TV Club

Has The Sopranos Become Like Northern Exposure?


It’s a pleasure to be here filling in for Capeci. I feel like a bishop being asked to sub for the pope. I understand the liturgy, but I’m not sure I bring the same authority to the pulpit.

Yeah, I’m a Jersey guy. Lived here most of my life. I’ve spent the last 20 years writing about the Philadelphia crime family whose domain extends into southern New Jersey. The family also has a presence in Newark. So The Sopranos is, in many ways, home turf for me. That said, I never met the Chicken Man. He was popped just about the time I started writing about these guys. But his son, Salvie, was someone I covered in life and death.

Good segue to the darkness of this week’s episode, right? I talked to my friend Lou Pichini this morning. He’s a former prosecutor with the Organized Crime Strike Force in Philadelphia and a big Sopranos fan. He saw this episode as “family” rather than “Family” and said recidivism was the key.

Tony B. is obviously the prime example. And I agree, the cash chucked from the car was a little forced. But there’s precedent: We had a half-baked wiseguy named Joey Coyle down here in Philadelphia who found over $1 million in cash in some bags that fell off a payroll truck. The find literally ruined the guy’s life—he got into drugs and eventually committed suicide. It happens.

I also thought the whole massage-parlor business was heading toward a prostitution operation, but this might have been another example of Chase’s misdirecting us.

If it was Carmela’s butt, it was firm like a Jersey tomato. (Liked the contrast between that and Tony S. stripping down in the kitchen and jumping in the pool.)

What about the literary symbolism? Madame Bovary, Abelarde and Heloise, Lord of the Flies. Come on. It was like one of those Northern Exposure episodes. Best of all, though, was the West Side Story reference. Carmela tells the priest (and don’t you just want to slap the good father once or twice?) she feels like Maria in West Side Story. At the end of the episode, my wife tied it all together: She started humming that song in which Maria’s girlfriend says the only way to stay out of trouble is to “Stick to your own kind.”