Screening ‘The Sopranos’ 20 Years Later

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Published April 17, 2019
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The Montclarion
The Film Institute at Montclair State University hosted a screening of the pilot episode of "The Sopranos" on April 1. Isaiah Miller | The Montclarion

The School of Communication and Media (SCM) held a colloquium that involved a pilot episode screening of HBO’s most popular crime drama series, “The Sopranos,” on the evening of Monday, April 1.

The series, which marks its 20th anniversary this year, was created and written by David Chase. The show revolves around the protagonist Tony Soprano, played by James Gandolfini, an Italian-American man who works as a mobster for a crime organization in New Jersey.

Throughout the series, Tony attempts to balance his work life with his family life and often goes to therapy sessions with his psychiatrist Dr. Jennifer Melfi, played by Lorraine Bracco, to help deal with his depression.

She also helps Tony deal with the issues he faces with his mother Livia Soprano, played by Nancy Marchand, as well as his wife Carmela, played by Edie Falco and his children Meadow and Anthony Jr., played by Jamie-Lynn Sigler and Robert Iler.

After the screening of the pilot episode, titled “The Sopranos,” a formal discussion of the series was held by the SCM’s clinical specialist, Susan Skoog.

Skoog has worked as a screenwriter in the entertainment industry, as well as a producer and director, for over 20 years. She initiated the interview with media professor Dr. Hugh Curnutt, executive film producer Mark Kamine – who has worked alongside actors Chadwick Boseman and Stephan James for the production of the upcoming 2019 action film “21 Bridges” – and writer Alan Sepinwall – who worked as a columnist with the Star Ledger for 14 years.

The panel discussion focused mostly on the creation of “The Sopranos” series as well as the casting of the characters and the idea behind the story, which was based on Chase’s own life experiences growing up in New Jersey.

Curnutt, Sepinwall and Kamine each provided their own feedback to the episode and praised the show for its ability to expose the conflicts between the characters and provide good character development for Tony Soprano.

Charles Weisman, a sophomore filmmaking major, said he is a huge fan of the show and was really engaged in the episode.

“I thought it was [a] pretty good [episode], and it’s my favorite [show],” Weisman said.

He also felt the colloquium was a bit long, but it didn’t matter as he had the pleasure of watching his favorite show.

While Weisman felt watching the episode was fulfilling enough, other students wanted more interaction with the panel.

Brooke Chiera, a sophomore filmmaking major, said that “The Sopranosis her favorite show. She wished the discussion panel provided more time for more Q&A.

“I wish there was more time for questions in the end,” Chiera said.

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The event took place in the Presentation Hall in the School of Communication and Media. Isaiah Miller | The Montclarion

While Chiera had a small issue with the amount of time given to ask questions, others that attended felt the program was great from start to finish.

Anna Fallon, a junior communication studies major, said “The Sopranos“ is her favorite show and enjoyed the feedback provided by Sepinwall and Curnutt.

“It was so interesting to hear why they picked certain locations and how Chase was super meticulous with his script,” Fallon said. “I loved the pilot episode and the series as a whole. I also thought it was an interesting touch to hear how Dr. Hugh felt about the show.”

Kristen Milburn, a junior English major and Montclarion staff writer, was in charge of handing out the flyers for the colloquium. She felt like the event was successful.

“I thought it was a really great event and that people had the opportunity to learn a lot about a popular show they either already love or wanted to know more about,” Milburn said. “It was exactly what all Film Institute events strive to be, which is fun and educational.”

The event allowed its audience members to engage and interact with one another, while critically analyzing the message behind one of the greatest series in television history.

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