Category Archive 'The Sopranos'

10 Oct 2016

Locker Room Talk



20 Jun 2007

Hillary & Bill Clinton Parody Sopranos Ending

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That clever Ann Althouse has a larger, easier-to-watch version than Hillary’s own web-site does.

Despite the cut-to-black, Hillary’s website actually does reveal her choice of campaign song: Celine Dion singing You and I.

The video is amusing. Her choice of song is lame.

12 Jun 2007

That Sopranos Finale


The final episode of the much-admired series ended with the deliberate misdirection of viewers’ attention followed by a startlingly sudden cut to black. Writer David Chase’s failure to deliver up a more meaningful and definitive ending has provoked apologetic defenses and some scorching criticism.

Alessandra Stanley, in the New York Times (of course!) defended Chase’s pulling his audience’s chain. It was just so ironic, after all.

There was no good ending, so “The Sopranos” left off without one.

The abrupt finale last night was almost like a prank, a mischievous dig at viewers who had agonized over how television’s most addictive series would come to a close. The suspense of the final scene in the diner was almost cruel. And certainly that last bit of song — “Don’t Stop Believing,” by Journey — had to be a joke.

After eight years and so much frenzied anticipation, any ending would have been a letdown. Viewers are conditioned to seek a resolution, happy or sad, so it was almost fitting that this HBO series that was neither comedy nor tragedy should defy expectations in its very last moments. In that way at least “The Sopranos” delivered a perfectly imperfect finish.

But the more demotic Nikki Finke wasn’t buying any alibis, and delivered a real denunciation.

The line to cancel HBO starts here. What a ridiculously disappointing end lacking in creativity to The Sopranos saga. … if David Chase, who wrote and directed the final episode, was demonstrating the existential and endless loop of Tony’s life or the moments before the hit that causes his death, it still robbed the audience of visual closure. And if it were done to segue into a motion picture sequel, then that kind of crass commercialism shouldn’t be tolerated. … There’s even buzz that the real ending will only be available on the series’ final DVD. Either way, it was terrible. Apparently, my extreme reaction was typical of many series’ fans: they crashed HBO’s website for a time tonight trying to register their outrage. HBO could suffer a wave of cancellations as a result. … Chase clearly didn’t give a damn about his fans. Instead, he crapped in their faces. This is why America hates Hollywood. Unlike some network series that end abruptly because broadcasters pull the plug without warning, The Sopranos has been slated for years to go off the air tonight. But instead of carefully crafted, this finale looked like it had been concocted in a day or two. (Some of the scenes were cut so abruptly, they caused whiplash.) … Chase needed to exert himself to a concoct an artful denouement. But he took the lazy way out. The show we all loved deserved a decent burial. Instead, it went into a black hole.

Two days later, people are still talking about that ending, as the New York Times reports today:

After he completed the final episode of “The Sopranos,” David Chase told publicity executives at HBO that he was leaving for France and would not take any calls asking him to comment about the ending of his classic television series.

He also said that he had instructed all of his writers and producers to turn down any requests for information about the decisions that had gone into shaping the show’s last chapter.

The reason for his resistance became clear on Sunday night when “The Sopranos” ended, not with a moment of final summation, but with a literal blank. The reaction to the stunning last shot of an empty screen has been a mix of outrage among some fans at being left sitting on the edges of their seats, where they had been perched for much of the show’s last batch of episodes, and awe among others who have always regarded the show as the most ambitious and unconventional of television series. …

and the Times found a bevy of suitably supportive screenwriters:

Damon Lindelof, one of the creators of the ABC hit show “Lost,” … said: “I’ve seen every episode of the series. I thought the ending was letter-perfect.” …

Doug Ellin, the creator of another HBO hit series, “Entourage,” said: “The show just ended, and I’m speechless. I’m sure there is going to be a lot of heated discussion, but that’s David Chase’s genius. …

For David Shore, creator of the Fox hit “House,” one of the best touches was Mr. Chase’s own refusal to discuss the ending. Mr. Shore said: “Obviously he wants us to speculate on what it all means. Obviously that’s what we’re all doing.”

David Milch, who has created highly regarded dramas like “NYPD Blue” and “Deadwood,” said: “It was a question of loyalty to viewer expectations, as against loyalty to the internal coherence of the materials. Mr. Chase’s position was loyalty to the internal dynamics of the materials and the characters.”

Chuck Lorre, who created and leads the CBS hit comedy “Two and a Half Men” (said:) “People just finished watching that show and immediately talked about it for a half-hour,” Mr. Lorre said. “That’s just wonderful. What more could you want as a writer?”

And Chase has evidently been sufficiently nettled by audience reactions that he actually spoke to Allen Sepinwall, in a long-rearranged interview, you understand.

I have no interest in explaining, defending, reinterpreting, or adding to what is there,” he says of the final scene (just before proceeding to defend it -DZ).

“No one was trying to be audacious, honest to God,” he adds. “We did what we thought we had to do. No one was trying to blow people’s minds, or thinking, ‘Wow, this’ll (tick) them off.’ People get the impression that you’re trying to (mess) with them and it’s not true. You’re trying to entertain them.”

09 Jun 2007

The Sopranos Finale


Ross Douthat‘s guess is that

the finale will end with the Soprano nuclear family still intact and even with Tony back on top, in some limited sense at least; if any mob boss gets capped in the final hour, I’m betting that it will be Phil Leotardo.

He links several other predictions, including Jeffrey Goldberg at Stale:

I think Tony survives next week; to kill him would be to send a message that crime doesn’t pay, and my guess is that David Chase believes that, in this corrupt world, crime does, in fact, sometimes pay, and to telegraph otherwise would be dishonest. This is not to say that I think Tony will get off without consequence: His travails this season suggest that the series will end on some sort of ambivalent note, something that underscores the tension and the physical and emotional dangers in the life Tony has chosen for himself.

Peggy Noonan mourns the show’s passing in the the Wall Street Journal:

The Sopranos” wasn’t only a great show or even a classic. It was a masterpiece, and its end Sunday night is an epochal event. With it goes an era, a time. …

The drama of Tony, the great post-9/11 drama of him, is that he is trying to hold on in a world he thinks is breaking to pieces. He has a sense, even though he’s only in his 40s, that the best times have passed, not only for the Italian mob but for everyone, for the country — that he’d missed out on something, and that even though he lives in a mansion, even though he is rich and comfortable and always has food in the refrigerator and Carm can go to Paris and the kids go to private school — for all of that, he fears he’s part of some long downhill slide, a slide that he can’t stop, that no one can, that no one will. Out there, he told his son and daughter, it is the year 2000, but in here it’s 1950. His bluster, his desperate desire to re-create order with the rough tools of his disordered heart and brain, are comic, poignant, ridiculous, human.

Tony became a new and instantly recognizable icon, and his character adds to American myth, to America’s understanding of itself. It’s a big thing to create such a character, and not only one but a whole family of them — Uncle Junior, Christopher, Carmella. This is David Chase’s great achievement, to have created characters that are instantly recognizable, utterly original, and that add to America’s understanding of itself. And to have created, too, some of the most horrifying moments in all of television history, and one that I think is a contender for Most Horrifying Moment Ever. That would be Adriana desperately crawling — crawling! — through the leaves in the woods as she tries to flee her lovable old friend Silvio, who is about to brutally put her down.

Here is a question that touches on the mystery of creativity, and I’ll probably put it badly because I can’t define it better than what I’m going to say. David Chase is the famous and justly celebrated creator of “The Sopranos,” the shaper of its stories. The psychological, spiritual and emotional energy needed to create a whole world, which is what he has done, is very great. It is a real expenditure, a kind of investment in life, a giving of yourself. You can’t do what he does without something like love. Not sentimentality or softness or sweetness, but love. And yet in a way, if you go by “The Sopranos,” Mr. Chase loves nothing. Human beings are appetite machines, and each day is devoted to meeting and appeasing those appetites. No one is good, there are no heroes, he sees through it all. The mental-health facility is a shakedown operation where they medicate your child into zombiehood and tell him to watch TV. Politicians are the real whores. The FBI is populated by smug careerists. In the penultimate show, a table full of psychotherapists top each other with erudite-seeming comments that show a ruthlessness as great as any gangster’s. I guess I’m asking where the energy for creativity comes when you see with such cold eyes.

Not that they’re unrealistic. They’re not. One of the reasons the show was so popular — one of the reasons it resonated — is that it captured a widespread feeling that our institutions are failing, all of them, the church, the media, the law, the government, that there’s no one to trust, that Mighty Mouse will not save the day.

In Mr. Chase’s world, everyone’s a gangster as long as he can find a gang. Those who don’t are free-lancers.

And what he seems to be telling us, as the final season ends, is that all your pity for Tony, all your regard for the fact that he too is caught, all your sympathy for him as a father, as a man trying to be a man, as a man whose mother literally tried to have him killed, is a mistake. Because he is a bad man. He has passing discomfort but not conscience, he has passing sympathies but no compassion. When he kills the character who is, essentially, his son, Christopher, he does it spontaneously, coolly, and with no passion. It’s all pragmatism. He’s all appetite. Tony is a stone cold gangster.

There have been shows on television that have been, simply, sublime. In drama there was “I, Claudius,” a masterpiece of mood and menace — “Trust no one!” — from which writers and producers continue to steal (see HBO’s “Rome.”) And PBS’s “Upstairs, Downstairs.” A few others. “The Sopranos” is their equal, but also their superior: It is hard to capture the past, but harder to capture the present, because everyone knows when you don’t get it right. It takes guts to do today.

David Chase did, and he made a masterpiece. I’ll be watching Sunday night, but I’ll wake up that morning with a blue moon in my eyes.

05 Apr 2007

The Sopranos

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Catch up on all six previous seasons in seven minutes. (Caution: foul language)


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