Friday, February 27, 2009

The Sopranos - Season 6

My quest has finally ended, as I've finished watching the final episode of the final season this afternoon. While much has been written and said about the ending, I might as well add my $0.02 worth. I, of course, knew the ending, so I had the chance to reflect on it while watching the 2 or 3 episodes leading up to it. Based upon those, I was convinced that the ending meant that Tony was killed. The one thing nagging at me, however, was the code that families were never touched. And if that were the case, why wait until all of them were there? I can't see the point of killing him in front of his whole family, nor can I explain how the killers would have known they all would be there if that was the goal. So I came away not as convinced that he was killed. I then watched the next-to-last episode again with the commentary (which was done by some guy who had a minor role and Steven Van Zandt). They talked about how there was never more than one ending and that the ending was never changed. At the whole cast table read through, when they finished, James Gandolfini, after a long pause, asked David Chase what the ending meant. Chase replied that he didn't want the series to end with the thought that crime pays, nor did he want it to end with the thought that Tony was killed. With that, discussion over and they moved on. So I tend to think that the whole purpose was to let the audience decide the ending for themselves, which given all the alternatives, was probably the best choice. The conspiracy theorist in me, however, believes that it was purposely left open-ended so that if the rumor about a Soprano's movie ever became a reality, they could pick up as if nothing happened. If they wanted to go in another direction with the movie (a prequel), then that would still leave the ending a mystery. All-in-all, a genius move to end it the way they did.

Now, to the question of The Soprano's being the greatest thing ever on TV. My simple answer is, no. The best ever on cable TV - perhaps, but since I don't have HBO or Showtime, I can't compare it to anything else on these channels. Being on cable gave The Soprano's an advantage of no restrictions in language, sex, or violence. They had a realism and a freedom for the writers that network TV doesn't have. I still believe that Seinfeld was the best TV program ever. And when I try to come up with a reason why, I recall the episode called "The Contest". They had to write a script about masturbation without using any term or phrase remotely associated with that act, yet make it obvious what they were talking about and make it funny. Had that been on cable, they could have (and would have) been able to say and show whatever they wanted. What The Soprano's was genius with, however, was taking a story about the mob and showing it in a mundane, day-to-day life way that has never done before. A glimpse that normal people could relate to (problems with kids, with marriage, with depression, etc) but in a setting that made both the issues and the subjects interesting. And they did it with subtle humor, which had it been more obvious, would have not made it as funny as it was.

I'm glad I took the time to do this. Now I need to find another project.....

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