It’s rare to hear entertainment news that’s genuinely shocking, but a piece of that arrived last week – that David Chase, the creator of The Sopranos, was readying a prequel movie to the classic HBO mob show.
The project, known as The Many Saints of Newark, will be set in the late 1960s, against the backdrop of the 1967 Newark riots, an era previously glimpsed a couple of times on the original series. It’s not known if the series will focus on Uncle Junior and “Johnny Boy” and Livia Soprano, or a whole other set of characters, nor has a start or release date yet been announced.
The news came as a shock not only because The Sopranos has now been gone for more than a decade, it’s that Chase is working on anything at all.
The news came as a shock not only because The Sopranos has now been gone for more than a decade, it’s that Chase is working on anything at all. His last completed project was the 2010 movie Not Fade Away, and despite creating probably the most acclaimed TV series in history, Chase hasn’t done anything for TV since.
There were a lot of rumors in the immediate aftermath of the series’ ending that a sequel movie might come along, in order to provide some answers, or at least some clues, to some open questions. Is Tony Soprano dead, or not? Whatever happened to the Russian? Was Dr. Melfi’s rapist ever brought to justice? There was never much indication though, that Chase was ever thinking about such a project, even before that door was slammed shut by James Gandolfini’s untimely death in 2013.
Unlikely fan service
But even if there had been a Sopranos sequel, answers to some of the show’s big mysteries were unlikely, for a simple reason: Chase is perhaps less inclined to fan service than any major creator around. The creator never hesitated about leaving mysteries open-ended on the series and even, of course, gave the series a wildly ambiguous ending that upset many. David Chase never cared about fan service before, so why would he start now?
Don’t expect the prequel movie to be any different, and not only because it’s a prequel that’s not even set in the same time period. But don’t expect any Easter eggs with answers either – this isn’t a Marvel movie, and that sort of storytelling was never Chase’s style.
Chase is perhaps less inclined to fan service than any major creator around. The creator never hesitated about leaving mysteries open-ended on the series and even, of course, gave the series a wildly ambiguous ending that upset many.
Sure, there are reasons to be skeptical about the Sopranos revival. The flashback episodes of The Sopranos were never among the show’s better episodes, and Chase’s earlier foray into movies was certainly no classic, despite the presence of James Gandolfini in a major role. The time period change alone indicates that however great it is, the movie won’t be the Sopranos that we remember.
Even so, David Chase has been missed, and I can’t wait to see what he does with this project. Just don’t expect it to give you the Sopranos answers you never got from the show the first go-around.