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The Sopranos

The Sopranos by Dana Polan The Sopranos
Your Price: $25.95 CDN
Author: Dana Polan
Publisher: Duke University Press
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 218
Pub. Date: 2009
ISBN-10: 0822344106
ISBN-13: 9780822344100

About the Book:

"In its original run on HBO, 'The Sopranos' mattered, and it matters still," Dana Polan asserts early in this analysis of the hit show, in which he sets out to clarify the impact and importance of the series in both its cultural and media-industry contexts.

A renowned film and TV scholar, Dana Polan combines a close and extended reading of the show itself—and of select episodes and scenes—with broader attention to the social landscape with which it is in dialogue. For Polan, The Sopranos is a work of playful irony that complicates simplistic attempts to grasp its meanings and values. The show seductively beckons the viewer into an amoral universe, hinting at ways to make sense of its ethically complicated situations, only to challenge the viewer's complacent grasp of things. It deftly exploits the interplay between art culture and popular culture by mixing elements of art cinema—meandering plots, narrative breaks, and an uncertain progression—with the allure of a soap opera, delving into its characters' sex lives, mob rivalries, and parent–child conflicts.

A show about corrupt figures who parasitically try to squeeze illicit profit from the system, The Sopranos itself seems a target of attempts to glom on to its fame as a successful TV series: attempts by media executives, marketers, critics and writers, and even presidential candidates. "Everyone wants a piece of 'Sopranos' action," says Polan, and he traces the marketing of the series across both official and unauthorized media platforms, including cookbooks, games, DVDs, and the kitschy Sopranos bus tour. Critiquing previous books on The Sopranos, Dana Polan suggests that in their quest to find deep meaning, many of the authors missed the show's ironic and comedic side.

What people say:

"An engaging and lucid account of the influential cultural status that HBO's 'The Sopranos' achieved by allowing diverse artistic and commercial interests to profitably converge in the postnetwork era. The book is distinctive in detailing not just how fans and critics animated the series, but also how HBO and the producers carefully crafted an epic narrative that would lead to a profitable ancillary afterlife. Dana Polan proves that close, careful narrative analysis can provide prescient insights about television's increasingly sophisticated practices to which broader cultural and industrial accounts are blind." — John Thornton Caldwell, author of Production Culture: Industrial Reflexivity and Critical Practice in Film and Television

"Rather than going along with the familiar judgment that 'The Sopranos' stood above and apart from the usual run of mass-cultural fare, Polan reads it as continuous with both the traditions of genre television and the hierarchy-scrambling protocols of the postmodern condition... Polan's book is often insightful about the visual dimension of 'The Sopranos'...." — Scott McLemee, for Inside Higher Ed

About the Author:

Dana Polan is Professor of Cinema Studies in the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University (NYU). He is the author of several books including The Sopranos, In a Lonely Place (BFI Film Classics) and Jane Campion (BFI World Directors).

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