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  • The Sopranos

    Author(s): Dana Polan
    Published: 2009
    Pages: 232
    Illustrations: 29 illustrations
    Series: Spin Offs
  • Paperback: $22.95 - In Stock
    978-0-8223-4410-0
  • Cloth: $79.95 - In Stock
    978-0-8223-4392-9
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  • Acknowledgments  ix
    Prologue  1
    1. The Sopranos on Screen  17
    1. Watching The Sopranos  19
    2. Eight Million Stories in the Naked City  32
    3. Food for Thought  45
    4. Living in the Moment  56
    5. The Late Style of The Sopranos  63
    6. Gaming The Sopranos  72
    7. Getting High with The Sopranos  86
    8. Qualifying "Quality TV"  98
    9. "Honey, I'm Home"  105
    10. Against Interpretation  113
    11. New Jersey Dreaming  133
    2. The Sopranos in the Marketplace  143
    12. Tie-ins and Hangers-on  146
    13. Touring Postindustrialism  155
    14. Cashing In on the Game  162
    15. Cable and the Economics of Experimentation  174
    16. This Thing of Ours  194
    Notes  197
    Selected Bibliography  211
    Index  213
  • “[R]ich and comprehensive. . . full of surprising connections and comparisons.” — David Thorburn, Cinema Journal

    “Polan delimits an excellent set of features and motifs to analyze and, by and large, acquits himself well in his readings, as well as in their situation within the popular media.” — Charles J. Stivale, Criticism

    “Rather than going along with the familiar judgment that The Sopranos stood above and apart from the usual run of mass-cultural fare, Polan reads it as continuous with both the traditions of genre television and the hierarchy-scrambling protocols of the postmodern condition. . . . Polan’s book is often insightful about the visual dimension of the Sopranos. . .” — Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed

    “As a case study of the modern media environment, with its focus on synergy and the extension of media product across the expanse of the controlling conglomerate's subsidiaries, as well as into the popular culture of its audience(s), The Sopranos is a thoughtful and intensive tour de force.” — Michael R. Frontani, Italian American Review

    Reviews

  • “[R]ich and comprehensive. . . full of surprising connections and comparisons.” — David Thorburn, Cinema Journal

    “Polan delimits an excellent set of features and motifs to analyze and, by and large, acquits himself well in his readings, as well as in their situation within the popular media.” — Charles J. Stivale, Criticism

    “Rather than going along with the familiar judgment that The Sopranos stood above and apart from the usual run of mass-cultural fare, Polan reads it as continuous with both the traditions of genre television and the hierarchy-scrambling protocols of the postmodern condition. . . . Polan’s book is often insightful about the visual dimension of the Sopranos. . .” — Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed

    “As a case study of the modern media environment, with its focus on synergy and the extension of media product across the expanse of the controlling conglomerate's subsidiaries, as well as into the popular culture of its audience(s), The Sopranos is a thoughtful and intensive tour de force.” — Michael R. Frontani, Italian American Review

  • “An engaging and lucid account of the influential cultural status that HBO’s The Sopranos achieved by allowing diverse artistic and commercial interests to profitably converge in the postnetwork era. The book is distinctive in detailing not just how fans and critics animated the series, but also how HBO and the producers carefully crafted an epic narrative that would lead to a profitable ancillary afterlife. Dana Polan proves that close, careful narrative analysis can provide prescient insights about television’s increasingly sophisticated practices to which broader cultural and industrial accounts are blind.”—John Thornton Caldwell, author of Production Culture: Industrial Reflexivity and Critical Practice in Film and Television

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  • Description

    “In its original run on HBO, The Sopranos mattered, and it matters still,” Dana Polan asserts early in this analysis of the hit show, in which he sets out to clarify the impact and importance of the series in both its cultural and media-industry contexts. A renowned film and TV scholar, Polan combines a close and extended reading of the show itself—and of select episodes and scenes—with broader attention to the social landscape with which it is in dialogue. For Polan, The Sopranos is a work of playful irony that complicates simplistic attempts to grasp its meanings and values. The show seductively beckons the viewer into an amoral universe, hinting at ways to make sense of its ethically complicated situations, only to challenge the viewer’s complacent grasp of things. It deftly exploits the interplay between art culture and popular culture by mixing elements of art cinema—meandering plots, narrative breaks, and an uncertain progression—with the allure of a soap opera, delving into its characters’ sex lives, mob rivalries, and parent–child conflicts.

    A show about corrupt figures who parasitically try to squeeze illicit profit from the system, The Sopranos itself seems a target of attempts to glom on to its fame as a successful TV series: attempts by media executives, marketers, critics and writers, and even presidential candidates. “Everyone wants a piece of Sopranos action,” says Polan, and he traces the marketing of the series across both official and unauthorized media platforms, including cookbooks, games, DVDs, and the kitschy Sopranos bus tour. Critiquing previous books on The Sopranos, Polan suggests that in their quest to find deep meaning, many of the authors missed the show’s ironic and comedic side.

    About The Author(s)

    Dana Polan is Professor of Cinema Studies at the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. He is the author of several books including Scenes of Instruction: The Beginnings of the U.S. Study of Film, Jane Campion, Pulp Fiction, and Power and Paranoia: History, Narrative, and the American Cinema, 1940–1950.

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