Singing The Sopranos’ praises

Tony Soprano
Tony Soprano

It may seem like an Olympian feat, but you must tear yourself away from the CBC’s endless and highly addictive coverage of the Olympics in Sydney.

Not to worry, you don’t have to leave the couch. Just flip over to the CTV where, each night at 10 for the next two weeks, you can catch the entire first season of the HBO phenomenon The Sopranos in all of its unedited and unabridged splendour.

Unless you have access to TMN or, somehow, HBO, then the only parts of this series, described by The New York Times as the greatest work of American pop culture in the last 25 years, that you have seen has been on award shows where The Sopranos, ironically, get robbed.

The Sopranos, written and conceived by David Chase, thrives on layered story lines that go beyond the often graphic violence, language and sexuality and deal with the personal toll that being a mobster or any other businessperson takes on their family life.

The first episode of the series, which appeared on Sunday night, is quite possibly one of the most perfectly crafted hours of television to ever flicker across TV sets.

One of the most unique aspects of The Sopranos is that their season is only thirteen episodes long. This has created a buzz that surrounds each episode and has helped the popularity of the series. Whereas it’s easy to tire of a network series that has 22 episodes spread across eight months filled with countless repeats that kill the flow.

However, nothing should be able to kill The Sopranos. Turn to counterSpin

With Canada due for a trip to the polls in the next year and our neighbours to the south gearing up for a Presidential vote in a month and a half, chances are your TV will be filled with pundits from this newspaper or that think tank screaming about something.

Almost every one of these segments makes for bad TV that neither resolves nor clarifies anything, unless you are watching counterSpin on CBC Newsworld (8pm and 11pm, Monday to Thursday).

Hosted by Avi Lewis, formerly host of The New Music on MuchMusic and a reporter for City TV in Toronto, counterSpin looks at issues ranging from the Canadian Alliance to celebrity to Burnt Church to Canadian films.

Combining a diverse and informed panel, a talkative studio audience and a laidback, almost disarming host, counterSpin is the rare news/information/talk show that actually delves into an issue going past the party line.

Expanded to an hour this season, counterSpin is actually entertaining. It provides a welcome break from the endless business reports and rehashing of top stories that comprise the programming on most news networks and is an absolute godsend if you, like me, are sick of the latest “This kitchen appliance may kill you” and true crime fluff on network newsmagazines.

Dan Rowe watches TV. Now he is going to try to write about it once a month.

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