Type keyword(s) to search

Features

Hein’s Picks: Sopranos Prequel The Many Saints of Newark Doesn’t Disappoint

PLUS: Attack of the Hollywood Cliches, The Problem With Jon Stewart and SNL.
  • Michael Gandolfini and Alessandro Nivola in The Many Saints of Newark (Photo: Warner Bros.)
    Michael Gandolfini and Alessandro Nivola in The Many Saints of Newark (Photo: Warner Bros.)

    Jon Hein knows TV. In the late 1990s, he coined the phrase "Jump the Shark" when he founded the site of the same name. Since then, he's written about television everywhere from The New York Times to TV Guide. In his column for Primetimer, he shares his thoughts on what's new and good on TV and the shows on his radar for the coming week.

    I never stopped believing, and neither should you.

    The next chapter of The Sopranos has finally arrived. Actually, it's the previous chapter, but let's not split hairs. David Chase's The Many Saints of Newark makes its long awaited debut this Friday in theaters and on HBO Max.

    What's the right amount of time to pass before seeing old friends and "family" again? For Breaking Bad, it was very brief — the show was immediately spun off into the excellent prequel series Better Call Saul and got a full flashback feature film in El Camino. Seinfeld characters showed up on Curb Your Enthusiasm after many years, but Larry David weaved it into a natural fit. The Corner came well before The Wire, but the streets of Baltimore have remained quiet since McNulty and crew moved on. All were worth the wait.

    Fourteen years have passed since that controversial finale and the infamous diner scene. I remember it all too well. I was convinced that the power went out in my house. I was stunned by the silent black screen. Some called it brilliant. I still call it a cop out. But hey, we're still talking about it, so David Chase's mission has long been accomplished.

    To bring back a legendary series one decade and a half later is, well, very David Chase like. This brilliant creator does things his way. I've long admired his attitude and ownership when it comes to his characters and story.

    In the new film, Soprano roots run deep. Michael Gandolfini (son of James) plays a young Tony observing the Jersey world in the late 1960's and early 1970's. The nuclear family names are all too familiar — Livia, Junior and Janice along with the work family of Paulie, Silvio and Big Pussy. We all know how they grow up, but this gives us a more detailed look.

    The power of nostalgia is on full display, but this new story packs a powerful dramatic punch. It feels like a two-hour Sopranos episode, and knowing how life will turn out for most of this cast doesn't spoil a thing. This is more than just a Sopranos origin story, and I wish it was more than just a film.

    Expectations are sky high, and the man behind the family delivers. This trip to Newark will lead many back to the original series. Watching Tony's saga play out over multiple seasons is more satisfying since there's lots of time to tell it.

    As for the film, it's just nice to just hold on to that feeling.

    THIS WEEK’S SPTINAFOBYMB!
    (Shows Premiering That I'm Not A Fan Of But You Might Be!)

    Chocolate Meltdown: Hershey's After Dark (FOOD) – If they stuck a camera in the Chocolate World ride at Hershey Park, I'd watch. Monday at 10pm.

    La Brea (NBC) – Just in case you were wondering why the networks took home no primetime Emmys this year. Tuesday at 9pm.

    All or Nothing: Toronto Maple Leafs (AMAZON) – Inside yet another season of Canada's beloved NHL team failing to bring home the Cup. Puck drops Friday.

    Diana: The Musical (NETFLIX) – Lady Di on Broadway before it even opens in the theater. Bows Friday.

    Maid (NETFLIX) – A single mother cleans houses to make a better life for her daughter. Debuts Friday.

    Seinfeld (NETFLIX) – The legendary comedy about nothing finds a new streaming home. Available Friday.

    THIS WEEK'S PICKS
    Movie commonalities, Jon Stewart’s return, and live from New York…

    Attack of the Hollywood Cliches (NETFLIX)
    Tuesday, September 28th

    I did not expect the next project from the creators of Black Mirror to be a special about Hollywood cliches hosted by Rob Lowe. But then again, that makes perfect sense.

    This one-hour special covers the origins of practically every film or TV cliche you can think of. Walking away from an explosion, one man battles the world, running away in high heels – all the plot devices you end up watching on Netflix. Rob Lowe's great sense of humor about himself is on full display.

    The Problem With Jon Stewart (APPLE TV+)
    Thursday, September 30th

    The problem with Jon Stewart is that he hasn't been around enough during these crazy times. Trevor Noah has done a nice job with The Daily Show, but Jon's biting sarcasm has been desperately missed. Now he’s got a "current affairs" series on Apple TV+.

    Jon Stewart is a brilliant comedian. My fear with his new show is that it will more preachy than funny. He's at his best making us laugh while he poignantly points out what's wrong in the world. Hope the smart laughs keep coming. Watch trailer.

    Saturday Night Live (NBC)
    Saturday, October 2nd 11:30pm ET / 8:30 PM PT

    47 seasons. That's a number to marvel at. It also makes me feel very old. I no longer watch "live from New York" since I can catch up with clips in the morning. That makes me feel old too.

    Four first-time hosts kick off the newest season, starting with Owen Wilson this Saturday. Kim Kardashian will host next... which speaks volumes about the current state of SNL. It's not an election year… you've been warned.

    If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.

    Get vaccinated. Stay healthy and safe!

    Jon Hein is the creator of "Jump the Shark" and author of three books. Follow him @jonhein on Twitter.

    TOPICS: The Sopranos, HBO Max, Attack of the Hollywood Clichés!, The Problem With Jon Stewart, Saturday Night Live, David Chase, James Gandolfini, Michael Gandolfini