'The Sopranos' at 20: Creator David Chase on the show's legacy and four key episodes

Meredith Blake, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

"You have made a fool of me for years," says Carmela, confessing that she'd fallen in love with Tony's Italian driver, Furio. Gandolfini and Falco both won Emmys for their performances in "Whitecaps," and it's not hard to see why.

"Whitecaps" "got a lot of stuff that was bothering me out of the way," Chase said, recalling how the fight scene was filmed at 3 a.m. "Carmela was way too passive for too many years. That was a real cathartic experience. It was also funny, as weird as it is, 1/8Carmela3/8 throwing 1/8Tony's3/8 golf clubs out the window."

The first in a long line of beleaguered antihero wives, Carmela was not exactly a shrinking violet, but, he added, "We had watched her as a TV audience, week after week after week, take ... from this guy, cheating on her and everything, and she didn't really do much about it except sulk and complain."



Starting in the series pilot when Tony told Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) about a dream in which a bird stole his penis, "The Sopranos" frequently explored its protagonist's subconscious.

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"Orson Welles said a film is a ribbon of dreams, and that's the way I feel about it. When you're watching a movie, it feels like a dream and vice versa," said Chase.

"The Test Dream" took this to new heights, devoting about half of the episode's running time to an elaborate anxiety dream Tony has while holed up at the Plaza Hotel. The dream -- in which Tony runs from Lee Harvey Oswald, rides a horse indoors, visits with dead friends and foes and dines with Annette Bening -- ultimately forces the realization that he will have to kill his cousin, Tony Blundetto (Steve Buscemi).

Written by Chase and Matthew Weiner -- who went on to explore the dream life of Don Draper on "Mad Men" -- the episode comes at a pivotal crossroads in "The Sopranos," as the rivalry with the New York mafia is heating up and immediately before both Carmela and Tony's reconciliation and the murder of Adriana (Drea de Matteo).

"The Sopranos" did something difficult: It made viewers actually care about someone else's dreams. "It's not like somebody in your office saying, I had the craziest dream last night. You didn't ask for that, but you've asked to watch this show. You've invited yourself in," said Chase.


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