Dinosaurs that we are, about three million light years after everybody else and then thanks to a kind loan from PP and M (to whom grateful thanks), this evening we finished watching the first season of The Sopranos. The series began to air in 1999 and holds up remarkably well. Its initial conceit is remarkably simple; (New Jersey) Mob bosses have families and problems and related tensions and mental and physical illnesses just like everybody else. Inevitably, we found ourselves comparing it with The Wire (which has had added poignancy for us since we gazed out last month from an Amtrak train at some of the broken-down Baltimore estates and housing that feature in the series). For us, on balance, The Wire (which came a few years later) wins because it is so raw and uncompromising and so frequently makes the viewer work at understanding the plot. The script of The Sopranos is less knowing, with far fewer memorable quotations and oblique philosophical and cultural references. (That said, The Sopranos first series has one clearly knowing winning memorable quotation: ‘cunnilingus and psychiatry brought us to this’ – the ‘this’ in question being Mob warfare.) However, all critics seem to agree that The Wire wouldn’t have been possible without the ground-breaking work of The Sopranos. What is clear is that both cleverly and entertainingly portray the combination of dispassionate amorality and passionate sentimentality that, if we are honest with ourselves, has never been limited to organised crime.