I was initially appalled when these wise guys at HBO just assumed that we'd wait more than a year for the troubled souls of the Soprano family to return. You know what they say about assuming. But no harm, no foul. It was worth the wait.
The Sopranos kicked off Season 5 Sunday. When we last heard from Tony and Carmela (James Gandolfini and Edie Falco), she had finally kicked him out of the house after years of his philandering. Now, time has pased, and she's rather happy with the situation, while he's anything but.
Sure, Tony is now free to play around, but being married didn't stop him before, so there's no real change there. The crime boss has an ever-increasing obsession with his shrink, Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco). This season, he starts acting like a silly schoolboy with a crush, but he might as well be wearing a backpack, because the good doctor sends him packing.
I foresee Tony and Carmela bickering through most of this season. Inevitably, I believe, they'll get back together, but I hope it's only after Tony drops his ever-increasing gut. She's truly slimmed down, and the only way she should take him back is if he gives up his extra ladies and his extra lamb chops.
From Breaking Necks to Massage Therapy
Steve Buscemi has come on board as Tony's long-lost cousin. He's been locked away for 15 years, and now he's out, but instead of rejoining the Soprano crew, he's decided to try to make it as a massage therapist, a trade he learned in jail. Tony's not too thrilled, and that's never a good sign.
Sometime during the hiatus, Janice Soprano (Aida Turturro) finally snagged Bobby Bacala (Steve Schirripa). She's trying her best to play the loving wife, but she's already complained about the lack of intimacy. Based on her past relationships with goons like Richie Aprile and Ralph Cifaretto, she's going to be hard-pressed to stay satisfied with humble Bobby. Look for Janice to stray.
Christopher (Michael Imperioli) and Paulie Walnuts (Tony Sirico) have mended fences for now, but this battle is far from over. One of these fellows is going down by the other's hand. It's only a matter of time, and my guess is the nut gets cracked. Cement Makeover for Adriana?
This brings us to the most compelling story line of all — the fate of Adriana (Drea de Matteo). Christopher's Jimmy Choo shoe-loving fiancée is now a major rat for the FBI. As they delve further into her deception this season, there's going to come a time when she's found out. She's already starting to blow her cover with teary outbursts around the family.
Mark my words, when the family find out she's a snitch, she's going to be the whack of the decade. Carving up Ralphie's corpse will seem like a day at the deli compared to what they'll do to her.
But who will do the dirty work when it's time for Adriana to sleep with the fishes? If it's Paulie, that's going to test his already shaky relationship with Christopher. But it could be Christopher, too, out of loyalty to the family.
However it goes down, the beautiful Adriana is all but certain to get the most unflattering makeover, and as they say in gangland, "It won't be pretty."
Indeed, The Sopranos are back, at least for a while. It's almost like they never left, except for the major lull in the body count.
Heidi Oringer is director of entertainment programming at ABCNEWS Radio.