Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Whackus Interruptus

So there I was on the sofa, heart thundering wildly inside my chest, breathing hard and fast, waiting . . . waiting . . . waiting . . . AND THEN NOTHING!

I don't have to tell you how The Sopranos ended. Everyone knows by now that the screen went to black. Finito. The Big Fade-Out. One second we were looking at the diner/ice cream shop through Tony's eyes and then we weren't.

It was over.

And I was seriously pissed off.

Let me give you an idea how the conversation went between Roy and me that night.

ME: Something's terrible's on its way.
HIM: Better be soon. There's only fifteen minutes left.
ME: I know something awful's coming.
HIM: They'd better hurry. There's only eight minutes left.
ME: C'mon! C'mon already! Whack somebody! Whaddya waiting for?
HIM: Four minutes.
ME: So help me, if you give one more time bulletin I'm gonna--
HIM: Hey, look! The screen went black.

Last shows are rarely good shows. I didn't even like the final episode of the classic Mary Tyler Moore Show until a few years had passed and I was able to appreciate the beauty of the group hug. (Newhart [the Vermont show] was the rare exception. When he woke up and described this dream about running an inn in VT and the camera pulled back and we saw Suzanne Pleshette in bed with him--well, that's about as good as a TV ending can get.)

I've been thinking long and hard about The Sopranos swan song and while I can't say I loved it (not even close) I'm trying to understand what in the name of all things whackable David Chase was thinking. Was it a slice-of-life ending? Life goes on the way it went on for nine years and six seasons, just more of the same. Why did he torture us with Meadow's multiple attempts at parking her car?(Nancy, I read that the parking on that Bloomfield street is legendary for its awfulness. Is that true?)

Want a lesson in how to build tension to the breaking point in a viewer? The last fifteen minutes of that episode is the equivalent of four years in film school. I swear to you I broke into a sweat and almost hyperventilated. Was Meadow going to be killed? Was she going to walk into the diner in time to see her family executed? Was the building going to explode as she approached the door?

Was it all a dream and Tony was about to step out of his shower in North Caldwell, slip on his white bathrobe, and lumber downstairs in search of smoked turkey and mortadell'?

Who the hell knows. Maybe Chase wanted us to see and feel what life would be like for Tony from this point on. Looking over his shoulder, scanning faces for trouble, knowing the FBI is a half-step behind and getting closer. I'll admit I kind of think the fade to black marked the end of Tony Soprano's life. Abrupt. Brutal. Cruelly final.

Kind of fitting, all things considered.

crossposted to Romancing The Yarn


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