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The series' first season was built around what Tony learns when, whipsawed between those two worlds, he finds himself plunged into depression and seeks psychotherapy--a gesture at odds with his mid-level machismo, yet instantly recognizable as a modern emotional test. With analysis built into the very spine of the show's elaborate episodic structure, creator Chase and his formidable team of directors, writers and actors weave an unpredictable series of parallel and intersecting plot arcs that twist from tragedy to farce to social realism throughout six spellbinding series. While created for a smaller screen, they enjoy a far larger canvas than a single movie would afford, and the results, like the very best episodic television, attain a richness and scope far closer to a novel than movies normally get. Alternately seductive, exasperated, fearful, and murderous, James Gandolfini's Tony is utterly convincing, even when executing brutal shifts between domestic comedy and dramatic violence.