Tuesday, June 05, 2007

What The Hell's The Matter With You?

Not only do I have a lot to say about our first personal training experience, I am including diagrams, because I think they really help to convey why I will not be seeing that personal trainer again ever.

But diagrams take time, since I am hardly skilled.

So instead, because I am woefully behind in entries, I wanted to talk to you about something near and dear to my heart. Something personal, something I've not had the temerity to tackle here in blogland.

And yet I think the time has come.

I'm speaking of course of The Sopranos. (Could you tell? That heading was my best Tony impression. Good, huh?)

Now, if you have not been following this season, or haven't caught up on all episodes yet, then don't read any further. I'm not sure I'll be providing spoilers or anything, but I don't want to have to edit myself either.


So let me ask you all this: WHAT THE FUCK?

Way back a million years ago, I stopped watching ER at the same time I stopped watching NYPD Blue. I can only handle so many absurd tragedies. You keep killing off my favorite characters, eventually I will have no reason to watch.

Sopranos was different. Sopranos killed off important characters, sure. But sparingly. Importantly. Think how long it took for poor Pussy to meet his demise. Ralphie? Richie?

And Adriana? Christophuh!

Since the beginning, David Chase (et al) have gone to great lengths to treat the drama carefully. There is form and structure. They artfully provide foreshadowing, imagery and symbolism. The scripts were meticulously developed. And for all the highly entertaining mobster banter, I have never heard teenaged characters more believable than Meadow and AJ.

But I'm disappointed.

Maybe it's just that I prefer the hopeful to the morose, the humorous to the tragic. But I loved The Sopranos in the beginning because, through all the grit and stark violence, Tony -- and the whole Soprano clan -- was so human.

That was the whole point, remember? Tony was conflicted, and even if he didn't know why, we did. We saw that he couldn't reconcile his seedy, bloody everyday world with the soft, cushy goodness of his family and home life. The other guys could, and did. But not Tony. It made him more accessible and likeable. It put us on his side. If Tony is the "good" bad guy, then surely he deserves to come out on top.

Invisible Internet Friends Who Are Reading This Random Tirade, I have to say: I do NOT like where the story arc is going.

There's only one episode left, and there's just too much bad to undo, too many ghosts.

I feel as though the earlier seasons had the plot (and Tony's character) wound up very tightly. There would be trouble, some of the trouble would run deep, but The Soprano Family was in control. They were a royalty of sorts. And I had hope, right up until this season, that it would stay that way.

I wanted there to be breakthroughs and revelations -- sure, some bad decisions (poor Ad, but what are you going to do?) -- but when all was said and done, I wanted Tony to be there, on this throne, his wife and kids beside him as he forevermore ruled New Jersey. Still controlled, still in control.

The character of Phil Leotardo has burst onto the scene this season in full force, and he is quite a device. Phil is nothing like Tony. He both embodies and points out all the weaknesses in the Sopranos that have either been overlooked or overcome up to now.

He thinks of Tony's operation as something of a glorified crew.

But we hate Phil! We know better!

Or, don't we? Didn't we?

With one more episode to go, it's looking like Phil's worst assessment of the "pygmies" from New Jersey is accurate. Tony's whole world is unraveling at lightning speed.

And I'm pissed.

I mean, I didn't expect the series to end in sunshine and lollipops, but I did expect it to end with some dignity. As Tony's ship is sinking, it's feeling more and more like he's being exposed. The curtain's being pulled back, and suddenly he seems incompetent. As though his power was an illusion, and his team was unworthy and incompetent this whole time. The speed with which the show is creating the Soprano Family's complete destruction is sad. It shouldn't be this easy.

And as an audience member, I feel cheated.

I've spent the last SEVEN YEARS watching, invested. I mean, when I think about that, it's crazy. The very first time I ever heard of The Sopranos, I was sitting at the dinner table of my now-ex-in-laws. I was living in my apartment with Dave and we weren't even married yet.

My point is, it's been a really long haul, and I've stayed tuned in. I've kept my HBO subscription. I've stuck it out between seasons. I watched on Sunday nights to see new episodes with Dave in our apartment in Stamford, with Dave in our house in Fairfield, with with El_G in my apartment in San Francisco, with El_G in our apartment in San Francisco, and now with Pete, on the DVR.

AND FOR WHAT?

To have Tony's entire crew taken down like it's nothing? To have it all end, just like that?

No, no, no. This was not how it was supposed to go. Not at all.

This Sunday better be good.

6 comments:

  1. I feel as if you dissatisfaction is the actual point. We've come to accept Tony's double life as a normal occurance. We actually root for him to get out of sticky situations. What his abrupt demise symbolizes is that reality is never too far behind. Like gavity, or ebb & flow. Eventually the tides change...sometimes gradually, sometimes in a flash. Your disappointment is a shining example of David Chase's brilliance. You care so much about Tony that you cannot accept his powerless circumstances. You must ask yourself as you rewatch the series after it ends next week, wws Tony really all that good of a leader? Or did he get complacent? Maybe theres something to that theory proposed by Dr. Melfi's collegue......

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  2. I felt the same way when I used to watch NYPD Blue - - I would NEVER miss an episode. I loved the characters. I loved watching how their lives unfolded, both the good and the bad.

    BUT - - When they killed off Bobby Simone, I turned off the show, and didn't come back.

    I was pissed. :-)

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  3. Ericha2@yahoo.com4:29 PM, June 05, 2007

    K,

    Not sure if you read this already, but Tim Goodman's deconstructions of the Sopranos on SFGate.com under The Bastard Machine is fantastic reading. Not so much the deco itself as the hundreds of comments. I read every week just to see what everyone is thinking about what has happened and what will happen next week.

    The Blue Comet was especially hard to watch. Although, you must admit, Tony has killed or oestracised (sorry for killing that word) all of his best men this season. All that's left is Paulie. And he almost offed him on the boat a few weeks back. I think what Chase is making us realize is that Tony really isn't a good guy. He's a bad dude, not the fuzzy teddy bear of seasons past.

    Anyway, if you have the time...check out The Bastard Machine, you might find the comments insightful and helpful to you in explaining where this is all going.

    Later!

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  4. Ok, so this is not at all about the Sopranos (sorry, I don't watch it), but I just read this article, and I thought you might enjoy it... :)

    http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/?storyID=7036

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  5. i agree... chase is making us face that tony isn't such a good bad guy, just bad. i think paulie walnuts is gonna go ape shit. and how can they possibly end the series in 65 minutes. it'll be the last one. ever.

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  6. All I can say is thanks for the spoiler warning. I'm only 1/2 way through season 3, and at work I have to keep yelling at people NOT to tell me what happened.

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