In our profession, anything that brings about a significant shift in any aspect of the popular media is worthy of our absolute attention. The landscape of the modern media is the field in which we peddle our endeavours and a comprehensive understanding of its whims, trends and direction is imperative to the success of our efforts.
Even in the increasing shift towards a digital existence, television cannot be discounted as anything other than an essential element of the media proposition. Therefore any significant alterations in the ideals, virtues and output of that particular medium are observed and acted upon by the marketing world as a matter of great interest.
The most telling change, in content rather than delivery, I have witnessed in my time is the revitalisation of television brought about by a new sensibility in terms of the quality and intelligence of programming.
It is impossible to attribute such a sweeping adjustment in any one particular direction, but few scholars of television history and culture would find many arguments against ‘The Sopranos’ being a landmark in an unapologetically different approach to programming.
It approached its narrative with such intelligence and subtlety it instantly rendered more traditional approaches to popular television drama irrelevant and ineffectual.
It essentially delivered Shakespeare by stealth to the television audience with its intricate narratives, morally indefinite characters and the most fundamental themes, all delivered unfalteringly at its own reserved pace.
And at the heart of this was the protagonist, Tony Soprano, played by the late James Gandolfini. If ‘The Sopranos’ was Shakespeare in New Jersey, Gandolfini delivered its Lear, its Richard, its Othello and even its Puck.
His performances were simply astonishing and at a stroke his efforts redefined television as far more than a poor alternative to film, elevating it to the role of equal and even superior.
The tone, style and artistic values of ‘The Sopranos’ and Gandolfini’s sublime characterisation can be observed to some extent in every piece of quality dramatic television produced in this generation.
It is such visionary acts of innovation and defiance to the standard models that fuel the creativity and invention in all aspects associated to the media.
Television, marketing and the media in general owe a professional debt to the influence and efforts of Gandolfini. No doubt he would tell us to ‘forget about it’.
Follow Andrew Boulton on Twitter @Boultini
Andrew Boulton is a copywriter at the Together Agency.
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