Sunday, June 10, 2007

Ninety minutes out

A few thoughts, as down the stretch they come:

1. There are a few consensus memes being thrown around radio, TV, and the internet as regards the final Sopranos. To wit: Tony does not die (no Gandolfini, no potential movie deal down the line; we have, in Gandolfini, an actor who has dominated an ensemble show as confidently as James Arness did Gunsmoke, as Daniel Travanti did Hill Street Blues, or as John Spencer did The West Wing, before medical considerations, and ultimately death, curtailed his participation). Meadow does not die (too close to the unfortunate Godfather III; comedian Larry Miller's greatest quote: "I saw Godfather III again last night, and it's still terrible.") Phil does not die, for the simple reason that evil triumphs (this seems the weakest of the three, but David Chase has made millions running away from expectations, so who knows?) To which I would add: Carm does not die (too close to the original Godfather, with Apollonia, and can anyone imagine a Sopranos movie without Edie freaking Falco? That would only leave AJ, so AJ dying would be too easy, so AJ doesn't die. The rest I leave to the passage of time: Sil, Paulie, the rest.

2. As I type this, Astro-Girl (aka Mrs. Texasyank) is cooking home-made lasagna. Wanted to throw that in.

3. Long-running television shows offer an advantage you won't find in movies or plays: the benefit of watching characters grow in real time, of actors aging along with their parts. The best example I can think of is Hill Street Blues, in which--over the span of seven years--we saw JD LaRue progress from a falling-down drunk to an amiable rogue, Belker from a self-loathing loner to a husband and family man, and Captain Furillo from a screwed-too-tight recovering alcoholic police captain to a more relaxed, still straight-as-an-arrow recovering alcoholic police captain. (I've always felt that Cpt. Furillo has gotten short shrift as a historical TV character; as a figure of restraint and moral ethos, he ranks with Captain Kirk, Marshall Dillon and the Fonz.) In The Sporanos we have watched the simultaneous ascent of Meadow and descent of AJ, the steadying presence of Silvio (as long as he wasn't asked to be boss), Junior's descent into madness, Bobby's (RIP) late coming-of-age, Christopher's demons, Paulie's Wal-nuttiness, etc., etc. With enough time to watch, absorb, and reflect over the years, the characters have become like, yes, the worst cliche, people we know.

4. So what now? Guessing at this point would be futile. So I'll just watch.


Anonymous said...

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SunDevilJoe said...

I have to agree with you that the ending was great and could go into all of the nuances and symbollogy that was there. However, what blew me away was, once again, was the familiarity I have with all of the locations in the show. For example, everytime there was a scene at Satriales, my mind conjured up a picture of the entire neighborhood as I had passed that place hundreds of times as a child. So, when Carmela announced they were going to dinner at Holsten's (it's official name is Holsten's ice cream parlor), I turned to DesertRose and said "oh, that's in Bloomfield" as I had been there many times in my youth. That place was perfect for the ending but I can't vouch for sure that it has a pull chain toilet.

By the way, Tony K and Tom Schales both thought it was brilliant.