A weekly series looking back on classic TV show intros …
The Sopranos (86 episodes, 1999-2007)
The adventures of New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), as he struggles with his professional, family and psychological issues.
Positively luxurious by contemporary standards with a length of 90 seconds, the intro follows Tony as he drives through the Lincoln Tunnel from Manhattan to his suburban New Jersey home via the New Jersey Turnpike, passing various landmarks in Newark and Elizabeth, New Jersey on the way.
Creator David Chase has said that his intention with the title sequence was to emphasise that the show was set in New Jersey and not New York itself, as is traditional for Mafia-focussed shows.
As the series itself frequently did, the title sequence firmly puts music at the heart of the show, with the theme being Woke Up This Morning by British band Alabama 3 (known in the US as A3). No, I’d never heard of them, either. In the UK, their most successful single, Ain’t Goin’ To Goa, peaked at number 40 in April 1998. And yet millions of people around the world are familiar with the track used by The Sopranos which fits the series so perfectly, but was actually written about a British woman, Sara Thornton, who was jailed in 1990 for stabbing and killing her husband after 20 years of domestic violence and subsequently released in 1996 after her original murder sentence was downgraded to manslaughter. The original track was written in the first person; the version used by the series has lyrics in the second person.
Other than cast credits, the intro remained unchanged throughout the entire run of The Sopranos, with one small but notable exception. After the events of 9/11, the sequence was amended to remove a shot of the World Trade Centre, which can be seen in Tony’s wing mirror as he exits Lincoln Tunnel before entering the New Jersey Turnpike. The original version is shown here.
Previous classic TV intros
Do you think the intro for this show deserves the status ‘classic’? And do you have a favourite of your own? Watch out for more ‘Classic TV intros’ posts coming soon.