`Sopranos' is back: Don't forget about it

March 06, 2006|By KEVIN COWHERD

OK, anyone who remembers anything about the last episode of The Sopranos raise your hand.

Me, I dimly remember two things.

I remember Tony Soprano whacking his cousin, Tony B., as he returned home from grocery shopping and thinking: "Uh-oh, someone picked up the wrong kind of prosciutto."

And I remember the feds raiding mobster Johnny Sack's house and a terrified Tony fleeing through the woods like he'd just spotted a Dick Cheney hunting party.

But after that it's all kind of hazy.

And no wonder.

Because the last time The Sopranos was on the air was 21 months ago.

Think about that: There's been no Sopranos for 21 months!

Not since back in June 2004!

Then the mob drama went on one of its famous extended hiatuses, with hiatus as defined by producer David Chase coming to mean: We'll be back when we feel like it. You got a problem with that?

But this Sunday the show begins its long-awaited -- did I mention 21 months? -- sixth season, which has Sopranos fans everywhere buzzing about what'll happen to the angst-ridden Jersey crime boss and his two families: his nutty wife and kids, and the merry gang of leg-breakers he pals around with to make a living.

As usual, Chase and everyone connected with the show have taken the oath of omerta as far as revealing details of episodes.

But Michael Imperioli, who plays the dark wise-guy prince Christopher, Tony's cousin, told USA Today that the theme of the coming season is "dissatisfaction with one's life, failed expectations."

This sort of makes Tony (James Gandolfini) and his friends sound crotchety and harmless, like a bunch of middle-aged college professors down in the dumps because they didn't get tenure.

The official HBO Sopranos Web site, though, alludes to a slightly different theme: "New challenges abound for Tony Soprano as his life grows increasingly complicated."

Um, excuse me?

Tony's life is just now growing increasingly complicated?

Like it was a day in a hammock before?

Look, I don't think Tony's had an uncomplicated day in his life since he was 4 years old.

If it's not one thing, it's the other with this guy.

If he's not worrying about his son A.J. (Robert Iler) lacking direction, he's hustling up to the family farm in upstate New York to blow away Tony B. (Steve Buscemi), who's become a political liability to harmonious relations with another crime family.

There's no down time for Tony Soprano, no time to smell the roses.

Still, it'll be interesting to see how much more complicated Tony's life becomes in the next 12 episodes, now that rival mob boss Johnny Sack (Vince Curatola) is in the slammer and Tony has reconciled with his long-suffering wife, Carmela (Edie Falco).

Apparently, he's also still in therapy, seeing as how Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) is still around and not being stuffed into a trash compactor or pushed over the side of a boat with cinderblocks tied to her torso.

And of course everyone's wondering if this is the season where Tony himself finally sleeps with the fishes -- or suffers another horrible fate -- as payback for all the nasty things he's done over the years.

Fueling such speculation is the fact that David Chase is again telling everyone that this will absolutely, positively, no doubt about it, cross my heart, no, I'm serious, you can take this to the bank, be the final season of The Sopranos.

Is this getting old, or what?

How long has this guy been saying the same thing?

And every time he says it, HBO executives start wailing and pointing pistols at their temples.

Then they write the guy another huge check, jump in their Land Rovers and hand-deliver it to his house.

Oh, um, wait a second.

Did we mention that Chase has also agreed to produce eight "bonus" episodes, scheduled to begin airing in January?

We should probably mention that.

In this case, a "bonus" episode as defined by Chase apparently means: Hey, HBO worms. I wrote another show. Put it on the air. You got a problem with that?

No sir, Mr. Chase, say the HBO guys.

No problem at all.

One second, sir, while we get the checkbook.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

To listen to podcasts featuring Kevin Cowherd, go to baltimoresun.com/cowherd.

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