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113 of 124 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2003
Where the first season covered Tony's relationship with his mother and that relationship causing him to see a therapist; the second season went more along the lines of him as a brother; the third season was based on Tony and Carmela as parents and of course, this fourth season was highly focused on their marriage, all coming to an incredible head in the final episode.
I've heard several people say that the third and fourth seasons weren't as strong and as "biting" as the first two seasons, I couldn't disagree more. This fourth season is an extremely intense season and is just as dramatically compelling and enthralling as the previous three. Very few dramatic series can even compare to The Sopranos where it entertains on all levels, from gripping drama to dead pan humorous moments.
Combining the continued elements of extraordinary writing, superior direction and exceptional acting all make this fourth season another resounding success in the Sopranos series and a long wait until March of 2004 for the fifth season to kicks in.
Episode synopsises:
For all Debts Public and Private - A slowing economy has even effected even Tony's "thing" and Carmela is worried about the family's long term financial security and wishes to acquire some "traditional" investments; Tony gives Christopher a "gift" that he never would've expected; Junior is fretting over his upcoming trial and Adriana makes a dangerous new friend.
No-Show - With Paulie behind bars, Christopher gets acting captain stripes and his crew isn't too happy about it and Paulie starts to feel betrayed, bringing his loyalty to question; Meadow decides that she wants to take a year off of school and go to Europe, much to her parents chagrin; Adriana ends her relationship with Danielle only to find herself in a much more dangerous relationship.
Christopher - Junior's trial becomes the first trial for the family in sixteen years; upcoming protests against Columbus day by Native Americans has put a hair in Silvio's "breakfast" causing some interesting results; Bobby loses his wife and Janice starts to make her moves and Paulie's loose lips are causing major troubles for Tony with Johnny Sack.
The Weight - A terrible remark about Johnny's wife "gets" back to him and he goes on a bloodthirsty quest for revenge which in the end brings both he and Ralph to the brink; Carmela and Furio begin to develop a more than interesting relationship and she and Tony continue to argue over their financial future.
Pie O My - Ralph buys a race horse and invites Tony to the track and he suddenly finds a relationship similar to that which he had with the ducks in the first season and Adrianna becomes even more paranoid about her new friends when Christopher and the rest of the family starts using her club to conduct business.
Everybody Hurts - Artie and Tony's relationship takes a new swing when Artie borrows money from Tony and the deal goes sour; Tony informs Christopher of his plan for the new chain of command but he's unaware of Christopher's ever increasing drug problem and Tony finds out what happened to Gloria which enrages him.
Watching Too Much Television - Paulie is out of jail and he's holding a few grudges; Carmela's cousin Brian gives Tony some real estate advice that will continue to have repercussions throughout the rest of the season and Carmela and Furio continue to suppress their feelings for one another.
Mergers & Acquisitions - Ralph introduces his new girlfriend Valentina to Tony and she's offers to introduce him to a painter and then some, leading Tony to find out more about Ralph than he wanted to know; Furio goes home to Italy to bury his father and reevaluate his life and Carmela finds a new source of income, right in her own back yard.
Whoever Did This - Junior comes up with a new defense strategy and Svetlana makes a return as his caregiver; Ralph's son suffers a tragedy causing him to make a fatal decision over his horse which brings about a heated argument between him and Tony where Ralph "loses" his head...
The Strong, Silent Type - Carmela begins to offer Furio decorating tips; Christopher's heroine addiction has tragic results for Adrianna's pooch causing everybody to have a hilarious interdiction for him.
Call all Cars - This is another one of those ethereal episodes where Tony's dreams pervade the episode; Tony has a sit down that doesn't go well with Carmine and Johnny over the real estate venture; Johnny continues to erode Paulie's loyalty; Tony sees Carmine's son in hopes of working out their problems and Tony is coming close to quitting the therapy.
Eloise - Tony is continuing to haggle with Carmine and Johnny over the Esplanade profit loss/real estate scam; Carmela and Furio's relationship comes to a head and Furio comes very close to an "ultimate" decision with Tony; everybody starts to question Paulie's loyalty and Meadow invites her parents to her apartment for dinner and an interesting conversation ensues.
Whitecaps - In this extraordinarily dramatic season finale; Carmela is suffering a broken heart; Tony attempts to keep the family together by buying a beachfront home which almost brings Carmela out of her doldrums until a fateful phone call from one of Tony's former girlfriends; everybody is loosing money on the Esplanade deal and Johnny makes a power play; and the Sopranos' marriage comes to a head, leaving everybody in great "anticipation" waiting until March of 2004 to see where this goes... {ssintrepid}
Episode list:
For all Debts Public and Private
The Weight
Pie O My
Everybody Hurts
Watching Too Much Television
Mergers & Acquisitions
Whoever Did This
The Strong, Silent Type
Call all Cars
Special Features:
- 4 Audio Commentaries with writers Terence Winter, Michael Imperioli, Robin Green, Mitchell Burgess and series creator David Chase
- Episodic previews and recaps
- Recaps of seasons 1, 2 and 3
- Cast/Crew biographies
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72 of 79 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2003
While the death count has steadily decreased in subsequent seasons, The Sopranos is not going soft, but rather evolving. In the first season, everything was put together. In number two, an emphasis was placed on Tony's business: busting out, poker games, scams, power struggles, traders, etc. In season 3, the series showed it is not prone to repetition. Instead of Ralph becoming another Richie, his ability to make money kept him alive.
Now the fourth and still not the last season. Seemingly every episode ended with an uncomfortable shot of Tony and Carmela alone together, but still apart: In bed with Carmela facing away, in the kitchen with Tony leaning on the couch, in the bathroom with Carmela in the tub. And after all this, Tony bought "Whitecaps", his way of saying that he wanted to keep his family together forever. But Carmela saw it as just "a bigger version of a diamond ring." As Dean Martin sings at the end of the finale, "It's because, my girl's right here."
Then the demise of Ralph, foreshadowed when Jonny Sack comments "I should have let Tony cut your head off last year." Ralph was kept around only because of money and when he hands Tony an envelope and says "At least I'm good for something," Tony can't help but agree. And when Ralph is being `silenced' by Tony in `Whoever Did This', Tony comments "She was a beautiful creature, what did she ever do to you?" It becomes hazy whether he is referring to Pie-O-My or Tracy when he sees her picture at the Bing. The "thousand incidents with that guy" finally catch up to Ralph.
By the end of the season, Tony has a business predicament that will likely be settled somehow in season 5. Tony has conspired with Carmine to kill Jonny Sack, and negotiated with Jonny to kill Carmine. It is unclear by season's end exactly who knows what and who is being set up.
The biggest gripes from viewers seemed to be the oddness of the Carmela / Furio and Janice / Bacala storylines. I think more in depth viewing will help people to understand the subtleness of season 4. And mind you a lot of season 4 storylines will likely carry over into 5. The Sopranos is ongoing, and doesn't play by the national network `close all storylines in the finale and leave one cliffhanger' rule.
My biggest beef was HBO's ruining the finale with posting online that Uncle Junior's would get a mistrial and showing in the trailer a black SUV being shot into. Of course when it aired and a black SUV pulled up, any element of shock was completely ruined.
Season 4 is very deep and intriguing, and has taken me dozens of viewings to understand underlying themes, and will take many more to grasp them all and catch all the jokes (like Tony feeling like the 'Reverend Rodney King Jr.') Hopefully the DVD and its audio commentary will help. Like what was Tony's `Italian Immigrant' dream suppose to mean?
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2003
This show has done none of things that TV shows normally do at this point. ie. repeat itself, slip into formula, strain credibility ("jump the shark" as the popular saying goes), etc... I really don't know how Creator David Chase & company keep it up? Talent, creative freedom, and dedication, I suppose.
I didn't find this 4th season to be as emotionally devastating as the previous 3 (though it has its moments), but it is still very strong! The acting is, amazingly, better than it's ever been, and several episodes rank among the best ("The Weight," "Whoever Did This," "Whitecaps"). James Gandolfini gives Tony Soprano some his most compelling scenes yet, and in the x-tra long season finale, Edie Falco simply rises to new heights. Joe Pantoliano as Ralph Cifaretto, who surprised everyone by surviving the 3rd season, is back & provides some welcome wicked humor & hidden depths.
The finale is very satisfying, but several very important plot lines are left unresolved. We can only assume the 5th, and reportedly last, season will resolve them in some fashion. Regardless, the twists and turns involving Ralphie's new race horse Pie O' My, Chris' decent into heroin addiction, Carmela's attraction to one of her husband's deadly henchmen, Johnny Sack's love for his very heavy wife, and Tony's sometimes impulsive womanizing all pay off in wonderful & unexpeted ways.
The 5th season is eagerly awaited, to be sure. If it can match #4, it will be a strong finish indeed for this dark saga.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2006
Upon its original airing, the fourth season of The Sopranos provoked a vocal and hostile response from the show's fans. Nothing happens, they would complain. The episodes wander aimlessly from one to the next. Plot lines are brought up and then dropped. Nobody gets whacked.

Viewers watching during its original airing can be excused for so thinking. Viewed one episode at a time, one week at a time, it was easy to feel dragged along. It is no secret that The Sopranos wasn't built to last and was never really intended to go on past three seasons; once its original conceit was used up, David Chase and the writers needed to find a new direction.

As a result, Season Four has no overarching plot lines, such as Tony's rivalries with Junior or Ritchie, or clearly delineated character arcs like the downfall of Jackie Jr. or Tony's doomed relationship with Gloria. Instead, much of the "mafia" story was dedicated to getting us better acquainted with the Soprano family's relationship with Johnny Sack, Carmine, and New York (storylines that pay off dividends in Season Five). Moreover, from the very first episode, "For All Debts Public and Private," Season Four has a sense of impending, post-9/11 dread; every week gave viewers the sense that something "big" was about to happen -- that Tony would discover Paulie "talking out of school," that the Feds would put the screws into Adrianna, that Carmela would consummate her flirtations with Furio -- but it never did. And when a major character did meet his untimely end, it came as an inevitability rather than a release. The buildup of tension that was never released undoubtedly led to the frustration of many viewers.

Still, on a second viewing, with Season Five behind us and without the suspense of waiting to find out what happens next, Season Four plays remarkably well. On DVD, unbound from the constraints serial-viewing and the weekly suspense of waiting for a new episode, the pace of the season improves dramatically, and the richness of each episode becomes apparent. "No Show" contrasts Meadow's post-adolescent ennui with Christopher's "learning curve" as acting capo. "Everybody Hurts" and "Watching Too Much Television" are two of the best self-contained episodes of the series. In addition to genuine suspense, "The Weight" shows us Johnny Sack's genuine affection for his overweight wife, foreshadowing events between Tony and Carmela. "Eloise" puts the finishing touches on the portrait of Carmela's bourgeois hell-of-her-own-creation touched on in "Second Opinion" and "Amour Fou" (both Season Three). The finale, "Whitecaps," plays out like a 75-minute version of Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage; it's the most brutal episode of the series (despite the fact that no regular character is expended), with Gandolfini and Falco giving two of the most devastating performances on television. Even the season's one true clunker "Christopher" -- a misguided course in Identity Politics 101 -- plays much better when you're not expecting anything more.

In Season Four, we were still learning how to watch The Sopranos and learning the demands it places on the viewer. Like life, it's messy. Entropy and inertia triumph over the artifice of resolution and the fiction of "closure." Conflicts are not resolved; they fester. What seemed desperately important one day is crowded out by new pressures and priorities. But this direction should be reason for celebration, not criticism. If the series doesn't conform to audience expectations, aren't we the better for it? In the 70s, they had a term for movies that didn't adopt standard notions of narrative form: they called them "Art Films."

In the final analysis, if Season Four does not live up to prior seasons, it is only because Seasons One, Two, and Three set the bar so high. (Compare Season 4 and the comparable season of, say, ER and then get back to me.) Rather than trying to carry on as a pale imitation of its predecessors, in Season Four the series evolves in a new direction, demanding more of the viewer, but proving why The Sopranos is the best show in the history of television.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2003
I sure hope Dietmar is teaching something other than art, literature, or spelling.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2004
I am not going to give an episode-by-episode retelling of the season. I will tell why this season is different and why it got some bad press. Everyone knows that The Sopranos broke all the rules and set the bar high for itself, for HBO, and for TV in general. The first three seasons were marked with intensity, vulgarity, and, most importantly, violence. Season 4 did have violence in it (perhaps one of the most violent episode, in fact) yet the intensity was one of a different kind. Remember that this was the first season to come out after the events of September 11th. This season is a progression into the lives of the Soprano family, and ultimately their subsequent crumbling. Season 4 is The Sopranos as family drama, a hat it wears well. Regardless of what popular opinion has said, there is no disputing that there are major rumblings in the fourth season; anyone interested in the series cannot ignore the fact that this season is pivotal in that it will help the show's momentum in its final years.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2006
By the time "The Sopranos" entered its fourth season, it had solidified its standing as a "weekly event". There aren't many television shows in the 50+ years of television history that can be put into this category. A "weekly event" show basically has everyone talking about the episode the next day. In the 1980s, shows such as "Dallas" and "Dynasty" were "weekly events". In the 1990s, "Seinfeld" would take emerge as the show that would become a "weekly event". As Seinfeld wound up, another show would soon take that title into the 21st century - that show being HBO's "The Sopranos". The first two seasons of the show not only established a show of high entertainment value, but a show that also was of high quality. While the third season of the show was still good, I felt it fell short when compared to the first two years. However, on "The Sopranos - The Complete Fourth Season", the show comes back with a vengeance - having its most solid season both quality and entertainment-wise from start to finish.

The show focuses on an organized Italian-American crime family that is based in North Jersey. The main character of the show is Tony Soprano played brilliantly by James Gandolfini. Tony is the head of the fictional DiMeo crime family. On the show, we see Tony try to balance his "work" in the DiMeo crime family with his home life. Tony has suffered from panic attacks and depression and therefore sees a psychiatrist - Dr. Jennifer Melfi (played by Lorraine Bracco).

Previous seasons of the Sopranos have had slow starts and weak finales. However Season 4 gets off to a very quick start and keeps you hooked throughout the year. Season 4 does a great job in the finale at tying together many of the storylines that had been prevalent throughout the year. Here are some of the key storylines from Season 4:

Here are some of the key storylines from Season 4

1-Friction begins to develop between the New Jersey DiMeo crime family and a New York crime family that the DiMeo's have been traditionally on good-terms with. The show does a good job at building up the rivalry.

2-Tony is continuing to have extra-martial affairs and it will continue to bother Carmela Soprano (played by Edie Falco). In the meantime, an attraction develops between Carmela and one of Tony's "men", Furio Giunta (played by Federico Castelluccio). Overall, I was a little disappointed the way the attraction played out between Carmela and Furio, but I was pleased that Furio got an expanded role this year.

3-While solidifying himself as a part of Tony's "inner circle" of Made Men, Christopher Moltisanti (played by Michael Imperioli) is going to develop a very serious drug problem.

4-Christopher's fiancée Adriana La Cerva (played by Drea De Matteo) is going to develop a friendship with a woman posing as an undercover FBI agent. This is eventually going to cause major personal agony for Adriana.

5- Meadow Soprano (played by Jamie-Lynn Sigler) is going to continue to be at College. She is going to have to rebound from the death of Jackie Aprile, Jr. and eventually falls for a Dental Student. Meanwhile, Anthony Soprano Jr. (played by Robert Iller) is going to start to see girlfriend of his own.

6- Joe Pantoliano continues his outstanding portrayal of Tony's "Capo" Ralph (Ralphie) Cifaretto. Ralphie is going to start to see Janice Soprano (played by Aida Turturro) and begin to have some friction with the New York Crime family. We get to see another side of Ralphie when he his son is injured.

7-Uncle Junior is going have a new health problem. Most of his role during Season 4 is going to involve his long-awaited racketeering trial.

8-Dr.Melfi's role seems more insignificant than ever. While Tony continues his therapy into Season 4, once again the opportunity to expand her character and integrate her into the show fails.

9-Investments are going to play a major theme during Season 4 for the the Soprano family. Tony and Carmela are going to consider personal investments, Tony's going to look at some business investments - and these are going to play a role in the friction with the New York Crime Family.

10-Paulie Walnuts (played by Tony Sirico) starts out slow as he is in jail and seen seldom in the early episodes of Seaon 4. Paulie will surface, but won't quite have the high level of humor that he had during Seasons 1 to 3. Much of Season 4 will focus on Paulie's continued friction with Tony and his relationship with the New York Crime Family.

11-Bobby "Bacala" (played by Steven R. Schrippa) is also going to have an expanded role. Bobby is going to go through personal hard ache with his family and eventually get involved with Janice Soprano.

Here are some other points to consider from Season 4:

- As mentioned, the Season finale ranks among the show's best. Gandolfini and Falco give awesome performances in that finale.

- The episode involving Christopher Columbus and whether he is a hero or not is one of the best. It shows why this show is one of the most innovative ones on television.

- Next to the Finale and Columbus episode, the other episode that is "can't miss" is the episode in which Ralphie's son is injured.

- The music of the Sopranos continues to be a major part of the show. This season is no exception as the music is terrific.

As for the DVD packaging - besides the usual extras, one thing I really liked was how there was a brief textual synopsis provided on the screen before playing the episode. Overall, I do think this was the best season of the show to date. Clearly the show continues to maintain its status as a "television event". This show is a must-see for Sopranos fans. New fans will also enjoy it, but should see the first three seasons first.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2003
Tony Soprano is almost a Shakespearean tragic hero. His meteoric rise through the first season has been matched by a slow descent. Through the fourth season, we continue to see this, as those who Tony relied upon (in business, or emotionally, or otherwise) fall away through death, or abandonment (by Tony or the other person).
This DVD set contains the 13 episodes of the fourth season, together with commentary from writers, actors, and David Chase. Unfortunately, only a few of the episodes have such commentary, and the choice of episodes is open to question (episode 4-11, with Tony's dreams, needs interpretation from an authoritative source). The "trailers" at the beginning and end of each episode are also included (i.e., "Previously on the Sopranos", etc.)
All of the regular actors shine, and the bit players are, as always, very well cast.
The quality of most of the episodes is high, perhaps higher than any but the first season. But as the number of planned seasons has gone from four, to five, and now to six, I wonder if the purity of David Chase's vision has not been invaded by fluff. Well, we won't know until the series ends, I suppose.
Highly recommended.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2003
okay, this season is hard to talk about (heck, they all are but earlier ones for different reasons, ie lack of befitting superlatives); no, this fourth season is heartbreaking-and not just for carmela and tony. watching the series in one fell swoop the problems are even more jarring. it's like an entire episode is missing from the set. plots begin and end without lead-ins or follow-ups. i don't know if there were production or cast problems early in the season but it sure seems like there were. christopher in rehab-never touched once, come on, that screams to be shown (cold turkey days, interacting at group, the steps). ralphie and janice-starts like a whim (not how the plotting soprano sis usually operates) ends with a whimper. meadow just moves into an apartment? with two other roommates the parents never meet?? and one of them is a guy (who, much to tony's chagrin, is not gay)??? and she's suddenly in love with a new fellow without so much as a mention?! as for all the complaining about the season being boring due to a lack of killing, this is just stupid. there's plenty of entertaining beatings and murders; as well as some inspired monologues (Colombus day and Syvetlana come to mind). the episodes' problems are that the pacing and plotting is off. it is as if they were completing the writing throughout filming of the season which is certainly not how the previous, almost operatic and finely-tuned, seasons felt. on the plus side the last two eps are up there in the pantheon and compared to other tv shows this season rates a four.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2003
I still don't understand people who don't like the 4th season of the Sopranos. They completely miss the whole point of the show and that is we are watching a show about a mobster and his family and friends. Do you think in the real mob it is constant whackings and shootings, no they have real problems and real issues, hence Tony seeing Dr. Melfi. That is the brilliance of the show we get to see the inner workings of the mob even if it be just sitting down for Sunday dinner. The fourth season had some great performances and the setup for the next two season's is great. Especially with the future of Christopher and his rising stock that could be a disaster down the road. A great season and I can't wait till season 5 I am sure it won't disappoint it hasn't yet for me.
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