As The Sopranos reaches its conclusion, it's a useful time to reflect on how important the Mob -- and depictions of criminal violence in general -- has been to the development of groundbreaking television drama.
The Untouchables, which debuted in 1959 and featured the grim-faced, gravel-voiced Robert Stack as Chicago crime-fighter Eliot Ness, might not seem so special now, but the tough-minded, realistically adult way it showed Ness battling the likes of Al Capone, Frank Nitti, Dutch Schultz and others in the Depression-era Windy City was enough to create great controversy about violence on television at the time. As attitudes toward The Sopranos show, that controversy has remained a constant. This four-disc set offers 14 of Season One's 28 shows plus the two-hour pilot, "The Scarface Mob," which first was broadcast on the Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse and then released to theaters. Newspaper columnist Walter Winchell provided the series' narration. (Steven Rosen) Grade: A-