Monday, June 11, 2007

Thanks but no thanks, David Chase

(Spoiler alert: if you have not yet seen the Sopranos finale, you're going to hear about it somewhere. May as well be here. Read on...)

The Sopranos. It was once one of my favorite shows. But for some reason, in the last few years it's become more like a bad relationship. Most of us have had those relationships where we know that we should probably leave... we've been putting more into it than we're getting out of it for quite some time... yet, for some reason- we always stay a little too long.

but why?

Is it for the memories? There were some great times that we spent together back in the days when Tony kept Dr. Melfi a secret. When everything was so uncertain- if Big Pussy Bompensaro could become an informant and swim with the fishes, no one was safe! There was so much excitement back then.

And the laughs that we've had together. Tony's wacky dreams. Tony's mother was always good for a laugh. There was the time that Paulie was followed around by ghosts of the guys he had whacked. And the madcap episode in Pine Barrens where Paulie and Christopher's involvement with a Russian seemed more like a Three Stooges episode than The Sopranos. We sure did laugh over that one.

Ahhh, memories.

Of course, we had our rough spots: Janice.

But through the good times and the scenes with Janice in them, things eventually turned a bit sour. It's hard to pinpoint when. Maybe I stuck it out longer than some fans, but I really thought it was going to work out. Sure, the last three seasons have been anticlimactic, but they've had their moments of redemption. Didn't it make it season 5 worthwhile to watch Adriana puke on the FBI?

Okay, maybe I'm an enabler. The truth is that The Sopranos peaked somewhere around season 3, and it's not been able to live up to it's own standards ever since. Still, I could never give it up. I put up with the suspense of waiting months and months for the next season. I let James Gandolfini toy with my emotions each season he claimed it was going to be his last. I'm a tool, an enabler, codependent... all of those wishy-washy terms for "sucker." That's me.

When I sat down to watch the premiere of Season 6, part 2 (Part 2? That should've been a red flag right there!) I tried not to get my hopes up, but I wanted greatness. I'm glad that I didn't get my hopes up because I did not witness greatness. I finished that first episode of the return of season 6, and I said the same thing I've said for all 9 of the final episodes. "I'm so glad this is over." I never stopped watching, though. I sat through every single episode and waited it out. After about 3 of the final 9 episodes, I started to get anxious. Why was everything moving at such a slow pace? There were a lot of loose ends to tie up over the last 8 years, and the scenes were dragging on and on with more Janice, and the disturbed young son of Vito Spatafore. The sixth season was producing even more sappy stories that I just wanted to fast-forward through. But of course I didn't, I just waited and pinned all of my hopes onto the series finale. Last night, I was ready.

I watched with a friend who was certain that Tony was going to die. This is about the 8th time that he's been certain that Tony was going to die, but this time he was really really certain that it was going to happen approximately 21 minutes into the episode. (And I thought I was a sucker!) I was not on board with Tony dying in the finale, I was sure that the episode would end and the credits would roll without any of us knowing if Tony was still alive or not. I guess you could say that's true. It wasn't entirely clear what the guy in the Members Only jacket was up to, and we don't know what Meadow saw when she opened the door of that diner. It doesn't matter. What matters is that everything that has been frustrating me about this show culminated in the final scene. Everything that's been making me miserable: the obscurities, the unresolved plot lines- they were all there in one final "screw you!" from David Chase. So, no one knows what happened to Tony and the family. The final episode suggested even more possibilities than those they had been building to. Did the chummy FBI guy convince them to enter the witness protection program? Who knows?

David Chase, that's who. David Chase is the one who has been keeping this dysfunctional tv show/audience relationship going for years. I should have broken it off years ago, but I couldn't find it in myself to let go. Now, I have no choice but to give it up and I'm left with that final image of onion rings and bad parallel parking. What was it all about? What did it all mean?

I'll tell you what it means for me... I'm a sucker.
I'm so glad it's over.
RIP: The Sopranos, 1999-2007.


Jon Gold said...

"Tony's mom was always good for a laugh?"

Either you have the most inky, dark sense of humor I've ever seen, or...well, I can't think of anything else. I'm a little scared, frankly.

Jon Gold said...

Also, Janice was really freaking annoying.