That which does not kill you, makes you stronger.

Or not.  All during the first season of The Sopranos, Tony’s mother plotted with his uncle to kill him.  After Nancy Marchand, the actress who played Tony’s mother, died, the series never recovered the dramatic tension that kept us riveted during the first season.  After the second season was so lacking in energy, I said I wouldn’t watch The Sopranos again.  Then HBO started its PR hype about the pending third season and I watched again, hoping it would become as good as the first.  It didn’t.  That happened year after year.  I was a sucker every time.  Those Russian gangsters stayed lost in the wilds of New Jersey for years.  I kept saying that maybe we’ll find out this year.  Not to be.  The only redemption came in the series finale that left us wondering whether Tony was going to be whacked in front of his family at the diner, while Journey pounded out “Don’t stop believin’.”  That song fits how they conned their audience season after season.

When The Sopranos started, I was working with an Italian-American woman who was quite offended by the way her people were portrayed in the series.  I wonder what she would think of Gomorah, the Italian series that just concluded its third season on Sundance.  The violence, venality, and crass materialism of Naples and Rome grossly surpassed anything in New Jersey.  Despite that, Gomorah kept you watching, not with the false promises of PR hype, but with real murderous tensions between generations in the Savastano family.

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