations, even though her mother wanted a quiet funeral and everyone tries to put on their best face as the funeral becomes something of an event.
Fortunate Son - 56:07
Chris Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) gets a call from his boss, Paulie Gaultieri (Tony Sirico) and he thinks it's his big day, the day he gets made. Either that, or he's going to be whacked. At his induction into the family, a black crow sits at a window putting the wind up him. As part of his new responsibilities, he's handed a sports betting book and told the setup including how much a week he has to kick upstairs as part of his end. Meantime, Janice is hanging around Tony's house so he recommends she moves into her mother's place while everything is sorted out, which suits Janice perfectly. Her first order of business is to get Svetlana to give back her mother's record collection which has gone missing and after some confrontation with Svetlana she steals her artificial leg in order to make her comply. Jackie Aprile Jr (Jason Cerbone) causes some friction with his refusal to attend dinner at the Soprano household so Tony has a heart-to-heart with him to straighten him out. Anthony Jr (Robert Iler) gets a break on the local football team which pleases Tony no end, but Moltisanti is finding life as a made guy isn't all it's cracked up to be. In order to cover his shortfall to Pauli, he ends up having to pull a heist and includes Jackie Jr as the driver, which doesn't sit well with Tony. Carmela has her hands full in amongst all this trying to smooth the troubled waters between Tony and Meadow who are hardly speaking to each other over Noah.
Employee of the Month - 50:38
Dr Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) raises the possibility with Tony about bringing Carmela to a session with him. Melfi vents her own feelings about her patient with her own psychiatrist. Janice is searching her mother's house to find a hidden stash she believes is somewhere there. Jackie Jr and Ralph Cifaretto (Joe Pantoliano) sit down for dinner before Ralphie invites him to come on a little trip to sort out some business where Ralphie shows his true mettle. Johnny Sacks (Vince Curatola) has just moved into the neighbourhood. Johnny is a captain in a New York gang and a potential problem for Tony. Soon after, Tony sits down with Ralphie and replaces him as captain of Jackie Aprile's old crew which doesn't sit well with Ralphie. Shortly after a session with Dr Melfi, she is raped in the garage getting into her car to go home, forcing her to cancel sessions with many of her patients and causing her to re-evaluate some of her own pent up feelings and anxieties. The detectives who investigate her case are sympathetic but seemingly ultimately inept as the culprit is set free on a technicality which causes her no end of angst. All this and the FBI are listening in on their wire tap in the Soprano household as Chris admits to Jackie Jr's involvement in the Rutger's heist. Some good news, though - a new $100m investment redeveloping the docklands of Newark, from which the Soprano family stand to make a considerable cut, is announced.
Another Toothpick - 57:30
Tony and Carmela both attend one of his sessions together with Dr Melfi but Carmela is put out by the suggestion that their dialogue might be part of the cause of Tony's panic attacks. Leaving the session in a rage, Tony is booked for speeding which does nothing to improve his demeanour and he determines to have the booking squashed along with the cop (Charles S. Dutton) who issued the ticket. In another part of town, a random act of violence has tragic consequences. While parked to get some breakfast, Mustang Sally (Brian Tarantina) a local pimp, uses a golf club to bash in the brains of a cousin of the Aprile family, which calls for retribution. At a funeral for Carmela's uncle, Bobby Bacala Snr (Burt Young), suffering from lung cancer and near death is given the bad news about his godson Mustang Sally, but he tells Tony to do whatever he has to do, and Tony hands the job over to Bacala for his final swansong. Over at Vesuvius, Arty Bucco's (John Ventimiglia) restaurant, he is given the bad news that Adriana is quitting after Chris decides he doesn't want her working anymore. Arty puts his foot in it, revealing a secret crush on Adriana which doesn't sit well with Tony and especially not with Chris. All is not rosy for the FBI either, as Meadow innocently destroys their wire tap operation when she takes the lamp back with her to Columbia and ruins everything for them.
University - 47:02
Tracee (Ariel Kiley), a young hostess at the Bada Bing, tries to become friendly with Tony but he keeps her at arm's length due to her involvement with Ralphie. Over at Columbia, Meadow and Noah are fast developing their friendship, but Meadow's roommate, Caitlin (Ari Graynor), is going through a crisis and puts a damper on things including interfering with Noah's scholastic pursuits. Back at home, things between Tony and Meadow are still frosty when she returns home to do her washing and Carmela warns Tony to ease off. That night at the Bada Bing it's VIP night and the girls are entertaining the various crews when Ralphie shows up, coked off his face and causing trouble. After injuring one of the bouncers in a poor practical joke, he is forced to take him to hospital for treatment leaving the others to ponder over his fate. From here, things go from bad to worse when Ralphie kills Tracee for backchatting him in the carpark of the Bing and Tony goes off his head and beats up on Ralphie as a consequence. Meantime, back at Columbia, Noah ditches Meadow who he believes is becoming too much of a distraction from his school work.
Second Opinion - 56:57
Uncle Jr goes in for an operation on his cancer while Chris is being subjected to the humiliation of strip searches for wires during his probation as a made guy. After complaining to Tony about Paulie's antics, his complaining gets back to Paulie who sets Chris straight about his place in the scheme of things. At the Bing, Tony sees a new gimmick toy called a Big Mouth Billy Bass on his desk and goes berserk for no reason and smashes the toy over one of the bartenders in a rage which confuses everyone. Carmela tells her parents about visiting Tony's shrink and then goes to see Dr Melfi on her own to sort a few things out and is recommended to another psychiatrist to sort out some of her own problems. Uncle Jr has a hard time after his operation not being able to eat anything solid and Tony suggests getting a second opinion. After doing so, the matter of Corrado's cancer is put to a special board where chemotherapy is recommended and his surgeon, Dr John Kennedy (Sam McMurray), refuses to take any of his calls or answer any of his messages. After telling Tony of this, Tony and Furio (Frederico Castelluccio) go to visit Dr Kennedy and convince him of the mistake of snubbing his uncle.
He is Risen - 51:50
Meadow runs into Jackie Jr at a rave party where he is selling ecstasy to the students. After hooking up Meadow with a tab, Jackie Jr tries his luck but Meadow passes out before he can reach first base. Tony and Silvio (Steve van Zandt) have a heart-to-heart about Ralphie and Silvio lets him know he is out of order in regards to his actions over Tracee. Tony, though, is having a hard time accepting Ralphie's actions and deliberately uninvites him to Thanksgiving at his house, knowing the insult will be relayed back to Ralphie anyway. Seeking to vent a little, he arrives for his appointment with Dr Melfi to find Gloria (Annabella Sciorria), a Mercedes saleswoman who is double booked, sitting and waiting for her appointment. Allowing her to take the session, Tony arranges to meet her later at the dealership where she works and begins a relationship with her. Ralphie goes to see Johnny Sacks about his problems with Tony which results in Johnny mentioning it to Tony who gets upset at the interference in his affairs. During a strenuous session on the toilet, Gigi Cestone (John Fiore), the man who replaced Ralphie as captain of Jackie Aprile's old crew, dies of a heart attack. At his funeral, Uncle Jr gives Tony some advice - either deal with Ralphie or get rid of him, so Tony arranges another meeting with Ralphie where he promotes him to captain, but the bad blood remains.
The Telltale Moozadell - 53:24
It's Carmela's birthday and Tony gives her a huge sapphire ring as a present. Meadow gives her a health spa certificate and Anthony Jr gives her The Matrix. Meantime, Furio closes on a gambling debt which sees him and Chris become part owners of a bar called the Lollipop Club. Chris gives control of the club over to Adriana so she can manage it for them. Later that day, Jackie Jr drops in and Carmela and Tony have a brief discussion where Carmela expresses her doubts about them and Tony promises to have a real heart-to-heart with him. Later that night in a prank, AJ and some friends break into the school swimming pool and trash the place. After a brief investigation, AJ is suspended and must face Tony and Carmela with the news. Meantime, Jackie Jr, unsure of his place in things, is offering to help out a small time dope dealer who has been caught dealing in the new nightclub made out of the old Lollipop Club and given a rough time by Furio. Claiming to have sorted things out in a sit-down with Chris Moltisanti, where he is given a very cold shoulder, he makes matters worse by pretending to have arranged an alternate site to sell from, but this time Furio puts the dealer in hospital. Tony and Carmela decide to take stern action over AJ's obvious lack of discipline and AJ finally finds out what gutters are.
To Save Us All From Satan's Power - 43:49
Flashback to earlier times when Tony had more hair and he was part of Jackie Aprile's (Michael Rispoli). They have a meeting at a restaurant on the promenade with Pussy Bonpensiero (Vincent Pastore) who has since been consigned to the depths when it was discovered he'd turned rat for the Feds. Back in the present day, Tony is confronted with more problems between Paulie and Ralph and has a panic attack when trying to get out of bed the next morning, so goes back to see Dr Melfi and work out what is causing it. Janice announces she's going to hold Christmas dinner at her place this year, much to Tony and Carmela's chagrin, but they accept it. Visiting her to begin setting up, Janice informs Tony that she might need an operation on her hand after it was damaged by the Russians who paid her a visit to retrieve Svetlana's prosthesis, which annoys Tony immensely. Silvio has a nightmare about Pussy and talks to Tony about it and the crew begin to think back to when and where he was turned, realising it was at the last Christmas presents giveaway when he rolled up drunk. Over at Artie's restaurant, Charmaine (Kathrine Narducci) is back causing grief for both Artie and Tony. Jackie Jr meantime really makes a mistake when Tony finds him with one of the bar girls at the Bing and gives him a thumping.
Pine Barrens - 57:22
Gloria arrives at Tony's boat, the Stugots and chucks a wobbly after taking a phone call from Tony's ex-girlfriend, then storms out leaving Tony perplexed. Sometime later, Tony rings Paulie and instructs him to pick up $5,000 owed to Silvio who's out sick with the flu from Valery, one of the Russian mobsters. Carmela and Tony go to see Dr Melfi again and they hash out the problems of Jackie Jr and Meadow. Over at Columbia, Meadow has the flu and refuses Jackie Jr's advances, who then begs off with a prior engagement. Paulie and Chris go to visit Valery to collect the money but Paulie is not well-pleased and his actions cause a ruckus which ends up with Paulie choking Valery half to death. Fearing complications, they wrap him up in a blanket and intend to take him out to the Pine Barrens and bury the body, but Valery isn't quite dead, although he's still cursing them profusely. Deciding to take no chances, Paulie and Chris march Valery deep into the forest and force him to start digging his own grave, but things go further awry when Valery manages to escape and runs off deeper into the forest, but not before Paulie gets a head shot in. From here on in, both men have a problem - it's freezing cold, snowing and they are lost in the middle of nowhere and they can't find their car so they are forced to spend the night in an abandoned vehicle.
Amour Fou - 57:36
This penultimate episode sees many changes in the fortunes of the characters in the series. Carmela has begun to question her role with Tony, and although not about to make any radical changes, she slowly becomes aware of her hypocrisy. Tony and Gloria's relationship steadily declines, then Tony totally loses his cool and almost chokes Gloria to death after an endless series of confrontations and the way Gloria is starting to impinge on his home life, which is sacrosanct. His final method of rectifying the situation is chillingly simple yet aptly sinister. Jackie Jr finally loses the plot in this episode when, after being told a story by Ralphie about how Tony and his father became known guys, he decides to emulate his daring feat, but things go tragically awry. Deciding to hold up a card game run by Ralphie, one of his accomplices shoots the dealer and badly injures Furio in the shootout. Thereafter, he's a man on the run with no friends and nowhere to turn. Tony, in the meantime, tells Ralphie that this is his problem and he has to deal with it.
Army of One - 57:36
The final episode of the series sees AJ expelled from school after being found out cheating on his Geography exam paper after he and a friend hid out in the school basement and then broke into the office to steal the paper. Tony goes ballistic and decides enough is enough and he's going to enrol him in a military college so he can learn discipline, which is absolutely not what AJ wants. Jackie Jr is a hunted man and hides out in a housing estate in Boonton, but is finally tracked down and executed. At the funeral, Uncle Jr tells Tony he's beaten cancer which is some good news, but now the FBI have him marked down again for a fall. Paulie's problem with Ralphie over a job and his cut comes to a head and Paulie insists on a sit-down where Tony sides with Ralphie and instead of getting $50k for his share, he's offered a mere $12k which puts on hold his plans for his mother's retirement home fees and puts a little bad blood between him and Tony. Carmela, Tony and AJ go to Hudson Military Institute to enrol AJ, but after a short tour and indoctrination, when putting on his dress greys at home, AJ suffers the same panic attacks as Tony, effectively ending his chances at military school. At the funeral for Jackie Jr, the Feds bust Silvio and Chris for illegal gambling and everything isn't looking as rosy as it once was.
There is a fair amount of disparity between the various episodes and indeed between the discs, mainly in the lighting and overabundance of colour. Disc 1 is by far the superior of the collection sporting what is, apart from some minor annoyances, an almost spotless presentation. Of the other discs, they are basically on a par with each other, but overall the complete collection is a real treat and is extremely watchable. One small note I should make here is that in Episode 2, the CGI overlay on the body double of Livia's head was very noticeable. They did a reasonable job of disguising it, but those with good set-ups should notice the slight difference in colour between her head and the surrounding frame.
Shot in 1.78:1 widescreen format, this series is presented in that same format on DVD and is 16x9 enhanced.
One of my biggest gripes with the entire 13 episodes is the over-abundant use of edge enhancement, which is visible everywhere. I suppose being a TV show that sharpening up the picture by using this technique makes sense, but the moment you see it on a DVD it simply looks out of place. Sharpness is somewhat diminished by this process and the fact that in some episodes there was a feeling of a ghost around the characters, although this is nearly impossible to nail down. Shadow detail suffers from two major drawbacks; the first is the director's desire to make the foreground characters the total focus of attention and therefore the blackening out of any background detail; and the second is the lighting. In brightly-lit or outdoors shots there is a real depth to the picture. In darkened rooms, the background is nothing more than total black. Fine detail is fairly consistent across the board, and for the most part, grain stays strictly in the background. The opening credits are fairly 'noisy' but overall, grain is pleasantly subdued. Low level noise wasn't an issue.
In the first couple of episodes, the colour is superb with no real problems. It's only from the second disc on that anything untoward can be seen. Overall, the palette is wide and varied with very natural saturation occurring and no chroma noise noted. From Disc 2 on, the lighting varied substantially and in several episodes there was an oversaturation of reds with the result that colour bleed is noticeable and skin tones become a little off as a result.
The most pleasant surprise was the complete lack of any film artefacts on any of the episodes reviewed. If there were any minor blemishes, they were not noticeable or were covered by the background and invisible. Compression artefacts were a different story, with pixelization visible from the outset. Also noticeable from time to time were aliasing and moiré artefacts, but not to any great extent in any episode and for the most part, unless you are highly critical and specifically look for these glitches, none of them should jump out at you. Rather, they will remain unnoticed in the background clutter. A friend of mine has pointed out that watching a movie as a reviewer has its drawbacks, since you notice these slight errors without even looking for them.
The subtitles are okay without being perfect. A good font is used which is easily readable at all times, but some words are left out and sentences are shortened, mostly to fit on-screen in one go, occasionally missing out on a name or something that has relevance. Still, if you are hard of hearing you shouldn't have too many problems following what is happening on screen with the subtitles.
Even though listed as dual layer, the first disc is a flipper with 2 episodes on each side. Disc 2 has a noticeable pause occurring at 23:48. On Disc 3 and 4, no pauses were noted.
As with Series 2, the soundtrack for this set of discs is in Dolby Digital 5.1 at 384 kilobits per second. You have a choice of English or French and I stuck with the former. As with the second series, the 5.1 soundtrack does its job adequately without being memorable. The fronts are well utilised at all times with lots of separation between them giving the widest soundstage possible. The rears are well matched but underutilised as normal, although they were rarely missed.
The dialogue and audio sync were excellent, even to the extent of matching Livia's voice with that of Tony and Svetlana perfectly.
As with the first two series, some excellent music is used to augment the visual fabric of the show from some very diverse sources. An eclectic mix of modern rock, blues and classical permeates the episodes, intertwining with the action. The only staple of the soundtrack is the opening theme (Woke Up This Morning by Alabama 3) and there is always something to close each episode, be it contemporary or classical.
With little to actually do except when there is music playing, the surrounds are fairly stagnant. The main menu music is a good example of how they work well when called upon, adding a solid, if unspectacular, envelope to the music. For the most part, as with most dialogue-driven shows, the surrounds are not needed and as such are rarely missed. They do their bit when called upon, but there simply isn't enough for them to do in the first place.
The subwoofer is another speaker that rarely gets called upon to do more than add a minor note here and there. For the most part, the subwoofer is almost totally inactive, even when the music is playing. The opening title track is probably the most active it ever becomes, adding greater weight to the bass notes. For the most part, though, it is rarely heard from.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 1 release misses out on:
The Sopranos is easily the most adult and entertaining television show yet. The release of Series 3 on DVD couldn't be better timed and the quality is excellent for a television show. From an excellent cast to superb scripts, this is one for the collection.
The video is very watchable with some annoying flaws but nothing that you'd get totally aggrieved about. Edge enhancement spoils most episodes with some ghosting noticeable from time to time, but the lack of film artefacts makes distractions minor for the most part.
The audio accompanies the visuals expertly. Music is more of an bystander at times, but it is used magnificently throughout. No complaints on this score with dialogue and voices very natural sounding and easy to comprehend.
With a running time near 700 minutes, extras are fairly skimpy, but three audio commentaries are quite good value, although the tacked-on HBO special is a bit of a waste of time.
|DVD||Toshiba SD5300, using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Xelos (81cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Rotel RSP-976. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Rotel RB 985 MkII|
|Speakers||JBL TLX16s Front Speakers, Polk Audio LS fx di/bipole Rear Speakers, Polk Audio CS350-LS Centre Speaker, M&KV-75 Subwoofer|