Thursday, June 14, 2007


Obviously, David Chase doesn’t care what you and I think about his controversial, non-ending of The Sopranos. So what? To him, it’s already old news. Let’s move on, nothing to see here. “I have no interest in explaining, defending, reinterpreting, or adding to what is there,” he said. Bang. Well, that clearly has a last-nail-in-the-coffin finality to it.

But Chase earned his hard-won arrogance. As a veteran TV writer who fought bravely in the battlefields of programs like Northern Exposure and The Rockford Files, I’m sure corporate suits have unbuttoned their trousers and rained on his dreams more than once. How many times can you argue about Art to color-blind idiots who can’t see a rainbow because they can’t find the profit margin inside? Thanks to his profitable and critically-acclaimed gangster soap opera, Chase is finally in a position of power. So why shouldn’t he do what he wants? Would Michael Corleone kiss Fredo’s pinky ring?

Although it’s true that you can’t overestimate the value of a good writer (for proof, just take a long, hard look at all the empty, overproduced, special effects-heavy but narrative-challenged “epics” in Hollywood), I do think Chase’s anger is misplaced. First of all, HBO did green-light The Sopranos the other major television networks turned it down, and did give Chase the creative freedom he needed. More importantly, this unsatisfying, lazy cop-out of a conclusion to a groundbreaking TV series was a betrayal to the people whose loyalty and support made The Sopranos a hit from the beginning: the audience.

We’ve seen what happens when TV and movies are dumbed down to that infamous lowest common denominator. As Bill Cosby said, “I don’t know the secret of success, but I do know that failure is what happens when you try to please everybody.” The Sopranos never treated the audience like boobs. It made money, got huge ratings, and even received enthusiastic high fives from literary highbrows.

Still, you didn’t need a college degree to see that the last Sopranos episode fell limply between a bang and a whimper. The end of a classic TV series is an important landmark. It’s the final opportunity to tie up loose ends, find some type of closure, and reaffirm whatever it was that the show was Trying To Say. Six Feet Under did it, as well as M*A*S*H, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, St. Elsewhere, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and Homicide. But The Sopranos didn’t. It was a shot in the back of the head at night in the middle of nowhere.

David Chase welched on a deal he made with us. One hand washes the other, capisce? If he did that to Tony Soprano, the big lummox would’ve busted both his legs. Yo, David, why are you pissed off at us, huh?

Didn’t you get everything you wanted?