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The Sopranos first aired twenty years ago in January 1999. There was lots of fanfare and ‘remember when’ last week when that date arrived. The main cast was reunited to celebrate and reminisce and, for those of us who are and were huge fans, there were lots of lovely stories and fun memories shared in the interviews and articles that followed.

All of this was a little bittersweet given the absence of James Gandolfini.

When Dominic Chianese fondly and emotionally remembered some of his moments with Gandolfini… a suggestive and lurid golf club gesture and a simple “don’t you love me?” line… I cried. He cried as he shared this memory. There were more poignant moments like this as cast members talked about ‘Jimmy.”

I’m a little emotional and overwhelmed with the early weeks of fatherhood and lack of sleep but, I think I would have cried anyway.

The Sopranos means so much to me.

Perhaps that’s a ludicrous thing to say about a tv show, especially one that’s so often violent and shocking.

I’ve watched the series from start to finish multiple times, often ending the final episode and immediately starting at the very beginning again in one sitting. Like so many fans, I first loved the mobster movies that would influence this show so much but, in time I’ve grown to love Tony and his crew far more than Henry Hill or Michael Corleone.

I could write loads about the origin of the show and how David Chase stood firm with his vision. I could re-write anecdotes that have already been shared and re-shared all around the web… as if to try and justify why it’s my favourite show of all time or why it’s better than The Wire or Breaking Bad.

I won’t. I’m just a fan after all.

In response to the media frenzy last week I saw lots of “never watched it, should I?” comments. I used to pitch it to people as a must view… I hadn’t done it for a while and then a few weeks ago I told the midwives delivering our son that they should watch it when we got to talking about “box-sets.” It was a tense moment!

But hey, either you watch it or you don’t.

Here’s what I know…

I’ve watched it more than anything else on tv. I know vast chunks of the dialogue. I see something new almost every time I watch an episode. It paved the way for a golden era of television shows and box-set binge watching. Tony is not a nice guy but, I love him. The big story and stories within it are complex, tragic, poignant and sometimes beautiful. The Russian got eaten by squirrels. Angie is running her own crew. The Blue Comet is still for sale. Patsy is still running. Furio is squeezing mozzarella somewhere in Italy. Bobby Jnr whacked Janice. Sil came out of his coma. Tony, Carmela, AJ and Meadow are just fine.

Ok, maybe not…

That said, it doesn’t matter what “happened” at the end, when the screen went black. It’s only television.

The absolute best television ever.