The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Breaking News

AP story section

June 21, 2013

Soprano more than a memorable TV character

NEW YORK — James Gandolfini’s portrayal of Tony Soprano represented more than just a memorable TV character. He changed the medium, making fellow antiheroes like Walter White and Dexter Morgan possible and shifting the balance in quality drama away from broadcast television.

The passage of time since “The Sopranos” ended in 2007 brought all of that into sharp relief even before Gandolfini’s death of a heart attack while vacationing in Italy on Wednesday.

Television characters certainly weren’t one-dimensional when David Chase cast the little-known Gandolfini in the lead role of his series about the personal and work families of a New Jersey crime boss. But there were limits: Flaws in a TV hero character had to be affectionate grace notes, like Jim Rockford’s poor choice of friends or Arnie Becker’s womanizing on “L.A. Law.”

The unwritten rule: Don’t make your central character someone viewers will recoil from. Break the mold and failure looms. The 1980s comedy “Buffalo Bill” on NBC was highly regarded but conventional wisdom was that it lasted only a year because Dabney Coleman’s lead character was such a creep.

It’s possible to even pinpoint the moment that “rule” was wiped off the books. In the fifth episode of “The Sopranos,” Tony accompanies his daughter on a trip to scout out colleges and spies another mobster who was hiding in the witness protection program. Tony strangles him.

“There’s no question Tony Soprano was at the center of ‘The Sopranos,’” said David Bianculli, a longtime TV critic who teaches television at New Jersey’s Rowan University. “And there was no question how flawed and sometimes despicable he was. But he also had things people could relate to,” like his tortured relationship with his mother and emotional issues that led him to seek psychiatric help.

Text Only
AP story section
  • Iraq violence threatens OPEC's precarious balance NEW YORK (AP) -- The oil market has balanced out quite nicely for OPEC in recent years. Now, upheaval in Iraq shows that balance may be more precarious than it has seemed. Dramatic changes in oil production around the globe have offset each other ins

    June 13, 2014

  • Board of Trade Grain mixed, livestock mostly higher CHICAGO (AP) -- Grain futures were mixed Thursday in early trading on the Chicago Board of Trade. Wheat for July delivery was 1 cent higher at $5.9025 a bushel; July corn was 1.25 cents lower at $4.4075 a bushel; July oats were unchanged at $3.4625 a

    June 13, 2014

  • Health campaign among nation's costliest CHICAGO -- President Barack Obama's home state agreed to spend $33 million in federal money promoting his health care law, hiring a high-priced public relations firm for work that initially was mocked and spending far more per enrollee on television

    June 13, 2014

  • Some states roll back teacher tenure protections WASHINGTON (AP) -- Even before a judge's scathing ruling against California's teacher tenure policies, the once-sacred protections that make it harder to fire teachers already had been weakened in many states -- and even removed altogether in some pl

    June 13, 2014

  • Tigers' Scherzer outduels Sale CHICAGO -- Max Scherzer already has a Cy Young Award. Now he has a complete game. Scherzer tossed a three-hitter in his 179th career start for his first complete game and Victor Martinez hit his 16th homer to lead the Detroit Tigers to a 4-0 win over

    June 13, 2014

  • $40M casino for rural Iowa approved BURLINGTON (AP) -- The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission has voted 3-2 to grant a license for a $40 million casino development that would be located in rural central Iowa. Supporters of the Jefferson casino burst into applause during a meeting in Bur

    June 13, 2014

  • Principal case leads to two hearings RED OAK -- Two hearings are planned related to a southwest Iowa school district's plan to fire a high school principal. The Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil reported the effort to fire Red Oak High School Principal Jedd Sherman will be the subject of a

    June 13, 2014

  • U.S. split outgrows voting booth WASHINGTON (AP) -- Political polarization in America has broken out of the voting booth. A new survey from the Pew Research Center finds Americans are divided by ideology and partisanship not only when they cast ballots, but also in choosing where to

    June 13, 2014

  • Cubs' offense no help for Samardzija PITTSBURGH -- Jeff Samardzija has some advice his pitching brethren when it comes to facing streaking Andrew McCutchen. Don't. The way the Chicago Cubs' ace looks at it, trying to get the Pittsburgh Pirates' star out at the moment only opens yourself

    June 13, 2014

  • State to reopen Juvenile Home DES MOINES -- A district court judge on Wednesday ordered the state to reopen the Iowa Juvenile Home, telling Gov. Terry Branstad he cannot unilaterally change a law approved by the state Legislature. Judge Scott Rosenberg said the home in Toledo was

    February 6, 2014

AP Video
Facebook
National News