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Book Review: If You Like The Sopranos: Here Are Over 150 Movies, TV Shows, and Other Oddities That You Will Love by Leonard Pierce

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Of all the classic takes on the Mob, be them in the movies or on television – The Sopranos holds a special place. The show revolutionized both the way the Mafia is presented, and the very nature of TV itself. If You Like The Sopranos: Here Are Over 150 Movies, TV Shows, and Other Oddities That You Will Love is part of the If You Like series from Limelight Books. As the title suggests, this is book contains a number various films and shows that fans of The Sopranos may be interested in.

That description is the short version of what this book is all about. What If You Like The Sopranos really provides is something of a timeline, which traces the evolution of the media’s treatment of the Mafa through the twentieth century and beyond. We begin with the early movies such as Little Caesar (1931) and the original Scarface (1932). Author Leonard Pierce draws the parallels between Tony Soprano, and the characters played by Edward G. Robinson, and James Cagney in these pre-Code films.

The rise of Film Noir is next discussed, and as Pierce points out, the show had plenty of Noir-ish moments – especially in the dream sequences. The code of an outlaw family was the next big development, played out in movies such as Bonnie and Clyde (1967), and of course The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather Part II (1974), not to mention GoodFellas (1990).

The developments in television are also scrutinized, from the obvious The Untouchables, to the rise of the nighttime soaps. The rise of the running “story-arc” of such hits as Dallas and Dynasty in the eighties was a huge factor in establishing the format of The Sopranos. Perhaps most importantly was the development of HBO itself, without which – a series like The Sopranos would never have existed. As Pierce sees it, a perfect storm came together to spawn the show, and the timing of the debut in 1999 could not have been better.

After a discussion of The Sopranos itself, Pierce goes on to explore serial television post-Tony. These include such critical favorites as Deadwood, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad. The final chapter is titled “Welcome To America: Crime Drama For A New Millennium.” This intriguing section concerns other media, such as games (Grand Theft Auto), music (A Prince Among Theives by Prince Paul) and even books (the Underworld USA trilogy by James Ellroy).

As advertised, If You Like The Sopranos talks about a great number of films and TV shows (for the most part) that fans of the program should find interesting. There is a lot of good information packed into this relatively concise book.

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