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 Goldisox 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.


Blogger Dallas Schulze said...

Not a Sopranos viewer, not likely to become one but, in reading about the ending, all I can think of is that maybe there's nothing symbolic or meaningful about it. Maybe they just couldn't figure out how to end it so some bright soul said "Hey, how about we just fade to black and leave the viewers to hash out what it all meant?"

Every writer has been there. Every writer has stared at the screen and thought "How the hell do I end this thing?" Maybe the whole parking the car,diner scene is less about ending a show than it is about just filling those final minutes. As we all know, not everything a writer does has meaning.

In reading the descriptions, I'm reminded of another shocking television moment: Bobby stepping out of the shower on Dallas. (Yeah, I'm dating myself here.) Although I didn't watch that show either, I don't think anyone suggested that scene had any meaning beyond the writers having written themselves in to a corner full of lower ratings and basically deciding to fall back ten and punt.

Maybe this is more of the same.

1:07 PM  
Blogger Nancy Herkness said...

Re: your parking question. It's honestly not all that hard to park there unless a school band concert has just finished (for some reason, everyone goes to Holsten's after band concerts). Also, for those in the know, there's a ratty-looking parking lot behind the row of buildings which you enter just half a block down the street.

Why Meadow suffered so, I don't know. Maybe she's just a ditz?

My husband's theory on the ending is that it showed how Tony and his family have to live all their lives: never knowing if the man sitting in his car is there to murder them or to have dinner.

1:55 PM  
Blogger Nancy Herkness said...

This comment is to try and force the blog entry to update and show more than "1 comments" (love the "s", don't you? Some programmer got lazy.) I'm used to being ignored by my children but I refuse to let a blog get the better of me.

7:28 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home