Monday, June 11, 2007

Most Totally Original Topic Ever: The Sopranos

So, the Soprano's finale. I think I agree with Mr. Klein's take on the matter – too much like the blood-soaked finish to some 3-camera mafioso sitcom for my tastes. The whole season's been a downbeat from previous glories, really. Only serves to confirm my growing theory that most television shows overstay their welcome.

But, since I'm doing a little script writing of my own, and having to wrestle with a particularly difficult ending of my own, I took special interest in that final fade to black at the end there. Yes, I think it's a horrid cop-out.

But I also think it's an interesting trick. The writers of the Soprano's, after all, were in an unenviable spot. No matter how they ended the show – no matter which waveform collapsed out of Schroedinger's whack on Tony – they were going to leave part of their audience base disappointed (And, although the story's ostensibly finished, in this day and age of DVD sales and secondary markets, it's smart business not to piss off those potential future customers.). So, they split the difference. By ending the show about 2 seconds before the plot resolves, they leave the answer in the hand of each and every viewer. Everybody gets to make up their own little ending (And, of course, argue about it until the end of time) and, in theory, walk away happy. If you wanted the happy ending, with Tony alive and his problems more or less solved, you got it. If you wanted Tony to suffer some kind of dramatic retribution for all his crimes and finally get his comeuppance, well, you can read it that way, too. If you think a life of constantly looking over his shoulder and waiting for the hit that never comes is a fitting justice, you can get that, too. It's all in how you interpret not just the ending but the entire series.

It's perhaps to the credit of those same creators that, as far as I can tell, the reaction to such a move is generally negative – they've been conditioned to such excellence that they aren't going to settle for the cop-out. For myself, the move is as disappointing as the rest of the season. For different reasons, though. Ending the series on a rorschach blot without giving a resolution is a weak move, writing-wise. It's one that betrays a certain cowardice on behalf of the authors. An incapacity to carry through their convictions. Or that they never had those convictions in the first place. I'm not sure which is worse.

No comments: