Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Departing Sopranos

The Family came to town last night for their annual press preview at Radio City (which I did not attend) and for a more intimate thematic gathering at the small museum where I toil.

As the series itself is facing its final hour (or final eight episode hours) we gathered together “whacked” Sopranos—those actors whose character had been killed off—along with master creator David Chase and Terry Winter, executive producer.

The dearly departed present were Steve Buscemi, "Tony Blundetto"; Drea de Matteo, "Adriana La Cerva"; Vincent Pastore, "Salvatore 'Big Pussy' Bonpensiero"; David Proval, "Richie Aprile"; and Annabella Sciorra, "Gloria Trillo"; with Bryant Gumbel moderating.

The evening had some very nice moments. Gumbel mentioned that it seemed only the women showed up in dream sequences after their demise. Steve Buscemi countered that he had been in a dream sequence, “or something”—referring to "Mayham" at the beginning of Season 6 when Blundetto shows up at the Finnerty reunion while Tony is in the coma. Chase said very clearly—“that wasn’t a dream sequence”—with a smile on his face. The salesman Tony parallel universe was intriguing in the context of the whole narrative.

Each of the cast talked about getting “the call”—the call they dreaded, from Chase, telling them they would be killed off. Vincent Pastore said this evening was like therapy, that it was nice to know that they really hadn’t been fired.

David Chase is an intense guy. I greatly admire the serious auteurs of television, who create and populate whole worlds that they can sustain over time. (Strange how many of the heavy hitters are named David: Chase, Milch, Shore, Simon, even Kelley).

I came to The Sopranos late, so I don’t have creds as a serious fan. I entered the world in season 6, after that long hiatus following season 5, and read through the earlier history. I wasn’t dazzled the way I was swept off my feet by Deadwood, but I got hooked on the compelling drama, with its equal parts of the familiar—family issues, faith, the Church, Irish/Italian rivalries and putdowns (I just LOVE that parallel universe Tony’s name was Kevin Finnerty ha!ha!)—and the completely foreign—i.e., the banality of serious crime intersecting with genuine evil as a way of life, as even a family business.

The big question, of course, is how does it end? What happens to Tony? Do the Feds get him? Do the New York families put a hit out on him? Does he somehow become Kevin Finnerty, a solar-heating salesman? What happens to Carmela and the kids, and the rest of the Family?

The series comes back on Easter Sunday. Cute, for a show bringing us sin, death, and either a search for redemption or a rejection of it. Any predictions?

Cross-posted at newcritics


Anonymous said...

But where was Joey Pants?


Anonymous said...

Just saw the first episode. If I were a betting man (besides poker) I'd say they are setting Tony up for prison. Also willing to bet that the last episode will suck. Can you think of a major series that ended with a really good episode? Nada.

Mapeel said...

Welcome, Mr. Ed.

The Sopranos ending with Tony in prison: Wouldn't that be a shout-out to Seinfeld? (Only kidding). As for good series ends: Angel (didn't feel that at the time, only looking back), and Fraiser, the same thing.