Thursday, May 17, 2007

Not with a Bang

Another interesting move on the television front is the disappointment being voiced with the final round of Sopranos episodes. For example here is another Associated Press Television Writer, Frazier Moore:

These days, the main heat associated with this HBO drama is the heat Tony and his fellow Jersey mobsters are packing. But even if, now, in its final season, "The Sopranos" isn't the phenomenon it once was, the series conclusion should be a towering event.

Why? From the first episode in January 1999, Tony Soprano was a man with no way out. Since then, he's been a father, husband and criminal living on borrowed time — time shared unforgettably with viewers. On June 10, time is up for this masterpiece. It ought to be a scorcher.

Reading this makes me wonder if Mr. Moore ever bothered to take the "long view" of the entire series. From that perspective the overall narrative line has been one of a steady and ineluctable descent. Furthermore, it is a descent fueled by the actions of earlier series and their inevitable consequences. With each new episode one feels as if another chicken previous encountered is coming home to roost.

Perhaps it is that sense of inevitability that Mr. Moore finds so disagreeable. If so, then he is probably not alone. Our reaction to our entertainment is probably a reflection of what, in one post, I called "our addiction to the deus ex machina concept" and, in another, I called "Secular Messianism." To invoke Delmore Schwartz again, we just don't want responsibilities to be contingent upon our dreams: Dreams that give birth to responsibilities just can't be "real" dreams in our world-view.

Will The Sopranos go out with a "scorcher?" I have no idea, and I am sure that HBO will keep that secret closely guarded until the final episode airs. Right now Tony is somewhere alongside the Macbeth who is delivering his "Tomorrow" speech on the ramparts of his castle. The weird sisters (who may reside strictly in his own infested conscience) have confronted him with his path of descent. He grouses about it but does not contest it. Tony has a few weird sisters of his own (not necessarily by blood); and he is clearly getting the message. Will he endure a thundering fall at the hand of some yet-to-be-determined Macduff, or will he end with Eliot's whimper? The narrative can still go either way, and that is what makes it worth watching!

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