Song of the Day: Emmylou Harris, "Heaven Only Knows"
I'm in the midst of re-watching The Sopranos for probably the fourth or fifth time, and every time I make my way through the series I notice something new. This time around, one thing has snapped into focus: The Sopranos is the best binge show of all time.
I actually watched the show live throughout the back half of its run, and though pretty much every fan and critic agreed that it was one of the best programs every put on television, that didn't stop them from complaining about it constantly.
I was annoyed by it when it was happening, but now I kind of get it because The Sopranos took its time. There are entire episodes that just kind of wander around, and that's what I liked about it. My defense always was that real life is pretty slow and often aimless, and a great TV show should reflect how things actually are. But in working through it another time, I realize that there are a lot of narrative seeds planted that don't pay off until many episodes (or even seasons) later. Those elements are deceptive, because they are mixed in with bits that don't go anywhere, and many of the bits that look like future developments (most notably, the missing Russian from season three's "Pine Barrens") turn out to be nothing.
You can only really make the connections once you've seen the clues pay off (or in my case, four or five times), which is why The Sopranos has gotten better with age and both benefits and rewards further close reading. Today's song is from the premiere of season five (aka "The One Where the Bear Shows Up"), providing bookends to the aftermath of Tony and Carmela's marriage. I'm going back to HBO Go.