Off the Back of a Truck: Unofficial Contraband for the Sopranos Fan

Tiller: S. & S. Dec. 2020. 368p. ISBN 9781982139063. $26.99. TV
Twenty years after the premiere of The Sopranos, HBO’s pioneering show about depressed and anxious New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano, producer and director Braccia has gathered his friends and fellow fans together for a fast-paced, highly entertaining delve into the psychology of the show, its influences, and its profound mark on television history. Contributors reflect on such topics as the craft of the show, which includes the brilliant acting, artful cinematography, and the technique of dream sequences in many episodes. An enthralling chapter details the history of the real-life mob stories that influenced crimes committed by Tony and his cohorts. The section on food lists the show’s “Top Ten Food Moments” and includes a mouthwatering recipe for breakfast spaghetti. Contributors also break down the songs played throughout the series and evaluate the wardrobes. The deaths over the course of the series are rated by “narrative impact,” “killer performances,” and “element of surprise,” as well as by how “cinematic” they are. Braccia immerses himself in the culture, visiting New Jersey, interviewing a psychologist about the different therapy styles on the show and a professor on the Italian American experience, and attending the 2019 SopranoCon.
VERDICT This love letter to the show is a must-read for all Sopranos devotees and TV history aficionados.
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