Ciao Tony.

Sad news last night on the passing of James Gandolfini. Just 51 years old. Likely heart attack.

He will be remembered for the iconic role of Tony Soprano. He should be. I told someone today that “The Sopranos” is among the top five dramas to ever air on television. It may be the best. For me, only “Lost” even comes close in comparison to “The Sopranos.” There’s two very different shows, but that’s a discussion for another post.

“The Sopranos” wasn’t great because of its subject matter, but sometimes in spite of it. Although it was a show focused on the mafia, its real focus was on its characters and more specifically, Tony Sopranos. In how many shows could you go from loving the main character, to hating him. I didn’t watch the show when it was on HBO. I bought the DVD set a few years after it aired and watched it the whole way through. Tony Soprano was such as complex character, was he a good guy trapped by his circumstances, or a bad guy who merely went through the motions of appearing good? You never really knew. It always seemed like just when Soprano seemed to show signs of morality, he’d order or so something completely reprehensible.

How does it compare to Michael Corleone, the other great character of America’s mob cinema. Michael started wholesome, think, “That’s my family, not me.” By the end of the saga, does anyone think there’s good left in him? Yes, there’s the constant search for legitimacy for the family, but good? No.

You always thought, deep inside, there was some good in Tony Soprano. At least I did. Chalk that up to the complex, great performance by Gandolfini.