The small theater filled quickly last week, the seats taken by New York’s media elite, at least the ones with a shared fascination of HBO’s breakout hit, "The Sopranos." The distinctive bold red letters spelled out the show’s name against the black screen in the front of the sloping hall. Then, the hissing of HBO’s snowy logo, a quick fade to black, and the pulsing sound of Woke Up This Morning pounded out from the wall speakers.
Like every one of the six seasons, the final episodes of The Sopranos begin with the same theme song, and the same scenes of New Jersey. And, like we have come to expect, the first two episodes that I saw last week have cigars being smoked by more than one character, whether its Tony himself, or one of the other players in the long-running television mega-hit. I won’t ruin any of the story lines for you—suffice it to say that no one dies in the first two episodes that you care about, or at least that you should care about.
But hasn’t this show been a showcase for cigar lovers? Nearly every major character has had a cigar in his mouth at one time or another. James Gandolfini’s Tony Soprano is almost never without one. Steve Schirippa as Bobby Bacala. Frank Vincent as Phil Leotardo. There have been a few characters who’ve come and gone, too: Joey Pantoliano as Ralph. Vincent Pastore as Big Pussy. All cigar smokers at one point or another in the past seasons.
At least a couple of the cast members took their love of cigars out into the real world too. Vincent Pastore was the face in advertising for Player’s Club by Don Diego. Frank Vincent has started his own cigar brand. And, CAO came out with a Sopranos cigar that they’ve showcased at Cigar Aficionado’s Big Smoke events. Gandolfini and some other cast members joined us last year at our prostate cancer charity dinner and cigar event, the Night to Remember.
Cigars have been such symbols on the show that when we created an illustration for the May/June cover of Cigar Aficionado, it made perfect sense to put a cigar in Tony Soprano’s hand.
So, get ready for the wild ride starting on April 8th. The first two episodes are every bit as bloody, and unpredictable, as anything that’s come before. They are also as dark and dangerous as any previous season. If you’ve been a fan, you won’t be disappointed. If you haven’t watched before, check it out. Get ready to be entertained.