Old School Americana & Nostalgia


‘The Sopranos’ Creator Reveals ‘The Twilight Zone’ Had a Major Impact on the Mafia Show

‘The Sopranos’ Creator Reveals ‘The Twilight Zone’ Had a Major Impact on the Mafia Show

Creativity and inspiration play major roles in developing television series and David Chase found a deep well for The Sopranos. While his source might be a bit strange put up against the backdrop of his show, it will make sense. At least it did for Chase and continues to help him even today.

So, what was this beacon of light that shone brightly for Chase? The Twilight Zone — a brilliant show filled with emotional peaks and valleys. Yes, it also had some of the most powerful scripts and shows in TV history. For those people who are still being introduced to The Twilight Zone, you might look for themes that resonate even today.

Chase, whose mind and pen brought Tony Soprano and many other characters to light, talks about Rod Serling’s amazing series. Variety asked several people to share which TV series or shows left an imprint on their minds.

David Chase Points Out ‘Twilight Zone’ Episode

Chase points toward one episode in particular titled I Shot an Arrow Into the Air. Astronauts are shown landing on an asteroid. This leads all of them to start squabbling and fighting. As it happens, only one astronaut is left alive after the others are murdered. When this astronaut walks over the crest of a hill, he sees that they are on Earth all the time. Chase wrote, “All the hatred and violence was for nothing. When I was 13, that blew my mind. They were there the whole time?!”

This is where Chase learned about a writing tool called “the twist.” It’s something he’s used in all of his work, including on The Sopranos. OK, so where is Chase’s connection between both shows?

“As I started to work professionally, I learned more about how to describe Serling’s work,” Chase wrote. “The arguments the astronauts had touched on themes in American life, like all the episodes did, just like when Tony Soprano says, ‘I have the feeling I came in at the end.’ That wasn’t about the Mafia. That was about this country. Or Christopher, the episode everyone hates: That’s about America at its ludicrous worst.

Show Creator ‘Dabbled’ In Surrealism

“The years of The Twilight Zone were the beginning of life under the thermonuclear cloud,” Chase wrote. “Then came the Cuban missile crisis. During The Sopranos, it seemed like something was going downhill.”

Well, Chase also pointed out that while working on The Sopranos, he “dabbled” around in surrealism. “This is a show about a guy with a psychotherapist in an era of talk therapy,” Chase wrote. “To me, dream sequences have to be a part of a show descended from Freud. It was thrilling to be there, spending money on shooting those things that were surreal. Along with Salvador Dalí (who I also discovered when I was 13), The Twilight Zone was in there. It was a total original.”

The Sopranos received accolades for its actors and additional creative people. Viewers were captivated by the late James Gandolfini’s portrayal of Tony. His scenes with Dr. Melfi, played by Lorraine Bracco, provided a deep look into this man’s own psyche. Of course, you pit those scenes against guys going out on hits.

Chase, who won seven Emmys for his work here, knew how to take viewers for a ride. Even for episodes fans hated, Chase knew how to push viewers’ buttons through the incredible cast’s work.