Twenty years ago, we met a man named Tony Soprano as he lit up a dark robusto and drove his SUV out of the shadows of the Lincoln Tunnel, heading for his home in the New Jersey suburbs. Television would never again be the same.
This was a new kind of TV character, one we had never seen before. Here was a man capable of unleashing brutal, savage violence one moment and sitting down to a friendly family dinner the next. He could show his daughter around a college campus in the morning, and strangle the life out of an old associate that evening. In the course of six seasons on HBO, we saw him cheat, lie and steal, with perhaps his most cold-blooded moment coming the night he killed a man he lovingly referred to as his nephew, and watched without emotion as his life slipped away.
This clearly wasn’t “The West Wing,” “Friends” or “Seinfeld.” It was a new form of television, a genre that just couldn’t be aired on networks.
No matter how bad Tony Soprano was—and he was bad—we always loved him in the end. There was something about James Gandolfini’s portrayal that made this killer someone we enjoyed watching—even while his actions made us cringe. We invited him and his family into our homes on Sunday nights, week after week for a reason.
We undeniably love “The Sopranos,” and not just because this is one of the most cigar-friendly shows ever to air on TV. Its take-no-prisoners style kept us glued to our chairs, and its trailblazing stories paved the way for new antiheroes of television, everyone from Walter White of “Breaking Bad” to Don Draper of “Mad Men.”
In this issue, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of “The Sopranos,” and find that there’s a new chapter to talk about. The show will soon spin off a movie called The Many Saints of Newark, and it will bring us a new look at the earlier days of our favorite crime family. The film will be set in the 1960s, when racial tensions ran high in America. In it we will meet the fathers, uncles and friends of the Soprano clan, even a young Tony Soprano played by none other than Michael Gandolfini, the son of James Gandolfini, who died in 2013 at the age of 51.
Today, the show still resonates. Watch one of the old episodes on HBO and it will whet your appetite for more of this story, more of this world that fascinates as much as it terrifies. We invite you to read our story about the series here.
There’s much more in this issue: A look at the finest whiskies from Japan, and how they pair with cigars; unforgettable golf in Scottsdale, Arizona; the story of Keens, a steakhouse decorated with tens of thousands of churchwarden pipes; and an in-depth analysis of more than 650 cigar reviews, to show you which cigars are smoking best. All that, and much more.
Enjoy the issue.