With the first half of its sixth and final season, "The Sopranos" generated a previously unfamiliar reaction amongst its fan community: ambivalence. If viewers were left somewhat cold and disinterested by the season's beginning, the last nine episodes (separated from their predecessors by over a year) delivered all of the intrigue, power plays and whackings a fan could hope for, all leading up to a series finale that
Ha! Do you like what I did there? I left that sentence frustratingly incomplete, just like series creator David Chase did with "Made in America," the show's 86th and final episode. While some viewers looked at Chase's uncertain conclusion, complete with its Journey anthem and onion rings, as an appropriate ending for a show about a man whose life was forever shrouded in uncertainty, less open-minded fans have spent the past four months killing James Gandolfini's Tony Soprano in their own minds.
You can bring the ambiguity home on Tuesday (Oct. 22) when the bang-up sixth season (part 2) of "The Sopranos" premieres on DVD.
Viewers who want to revel in the ironic demise of Johnny Sack, Tony and Bobby's brawl, the first friends and family screening of "Cleaver," Paulie Walnuts' increasingly lonely and loopy behavior, Phil Leotardo's power play, AJ's spiral in and out of depression and Dr. Melfi's realizations about Tony's true character will get what they want out of the DVD set. Viewers who want Chase to show up and hold their hand through an explanation of whether or not "Camera Angle A" and "Editing Choice B" were indications that Tony was shot in the head by the guy at the diner counter will be sorely disappointed. Again.
Spread over four discs, the DVD set includes four commentary tracks, but none by any of the show's producers, writers and directors, nor by James Galdolfini, Edie Falco, Lorraine Bracco or Michael Imperioli. Instead, you get four commentary tracks from supporting players Steve Schirripa, Dominic Chianese, Robert Iler and Stevie Van Zandt, who delivers the best of the tracks teamed with Arthur Nascarella on the penultimate episode "The Blue Comet," one of the show's best and bloodiest episodes.
Van Zandt also plays a major role in the featurette "The Music of 'The Sopranos,'" a self-explanatory, but still interesting, doc focusing on the show's unique soundtrack. This is Chase's only contribution to the bonus featurettes, so it's good to hear him talk about everything from A3's indelible opening titles song to the individual choices for the closing credits of every episode. He doesn't go into any depth on why "Don't Stop Believing" was the perfect track to close the show for good, but did you really expect him to?
The only other featurette is "Making 'Cleaver,'" a standard five-minute making-of documentary about the Christopher's film-within-a-show exploitation horror movie. It'll mostly be interesting for grad students and other fans of post-modernism eager to launch into a debate on whether or not "Daniel Baldwin" is any more or less a real person than fellow interview subject "Christopher Moltisanti."