Saturday, January 10, 2004

I had seen every episode of the first three season of The Sopranos except one: "The Pine Barrens," the one that's much acclaimed, well beloved, praised to the skies, worshiped from afar, choose your own promotional blurb. So I rented just the DVD for that--I'd probably buy all the sets if they weren't so darned expensive; the first season is four discs for $92 while the first season of, say, Alias is six discs for $70 or the fifth season of Buffy (perhaps the single greatest season of any TV show) which is six discs for $60--but ended up not completely blown away by "The Pine Barrens." Eh, you know, who cares?

But I decided that there were two audio commentaries so why not give them a try? Steve Buscemi's for "The Pine Barrens" was pretty tedious. He apparently loves working with every single actor in the series, very nearly claims to have no creative input and frequently sounds like a grade-schooler presenting a report (in fact he actually sounds at times like he's reading the commentary). I gave up halfway through, especially after he said he didn't know what happened to the Russian in the episode. The other commentary was David Chase on "Amour Fou" (why not the correctly spelled "L'Amour Fou"?) and it's the sort of thing you'd hope all commentaries are. Chase is conversational but focused as he gives background info on things like the show's writing staff, technical details or criticisms of various aspects. Much more interesting are his views on the characters and how they're developed through story and dialogue. In a way, his commentary is almost like a mini-workshop that deepens the episode instead of closing off interpretations.