Monday, June 11, 2007

End of 'The Sopranos'



****STILL HERE?****


So I'm pretty certain that when you're TV screen went blank, just like mine did, your reaction was along the lines of "What the fudge?!?!"

I mean, eight seasons of buildup, including the last five minutes, and Tony Soprano's fate is ...?

But then I thought about it from creator David Chase's perspective and I realized that there was no good way to end the series. People want closure and surprise from the finales of their favorite series, and there wasn't really a way for Chase to deliver either.

So he didn't even try, instead providing a "Gotcha!" moment and no doubt enjoying a laugh knowing that he could lead audiences around by a chain until the very end.

Everyone thought Tony would die. Or Tony would live and a loved one would die. Or Tony would be sent to prison. Or Tony would turn snitch and join the witness protection program. Or....

By the time Chase had started to write the finale, pretty much every theory had been discussed and overanalyzed in the blogosphere. Chase had a scene that teased every one of those theories, only to shoot them down. What was there left to do in ending the series that would still grab people by the shirt collar?

Nothing. So maybe that was the point of Sunday's finale, building up the tension in the diner with Meadow trying unsuccessfully to parallel park and the restaurant patron seemingly not try to stare at the Sopranos as he gets up to go to the bathroom, shot in similar fashion to Bobby's assassination the week before.

Perhaps the scene in which Tony forgives Junior is the most telling, seeing the old man completely alone and senile, visited only by Janice, who is there to steal his money. Tony has to remind Junior that he and Tony's father Johnny once ran Jersey. Now Junior is left to rot away his remaining years. Is Chase telling us that such a fate awaits Tony down the line?

Tony is left trapped in his own mob lifestyle. His would-be heirs to the empire are either dead, like Christopher, too old, like Paulie, or just not cut out for it, like A.J. Paulie, who would like nothing better than to retire, is forced by Tony to take on yet another crew.

Of course, Chase has left the door open to a "Sopranos" movie or some other sequel by keeping most of the key members of the cast alive. Phil Leotardo may have met a rather ignominious fate, but Tony will always have someone nipping at his heels.

Odds are, most fans of the "The Sopranos" won't remember the ending with fondness. People wanted a "Newhart" style of stunner, or at least a "MASH" sense of closure.

Instead, Chase played the only card that was left to him: He turned the camera off, and that was it.

MONDAY'S BEST BET: The Tony Soprano of chefs, Gordon Ramsay, has returned to Fox for his American TV series "Hell's Kitchen" (Fox, 8 p.m.).

Over on HBO, you can torture yourself by watching the re-airing of "The Sopranos" finale at 8 p.m., followed by the season premiere of "Big Love" at 9 p.m.

I didn't get a chance last week to review "Creature Comforts" (CBS, 8 p.m.) The animation is brilliant and clever, though for me the running gag of series got a bit old and repetitive after a while.

But my pick of the night is a rerun of the funniest sitcom moment this year, the Robin Sparkles/slap bet episode of "How I Met Your Mother" (CBS, 9:30 p.m.) When I put out my Emmy picks last week, I should have mentioned this one for best writing.


hotspur said...

I thought the final episode was very poor. Except watching the guy in the restaurant going to the bathroom, it was verbose and lacking in tension. When the screen went blank, we thought the cable went off !!!!

The scene with the death of the hated Phil was OK but did they need babies locked in the car ?

The penultimate show was much better and kept me riveted to my seat.

I suppose they couldn't kill off Tony as there is millions to be made in a film.

I hoped they might get rid of his immature, stupid, son. Perhaps Tony could have snuffed him.

It is a shame that this year's series, which was so good, will be remembered by the failure of this last show.

Perhaps my cable did go out and I missed the ending.

zodin2008 said...

I also hated the last scene, and I do feel that Chase owed the fans a more riveting final moment, or at least some sort of conclusion, but I still felt the episode had its great moments (Phil getting his comeuppance was worth while, plus, AJ revealing he's just as shallow and all over the place as he always is).

However, I agree, the penultimate episode was far, far superior, one of the best in the show's history.

Phillip, let me just say that you have really done your readers a huge disservice and this was one of the WORST previews you have EVER done for a night of Television.

Besides the Reality crap that most of us do try & ignore (even eality fans hate "Hell's Kitchen"), you have either balatantly or ignorantly forgotten that 2 of Cable's best and most popular shows return tonight--even if you don't watch them, you should report on them.

I will do it for you.

First, at 8 PM, the highly entertaining and well reviewed "Kyle XY" kicks off its second season on ABC family.

"Kyle" was one of the most surprising gems of the Summer of 2006, and the boy without the belly button (played in earnest by newcomer, Matt Dallas) returns though now he's out of the Treger household and going head to head directly with the organization that's trying to bring him down.

In fact, ala the 'evil leaper' on "Quantum Leap" from years back, there is now a female and more sinister rival to Kyle.

Also kicking off season 2 tonight is the return of the surprisingly entertaining HBO hit, "Big Love", featuring Bill Paxton as a salt Lake City Businessman named Bill Henricksen, who had his Polygamist existence exposed in last season's highly entertaining season finale.

Wife #1, Barb (played fantastically by Jeanne Tripplehorn), is not going to handle this transition (and loss of privacy) well. Wife #2, the hateable Nikki (Chloe Sevigny), not only will try and extert more control over Bill and all the kids, but will also need to reign in her spending as Barb discovered Nikki's $60,000+ in debt.

Finally, the 3rd wife, Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin of "Ed" fame) continues to be the most needy and most immature of the group.

Event well known television critic, Matt Roush, who was not a fan of Season one of "Big Love" (though many of us were) has given 3 1/2 stars to tonight's season premier 9HBO, 9 PM).

There you go, CABLE tonight and please don't waste your time watching reality garbage on FOX. Thank you.

Phillip Ramati said...

Gee, hotspur, Tony snuffing his own kid? I hope you don't have those thoughts abour your kids!

Zod, I did mention Big Love. Since I've never watched it, I can't really give any insight to the show, can I?

But thanks for mentioning Kyle XY.

zodin2008 said...

Your "Big Love" mention was so brief, I must have BLINKED and missed it. It was one of the more talked about shows of 2006 and for my $, one of the most entertaining.

I would go a step further and make solid cases for Emmy nominations for Tripplehorn and Sevigny, in particular.

That aside, "Kyle" was a show I went into with even lower expectations and loved.

What's ironic about last Summer is there were 3 'big' Sci Fi premiers..."Kyle XY", "Eureka", and "Hex". 2 of them I was very excited about (Hex and Eureka) and one I tried out of morbid curiosity (Kyle). The only one I gladly stuck with throughout its Freshman (Summer) season was "Kyle", by far the best of the 3.

"Eureka" was strange, way too strange, like "Picket fences" (A show I loathed) on acid. "Hex", as I previously stated, showed me some promise but by the 4th or 5th episode, I completely gave up when it went from being Buffy (Extremely) light to being everyone is having sex wtih everyone. "Hex" felt more like the supernatural version of BBC's "Footballers Wives".

Being "Footballers Wives" is fine for that type of show which pulls no punches in being a sex fest. But "Hex" had nothing below the surface of good looking people having sex.

I half expected "Kyle", being an ABC family series, to bee some cheesy "7th Heaven" yak fest. It had some elements of the ho hum family life, but it had a far deeper mystery.

The show in fact shared more in commin with the likes of "John Doe" (including Kyle's opening scene of the series just like John, waking up in goo in the middle of a forest with amnesia) as well as shows's like "Quantum Leap". I was stunned how good it was.

I think the same thing happened this past Fall/Spring with the now revived, "Jericho".

"Jericho" was a show I had very little expectations about, that wasn't even very good its first 4 or 5 episodes, but then hit its stride and turned out to be one of the best series of the year (as evidenced by 8 million people sending bags of nuts to CBS Prez. Nina Tassler's office).

The same thing happened in the Fall of 2005 with the now defunct ABC serial, "Invasion". Low expectations and turned out to be one of the best shows I saw in 2005-06 season.

Hotspur said...


Some of us like Hell's Kitchen. Don't insult our choices !!!