Los Angeles Times

DVD Review: 'The Sopranos: Season Six, Volume 1'

Maybe it's because we all knew this was the beginning of the end, but it seemed that a lot of "Sopranos" fans were expecting more from the show's sixth season.

David Chase, who created the series, isn't having it, sarcastically noting in his commentary track on the season finale, "Kaisha," that "The Sopranos" is "the famous show where nothing happens," before pointing out, in the episode's first five minutes, nothings like a wiseguy stuffing someone's severed head into a sewer and the torching of Phil Leotardo's (Frank Vincent) wire room.

Such is the nature, I guess, of creating one of the most acclaimed -- and, in turn, scrutinized -- shows in television history.

A second viewing the season, which HBO is calling "Volume 1" (with next year's final eight episodes making up Volume 2), does reveal a lot of setup without big payoffs on the order of, say, Ralphie Cifaretto losing his head or the marital disintegration that ended the show's fourth season. But it also highlights the nuanced work the show did in telling some smaller stories, whether it be Tony's (James Gandolfini) recovery from being shot, Christopher's (Michael Imperioli) slide back into addiction or Carmela's (Edie Falco) ongoing struggle to deny what her husband really does for a living.

And, as Chase and writer Matthew Weiner point out in fairly insightful commentary tracks, nothing on "The Sopranos" happens without a reason. So when Weiner points out in his commentary on "Luxury Lounge" (probably the season's most amusing episode) that "it's important to note that Tony knows the Middle Eastern guys," you begin to relish the possible directions that thread could go in the final batch of shows.

Members of the cast offer commentary on two other episodes, including the brilliant "Join the Club" episode for which Falco was robbed of an Emmy nomination. That episode alone is worth a decent fraction of the retail price on this set -- and besides, taking another look at the season is a good way both to steel yourself for the inevitable end of the show and remind yourself that even when whackings are few and far between, "The Sopranos" has a lot more going on than just about any other show on television.

EXTRAS: Commentary on episodes "Join the Club," "Luxury Lounge," "The Ride" and "Kaisha."
PRICE: $99.98

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