Continuing on with day 2 of The Sopranos week. Check out part 1 if you haven’t already. Today will cover my most/least favorite characters on the show in an “awards” like format. Excluded from the conversation are The Big Three (Tony, Carmela, Dr. Melfi) because anyone that didn’t like them probably didn’t like the show.
It sounds like it’s a slight, but Christopher was my favorite character on this show outside of The Big Three. He is one of just nine characters to be listed on all 86 episode on IMDb1 even though he died before the last episode. Other than The Big Three and the children (who had an advantage because they literally “grew up” on the show) Christopher seemed to have the most pronounced journey. He started as Tony’s driver/enforcer and rose all the way to Capo. At one point it looked like he was the heir apparent, before drug abuse got in the way.
Michael Imperioli’s portrayal was wonderful, as Christopher went from a greedy kid, who wanted fame more than respect, to someone who realized even your dream job sometimes isn’t all that great.
Bobby Bacala didn’t show up until season 2 and was only on 50 episodes of the show, but by the last couple of seasons he rose to a very important character. He started as an overweight punch line who was included only because his father was a well respected wise guy. After his wife died and he got involved with Janice Soprano which definitely helped his rise to significance. I really enjoyed his character as he became less of a mope that was constantly made fun of, and more of an important strategist.
You Shouldn’t Have To Ask
Adriana La Cerva
Anyone who watched this show likely doesn’t need to ask why she was one of my favorites, so we should just leave it at that…
Her character meshed so well with Christopher’s though. Her family was involved in OC and she knew was she was getting into. She spent most of her time as an FBI informant who was scared and worried all the time that her whole world was going to crash down, and yet at the same time she was naive enough to think that she and Christopher would somehow end up together.
I was surprised to find out that Artie appeared in only 39 episodes, but it just confirmed how much I liked him. Artie was a childhood friend of Tony and it always seemed like he was jealous of what Tony had, but at the same time had morals that kept him from getting too involved for the most part. The scene where he confronts Tony about burning down his restaurant was one of the show’s best, and the other times he popped up were just gold.
Best Mid-Series Pickup
Steve Buschemi was spectacular as the recently released from prison cousin of Tony and Christopher. He came off a 20 year sentence to find his daughter was totally MIA, his twin sons brats, their mother moved on, his cousin running the Family and nothing really as he remembered it. He tried to go straight but eventually decided that after years of being locked up, this is not how he wanted to live his life.
Buschemi is great at playing the calm, cool guy who can still snap at any moment. He didn’t win an Emmy for his peformance, only because his on-screen cousin Christopher finally won one. Most shows start to decline in season 5, but there is a case to be made that it was The Sopranos finest, largely because of Buschemi.
Worst Performance Ever
No conversation about the greatness of The Sopranos is complete with mention of how terrible Robert Iler’s performance was as AJ Soprano. If there’s proof to this, look no further than the fact that he hasn’t shown up any of note since2. The character of AJ was a whiny brat, who said and did the most selfish and idiotic things possible all the time. I always wondered if there was potential for a bigger role that was never realized because Iler was just too limited. Some of the later seasons just produce cringe-worthy scenes where you wonder how this guy as grown up could be so bad.
All Grown Up
Speaking of growing up, despite playing a 14/15-year old on the first season of the show, Sigler was in fact 18 at the time. Her character definitely grew up on the show, and when you consider how well Sigler did portraying a much younger character, she did alright. Like AJ, she was a brat at times, and progressed from there to someone who resented who her father was and what he was about before becoming an adult who accepted it for what it was and realized there was plenty good she could do with her life.
It has always amazed me that it took until 2012 for her to get another real shot at TV show, unfortunately it was the awful Guys with Kids which didn’t make it through one season. Hopefully we haven’t seen the last of her.
- Favorite Actor/Actress From a Previous Show – Julianna Skiff – Post ER, pre-The Good Wife Julianna Marguiles shows up as a realtor who tries to hook-up with Tony before ending up with Christopher in what ends up being the catalyst for his drug relapse.
- Favorite Actor/Actress From a Future Show – Kelli Moltisanti – Cara Buono was just a minor character in 7 episodes of The Sopranos at the end of the run before going on to play Dr. Faye Miller on 10 episodes of Mad Men.
- Biggest Tool – Dr. Elliot Kupferberg – It amazed my much later in life to learn this character was played by Peter Bogdanovich who is best known for directing The Last Picture Show and Paper Moon because every time he was on screen I was hoping it was his “last picture show”.
- Most Annoying Character – Noah Tannenbaum – Despite just a three episode run Meadow’s college boyfriend needed to go badly. After Meadow got past her father’s racial feelings fueling her desire to be with him, she realized what a pompous jerk Noah was.
- Whatever Happened To? – Valery (a.k.a. “The Russian) – One of the biggest question fans of The Sopranos have is ”whatever happened to the Russian who got away from Chris and Paulie in the woods?"
- Character You Most Wanted Dead – Jesus Rossi – Another no-brainer. Some fans were angry that Dr. Melfi’s rapist got away scott free, but I think it was Chase’s way of almost saying “life balances things out, when you help someone bad, someone else bad gets away”.