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September 10, 2002 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-09-10

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Sepem er 1 ,2002



Third season of HBO's hit mob
show 'Sopranos' now on DVD


By Jeff Dickerson
Daily Arts Editor
This Sunday night will be one of the most successful
nights in history for the cable channel HBO. Not
because of a world championship boxing match or the
premiere of a Hollywood blockbuster, but because it is
finally time, after numerous delays and rumors, for the
fourth season of the critically acclaimed
drama "The Sopranos" to commence.
Just in time for the debut of the new sea-
son, HBO home video has released the THE SOP
third season'of their most popular program THE CON
on DVD. As was the case with the release THIRD S
of the first two seasons, the box set DV
includes four discs contained in elaborately
detailed gatefold packaging. Picture/Sound:
Each of the 13 episodes is presented in Series: ***
the widescreen format, just as it was showni
originally on television, with pristine pic- Features: **
ture and sound.H
The most satisfying special features of HB
the box set are the audio commentaries
from some of the creative players of the show. Actor
Steve Buscemi provides insightful commentary for the
episode "Pine Barrons," his "Sopranos" directoriali
debut. Series creator David Chase provides his thoughts
for the episode "Amour Fou," but it is Michael Imperi-
oli's commentary on "The Tell-Tale Moozadell" that is

the most interesting to hear.
Also included is a behind the scenes featurette, last-
ing a whopping three and a half minutes, that is little
more than a dispensible promotional piece. Consider-
ing the evolution of DVD extra features, one might
think HBO would want to give their fans something
more substantial.
Unfortunately the third season of "The Sopranos" is
not as consistent as in previous years. For
every brilliant episode, say the Charles S.
Dutton-starring "Another Toothpick," there
RANOS - is a dud, like the Dr. Melfi rape episode,
MPLETE "Employee of the Month." Some of the
EASON best and worst work of the entire series can
D be found in this season.
James Gandolfini and the rest of the cast
are just as impressive as when the show
r* began in 1999. The difficulty in the third
season emanates from the emergence of
* new characters and story arcs thrown into
the central plotline without thorough
explanation. Too much of what goes on in
the 13 episodes of season three feels
coincedental and unnatural.
"The Sopranos" has a lot to live up to in the upcom-
ing fourth season. Since the first season, the show has
failed to live up to its initial perfection, but despite its
flaws, "The Sopranos" is without a doubt the best
drama on television.

Members of 'Defying Gravity' discuss the dangers of outer space travel in a bar scene.

Delightful'Defing Gravity' now
playing at Performance Network

By Jim Schiff
Daily Arts Writer
Jane Anderson's "Defying Gravi-
ty" is a small ensemble piece that
touches on many themes. At the sur-
face level, each character wants to
defy gravity; or in other words, view
the Earth fiom above. On a more
profound level, the play asks us to
examine our own personal quest for
the stars. 'Defying Gravity' delights
on both levels.
Though the play is fictional, its
story is rooted in the failed Chal-
lenger mission of 1986. Sarah Bur-
con portrays a high school teacher
who is about to make her first jour-
ney into space, and Annie Palmer
plays Elizabeth, her attention-crav-
ing young daughter who is reluctant
to see her go. The story revolves
around the two actresses, but five
others: a bartender, a NASA techni-
cian, two tourists and above all,
French Impressionist painter Claude
Monet, are all present when the
rocket takes off. Each carries a dif-

Courtesy of HBO
Everybody is back for the new season of "The Sopranos." Well almost everybody.

Collect Calls
Save The Max
y s
*Plus set-up. Interstate/8p.m.-7a.m.

ferent perspective on the mission -
some see it as a wondrous opportu-
nity, while others view it as a life-
threatening risk.
Most of "Defying Gravity" takes
place before the rocket's launch.
There isn't a great deal
of action; indeed, the
audience is only given
little snippets of the D
character's lives, in par- Gi
ticular Elizabeth's and
her mother's. We don't At Pe
know why, for example, Networi
her mother was selected Shows T
for the mission, at least Sat
outside of her curiosity Sun
of outer space. It's also T
unclear as to why Perform
Monet (Roy K. Denni-
son) is able to travel through time
and become part of the story. A bit
more explanation would have been
helpful, however, the characters'
backgrounds are relatively less
important than the broader premise
of the play.
Speaking of, "Defying Gravity"
is chock full of metaphors of jour-
neying into space. The play pur-
ports that the Chartres Cathedral
represented mankind's belief that
the taller the structure, the closer to
heaven we were. Along these lines;
Elizabeth's interest in'her mother's
foray into space is represented by
her desire to reach new heights: she
jumps on a chair until she can touch
the ceiling with her fingertips.
While some analogies are less obvi-
ous than others, each illustrates the
emotions surrounding an adventure
into the unknown.
The acting is uniformly strong,
though some roles are showier than
others. Roy K. Dennison as Monet
is the clear standout. Donning a
charming French accent and a long
gray beard, he injects both humor
and heart into a role that border-
lines caricature. Similarly, Travis
Reiff as C.B., the NASA technician,
and Carla Milarch as Donna, the

k thru Oct. 6
hurs., Fri. and
t. 8 p.m.
Jay 2 p.m.
ance Network
fully realized


local bartender, were particularly
convincing. The two must change
almost immediately from a state of
joy to despair after the mission
fails, and both seem to harbor the
most grief.

journey becomes ours.

The small cast
helps to create an
intimate feel onstage.
Coupled with the
sparse lighting and
props, "Defying
Gravity" feels less
like a play and more
like a character
study. It's almost as
if the audience is a
part of the story -
we can empathize
with their fears and
. Each character is so
d that, in the end, their


Courtesy of Performance Network
Staring at the stars in 'Gravity.'

Courtesy of Performance Network
Overcoming acrophobia.

'U' graduate produces Sept. 11
album, proceeds benefit charity

By Luke Smith
Daily Arts Ed itor
University graduate Dr. Neal Cherian wasn't needed
on site in New York in the wake of Sept. 11. Cherian,
a neurologist specializing in dizziness at the Cleve-
land Clinic in Ohio, felt the need to do something in
the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. "I thought, what
could I do?" Cherian told The Michigan Daily.
Cherian teamed up with Patrick Conneen and New
York area doctor John Bells to release We Stand As
One World, available now through the trio's website
(www.westandasoneworld.org). Additionally, We
Stand as One World will be available in the Rock and
Roll Hall of Fame's record store.
"I wanted to do something meaningful, not self-
serving," Cherian said. Since his medical expertise
wasn't needed at ground zero, he turned to something
he, Conneen and Bells all enjoyed: Music.
We Stand As One World is a two-disc compilation






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