Monday, June 11, 2007

not so bad after all...

so at it's best, last night's final episode of the Sopranos had most of America wondering if their collective satellite and cable connections went out, and at worst, had them groaning and wondering if that was really the ending. i'll admit that like much of America, I was torqued and ready to scream last night (i'll thank baby Simon's presence for preventing me from going off). HOWEVER, after thinking about it, it could be one of the BEST series finales ever. Yes, I said ever.

Leave it to a sports radio hack to sell me, but this morning Colin Cowherd's ESPN Radio show made a compelling argument for last night's finale as pure genius. So here's his rationale with a few points of my own:

1) most season finales stray from the show's original formula.
think Seinfeld. remember that feeling. Seinfeld's last episode tried to do so many things that by it's end, the audience wanted it to be over.

2) it was true to the Sopranos "realism". the Sopranos has always been more of a real-life mob story. what was the last big mob hit you read about in the paper? exactly. the show started with Tony seeking counseling help, moving on to family problems, having legal issues, and more family problems with a few mob hits mixed in. so while AJ's moping and Tony's pending court case may not be as titillating as having every last character whacked, it's true to the series' history.

3) we're all talking about it.
there's nothing David Chase wants more than for all of America to be debating and talking over the episode the next day. again, remember when Seinfeld used to be the fodder of water cooler banter? well, not after their abysmal finale. I had several colleagues who NEVER watch the show ask me about it today. so having every radio station from talk to sports bantering makes good business sense for Chase and Co.

4) did you really want to see Paulie whack Tony? Mr. Men's Restroom whack Tony? Tony whack Paulie? or Tony whack AJ? well, I'll admit that I wouldn't mind the latter two, but remember that most of the past Sopranos seasons, depicted characters acting out until the HAD to be whacked. you can't whack everybody. Some seasons (I want to say Season 2) had nary a whacking, while others had more characters bite it, but in all cases, the hit usually came after a long percolation period.

5) open ended is always better to tying up loose ends. whether reading a book or watching a movie, it always takes more guts, but is more rewarding when an author or director leaves the ending open for interpretation. is the guy in the bathroom going to whack Tony? are the young punks at the jukebox in on the hit? will Meadow end up the victim of a botched hit (a la Godfather 3)? all of the conjecture is fodder for blog movie wishes, or webisode dreams. even if a movie never comes out and Gandolfini never reprises the role (how can he ever be seen as another character by the way?), by not tying up all the loose ends, there's room for speculation. sure there are those who wanted, maybe even needed to see Tony get whacked, but personally, I'm glad the only death was Phil's. it's nice that Chase was brave enough to leave such a jarring cut to black. he left himself some options. who knows when money dries up, maybe this non-ending will allow for a movie or 7th season. if it never happens, i'm still content.

6) the harsh cut to black was pretty cool. sloop asked if we were having TiVo problems and it wasn't until I checked that I was sure. by this morning, it was nice to discover that all viewers were sent scrambling for their remotes. pulling off a prank like that on such a large viewing audience is hard to do in this info age. well played Chase. I just hope no dogs were kicked for "laying on the remote"

so, i'm sure that these arguments for leave holes for some, and it's all subjective anyway, but the more time i reflect, the more content i am. and honestly, the more brilliant the ending seems to be.


At 11:13 PM, Blogger Sloop said...

a) I'm amazed that it's taken my this long to notice you posted about this.
b) I totally agree with your points. The ending was shocking & puzzling & frustrating at first, but after 10 days of rumination now, I wouldn't have it any other way. It was pretty brilliant. The "open to interpretation" quality of the ending will have us guessing forever. And, if the show is read as an analogy for American life, then like real life, we DON'T know what's going to happen next, ever, really.
c) There is no spoon! Or point "C"!


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