These characters are really human. excellent writing!
Just watched a full thirteen hours of this just-released dvd. wow! this series just keeps getting better and better. in spite of being involved in a violent lifestyle, each character comes across as very human. i relate to them all. and somehow, the writing is so good that i feel i'm right there, a member of the family. these episodes fit together beautifully, and are part of the great mosaic that has been delighting viewers for the past three years. i just recently became an hbo subscriber and actually saw only one or two episodes before the season ended. but i'm all caught up now, after also viewing seasons one and two on dvd and can't wait to watch it week by week as the season four begins. one of the things i love most about the series is the depth of understanding the writers have of human nature. the action of the story is true to the personalities of each character. and afterward i can understand why their hard choices could only go one way, given who they are. for example, there is a brutal rape episode in which the viewer wonders what will happen next. afterwards, however, because of previously established characterizations, i could understand that the episode couldn't have concluded in any other way. there is also a humanization of one of the girls who work at the strip club, changing forever the viewer's perception of the realities of the trade. i've come to love carmela with all her soul searching about her role of a mafia wife. and of course there is tony with all his humanity, and some very erotic scenes with a seemingly sophisticated new lady friend. their relationship sparks and then disintegrates quite quickly and the attraction followed by repulsion was easy to understand. tony's children and his family life keep getting more interesting. meadow is at college now and has to deal with new relationships while still tied to the familiar. and a.j. is showing signs of the same kind of panic attacks that affect his father. tony's mother dies in the first episode and what follows regarding his sister's janet's reaction is exactly the kind of scatterbrained nonsense mixed with cruelty that we've all come to expect from her. tony's mafia family is still true to what we've come to expect. this year it's ralphie we all love to hate. and then there's jackie jr. whose stupidity leads to tragedy. tony still has feelings of guilt about previous acts of violence. but i just love the fact that there are flashbacks instead of some of the silly dream sequences that appeared in episodes during the first two years. as a total package, this third year gets another super high recommendation. don't miss it. but be sure to see the first two years in order to put it all in perspective.