The Sopranos premiered on January 10, 1999, and television did not change forever — or rather, not right away. Though its treatment of the life of mid-level New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano drew large numbers of dedicated viewers right away, few could have imagined during the show’s eight-year run how completely its success would eventually rewrite the rules of dramatic TV. More than twenty years later, nearly all of us place the beginning of our ongoing televisual “golden age” at the broadcast of The Sopranos’ first episode. You can hear that epoch-making 50 minutes discussed in depth on the first episode of the new podcast Talking Sopranos (YouTube — Apple — Spotify), whose hosts Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa know the series more intimately than most — not least because they were on it.
Fans know Imperioli and Schirripa as Tony’s protégé Christopher Moltisanti and Tony’s brother-in-law Bobby Baccalieri. On Talking Sopranos they “follow the Sopranos series episode by episode giving fans all the inside info, behind the scenes stories and little-known facts that could only come from someone on the inside,” announces the podcast’s description, which also promises “interviews with additional cast members, producers, writers, production crew and special guests.”
Among these voices there is, of course, one sizable absence: star James Gandolfini, Tony Soprano himself, who died in 2013. But it shows promise that, just fourteen episodes in, the podcast has already brought on Edie Falco, who played Tony’s wife Carmela; Robert Iler, their son A.J. Soprano; Jamie-Lynn Sigler, their daughter Meadow Soprano; and Michael Rispoli, the first season’s short-lived Jackie Aprile Sr.
None of these actors would have made their mark on the show without the work of casting directors Georgianne Walken and Sheila Jaffe, who also make an appearance on the podcast, as does co-executive producer and sometime director Henry Bronchtein. You can download Talking Sopranos on its web site, subscribe to it on Apple Podcasts and elsewhere, or even watch it on Youtube. If you’d like to supplement all this with an even greater wealth of detail, pick up a copy of Matt Zoller Seitz and Alan Sepinwall’s book The Sopranos Sessions, an episode-by-episode analysis featuring interviews with figures including series creator David Chase. Never has there been a better time to do a Sopranos re-watch of your own — and if you never watched it in the first place, well, better a couple of decades late than never.
Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.