'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

The title is a reference to the common anxiety dream about showing up naked to school on test day. Chase said he has his own version of this dream, about directing. He'd be asked repeatedly if he were ready to film a scene, and he'd reassure them. But then, "I would get there to shoot the scene, and I wouldn't even have read it. It was a scene in a script I'd missed. So I knew nothing about how to direct it."



In the gut-punch of an episode that kicked off the final stretch of "The Sopranos," Tony and Carmela visit Tony's sister Janice (Aida Turturro) and her husband, Bobby (Steve Schirripa), at their lake house in the Adirondacks for Tony's 47th birthday. But a seemingly idyllic weekend of fishing and karaoke turns sour when Bobby and Tony get into a fight during a drunken round of Monopoly.

Tony metes out revenge on Bobby by ordering him to carry out a hit -- a devastating turn for the (relatively) gentle gangster. When the episode screened at Radio City Music Hall, Chase said he cried at the scene when Bobby returns from carrying out the hit and is embraced by his young daughter.

"Soprano Home Movies" dealt with themes of mortality and comeuppance that would occupy the final stretch of "The Sopranos," and it included a prescient conversation about the need to build a wall to keep immigrants out of the country.

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The episode came about "because we wanted to save money," Chase said. "We wanted to do a bottle show" -- an episode where the bulk of the action is contained to a single setting -- "with four of them in a cabin somewhere."

"When I was working the early days of TV, every series would do a bottle episode once a year," said Chase, who worked on network shows including "The Rockford Files." "They were considered cheap. They were awful. We kind of wanted to do 1/8this episode3/8 as a spoof of that." There was also a desire to write an episode with the intimacy and gently rising tension of a play.

Ironically, "Soprano Home Movies" turned out to be "vastly expensive" because of the waterfront location, "but I love those four people spending time together," Chase said. "It gave me an answer to the question of what criminals do when they're just having a family outing."



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