Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

An Old Debate Has Helped Build Character

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

An Old Debate Has Helped Build Character

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Soergel, Times-Union staff writer

Back in 1997, I engaged in a print debate with my noted colleague, Charlie Patton, over the merits of movies vs. TV.

Charlie was then writing copiously and learnedly about TV. So he was stuck with the unenviable task of arguing that what was on TV was actually better than what was available in movie theaters!

Despite the fact that Charlie knows more about more things than any person has a right to, I whipped him thoroughly, debate-wise, as you might imagine.

But if we had that movies vs. TV debate these days, he'd be able to muster a much, much better argument.

And I, in defending film over TV, might even have to break a little sweat.

That's all because of HBO's The Sopranos.

I'd heard all the hype, of course, but until recently had never seen it. That's because TV's such a wasteland -- and I'm such a cheapskate -- that I spring for cable TV only when it's time for a certain worldwide quadrennial sporting event involving the world's greatest sport.

But I've been working my way through the recent DVD release of the Sopranos third season, and I have to confess: This is great stuff, some of it as good as the best that film has to offer.

The Sopranos has dry humor, twisty plot lines, a notable cast of supporting palookas, and Edie Falco's unmatched Carmela Soprano.

I'm still catching up with all its complexities, but it's a pleasure to do so. It's hard to stop watching, for many reasons -- but mostly because of its central figure, James Gandolfini's Tony Soprano.

He's the conflicted mob boss/frustrated father/neglectful, adulterous husband/guilty son/harried businessman.

As all those subcategories show, he is one complex individual. He's not all good, though you sense he could be quite good if it weren't for the family business in which he finds himself. …

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