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Sopranos: Final Season (Spoilers)
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jdw
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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2007 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote



I really haven't cared for the last few episodes anymore than the one were Chris got offed. I've hated the AJ character from the start of the show, but we've been luckily spared from him impacted the show too much. An episode or so a season would have a subplot over what a loser he is, but we'd move on. Now we have Depressed AJ eating up the show. I can't tell you how much I was hoping he would pull off the suicide to put the character and us out of our misery. But it's fucking Chase, so we knew AJ would bumble it and Tony would arrive in time to save the day... and all the expected shit that followed - AJ to the looney bin, Tony with the trip to Melfi's, Carm making a visit without Tony (who is off taking care of something else), and the cheap sentimental shot of Tony going to the looney bin at the end to visit his son.

The issues with New York are getting tiring. I'm running this into the ground, but... Johnny Sack was long an interesting character in the NY Family with oversight on the Jersey Mob. Tony is a brute force mobster short on brains and finese, while Johnny had both along with the power of a NY Family behind him that could bring the brute force if needed. Phil "Billy Batts" Leotardo is little more than Tony with more power. Whereas one wonder if Johnny would work a subtle longterm angle that would have Sil take out Tony "for the good of business", Phil comes across as one who would simply shoot up Tony's SUV and not give a fuck about it. Sure... Chase my pull another rock out of his ass by having Phil use someone in Tony's group to kill Tony. But it would be typical of later day Chase - having someone act out of their character, in this case Phil not taking the straight forward approach that he always does.

Among my many issues with the show in its slide, this tends to go to the heart of it - Chase has dumbed down the show as he's run out of steam on it. The early years has all sorts of angles, layers and subtle things going on beneath the brutal things that grabbed ones attention. It just isn't there anymore. It's a stunt show working highspots.

I think the contrast would be to watch the third seasons of Deadwood opposite of the last 3-4 of the Sopranos, then going back to watch the first three of the Sopranos. Right to the end of the third season of Deadwood, there were Swearengen and Hearst, two fucking brutal men willing to do almost anything to protect their interests, working extremely subtle and layered plans and courses of action. Those around then, and we the viewer, were often wondering what their game was. For the view, it made the show a rewarding *challenge* to follow, play along, guess what came next, and often be nicely surprised.

The Sopranos stopped being challenging several seasons back. Unless it's the challenge of watching a series get stretched out with roughly three seasons of filler.


John
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eron



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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2007 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Iron Chad wrote:
When was the last time a movie used "Comfortably Numb" and it didn't lead to or deal with a scene about somebody dying or about to die?


Well... Departed used it more as a good song to fuck to... I think.

Eron
Maybe missed the point...
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Frank_Jewett
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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2007 7:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looking back, some of the best Sopranos plots were the ones we were dreaming up and applying to moments from Chase's aimless wandering.

There was a moment when Uncle Junior explained to Tony that Little Carmine taking over wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing because Little Carmine was a fool who could be exploited. At that moment I thought Chase had been weaving an intricate trap where Tony and the audience would suddenly realize that Johnny Sack had backed Tony from the start because he thought Tony was a putz who would be easier to fool than Uncle Junior. Suddenly Johnny's reckless decision to support Tony behind Junior's back made perfect sense rather than looking like a contrivence.

Of course as JDW pointed out, Uncle Junior had been little more than a stooge heel in season one. Chase had been inconsistent by developing Junior from the character Silvio described as "Joe Jerkoff" into the wise leader who Tony turned to whenever he was in trouble. Looking back, many of Chase's great ideas were actually resets that were simply more appealing. Chase had me fooled for another season or so until Johnny suddenly ran out of steam when it was revealed that he had no master plan. He had simply been a loyal follower until he felt like the loyalty wasn't being returned, at which point he turned to the Fred Flintstone of mafiosos to try to secure a promotion. Johnny never had a plan. Whatever depth I thought I saw was simply my imagination.

That's the upshot of the series. One by one, happy accidents that were mistaken for interesting ideas have fallen by the wayside. In the end, one is left wondering if the show was ever "that good" or if one was simply caught up in the moment.

Frank
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jdw
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PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2007 9:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One of these years, when well removed from the currrently mythology of the show, it will be interesting to rewatch it from the begining and figure out if that is a good cutting point. In other words, a point where it would have been vastly better as a "cult tv show that didn't draw ratings" and had gotten cancelled at that point.

There are some shows that are like that. They went out before they got long of tooth, and exposed Creative of running out of steam rather than having strong long term plans.

I think Deadwood will end up being one of those, as Creative seemed to have enough left in mind to do that filling 4 hours to give closure shouldn't be too tough.

Other, like Homicide, would have been better off getting cancelled after about four seasons.

Godfather is of course the ultimate example of this. Smart movie viewers are best served to pretend that Godfather 3 never happened. :)

Anway...

I agree largely with Frank. It's possible that Chase lucked into the first few seasons that that there wasn't the depth to the show that we read into it. It's also possible that he had a firm grasp on things early in the show, and while not exactly knowing where he was headed in the long run, knew where he was at *then*. With the show taking off, becoming a cultural icon, the massive cash coming into HBO and via DVD, and the pressure to keep the thing going on... it's possible that it caused him to lose the grasp he had back then. Rather than telling tighter stories, or crafting tighter arcs, the point became to stretch things out.

I haven't got a clue which it is.


John
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Old School John



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 9:01 am    Post subject: Sopranos (some spolier stuff) Reply with quote

So... What did you guys think of the penultimate episode? I've been bagging on the series for several months now, but I actually think this one worked (mostly).

I knew that Bobby (the most likable of the gangsters) was going to get whacked, but the scene with the train set interspersed with the shooting was very well done. We still had far too much AJ (actually, any AJ is far too much).

Carm and Rosalie looking at the photos of their vacation while Tony's trying to explain that a gang war is in progress was priceless; as was the total indifference to the situation that Rosalie showed... (I've always thought they could have done a bit more with the character...)

Sil buys it? So much for my theory of Sil emerging as the head of what's left of the Soprano family.

Paulie still unscathed? I'll be amazed if he doesn't buy it in the last episode, although with better writing it would make perfect sense for Paulie to ally himself with the NY family and take Tony out as a good move for business.

I hope we've seen the last of Melfi and Elliot.
The level of unproffessional behaviour shown at the dinner borders on malpractice. I realize that they needed to write her out at some point, but this was so over-the-top as to be completely absurd.

Another missed opportunity was to have Furio back as one of the hitmen. That could have served to provide even more tension for Tony (no shrink to talk to, consigliore dead, brother-in-law dead, etc.)

Still, this wasn't as bad as most of the recent filler episodes have been. My prediction for next week is to have the entire family wiped out by Phil. Lazy writing, but that's sort of what I've come to expect...

Cheers,

OSJ
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Iron Chad



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the core of the Soprano family (yes, even AJ -- even though it's a Mafia show, Chase has always said the core of the show was Tony & Carmela) and Paulie Walnuts survive (I liked that even though he's been mobbed up longer than any other major Mafia character on the show, when it comes down to it, he's not even important enough to whack when NY wants the NJ family to fall).

I'm still leaning towards Tony ratting out NY to the feds, since he's got no core mob family left. I think the fact he's been so concerned about how much the FBI appreciated his tip on the "guys in turbans that hung out at the Bing", might be a bit for foreshadowing.

Bobby's whacking was cool, especially since it was Bobby's stupid trains that caused Tony to get shot by Junior when Bobby begged off on checking on Junior so B could play conductor. I laughed when I shouldn't've because when they showed the close-up of Bobby's carcass on the wrecked model train set, all I could think of was Rev. Lovejoy from the Simpsons when Flanders kept bugging him when he wanted to just play with his trains, "LORD, why do you hate my trains?!?!?"

I agree with OSJ that in a season of mostly crap, this episode worked pretty well. Really though it could've been done a season or two ago, worked just as well, and left a lot of luster on the Sopranos legacy.

-Chad
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jdw
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 11:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was pretty "eh" about it.

Wacknig Bobby was perfectly well done, but the comments by Phil's gang perfectly captured how fucked up the writing has been the past few years:

"Didn't he use to be Junior's driver?"

The elevation of Bobby into being #3 in the Jersey Family is pretty nonsensical. If Chase was every headed in that direction, he could have spend the first half of this season (Season 6-A) establishing that Bobby having finally gotten a chance at being a Lt. is actually a strong earner with good ideas, in contrast to Paulie and Christopher continuing to be thug fuck ups.

If Chase really was a genius and had been arcing this out for a long time, rather than just making up most of it as he went along and stretching it out, we would have had lots of stuff over the years of Bobby being smarter than he looked when it came to making money. A but naive and innocent in some ways so that it never was thought the he might be one to turn on Tony, but having a nose for earning and picking up info of potential scams.

Then it would have made sense down the stretch in Season 6-B that, with Tony losing confidence in Chris, not trusting Paulie at all, and his best earner Vito being whacked in 6-A, that he starts grudgingly turning to Bobby.

Most of the best lines when to Phil and his people. The one above, and the whole rant by Phil prior to that on what a bunch of fuck ups the Jersey Family was (including finally dropping the Five Families reference). What really was needed, though, was something similar to what Paulie wanted out of Sil - that the hit had been "approved". Paulie wanted to know the Tony approved of whacking Phil. What Phil's Consigliore should have slipped in were two lines, with Phil responding:

Quote:
Consigliore: "This part of Jersey has always been under us, so I understand it's yours to take care of how you see fit. But would this cause us any problems with any of out partners?"

Phil: "No. They understand and agree it's my fucking issue to take care of."


Or something like that. In essence that Phil has gotten Commission approval to take out the top of the Jersey family.

In reality, part of the Jersey mob was in a sense an "underfamily" to one of the Five. And in the 90s the NY Family moved against it in a wild bloody war, which led to the head of the Jersey family going Witness Protection and turning on the NY Family.

Phil may not exactly need approval for family that's traditionally under his Family's control. But so that people don't get mixed up in the crossfire, and so that if Tony goes looking for support from another of the Five, it would be something that he would generally clear with the rest of the Commission.


As far as the rest of the show...

What looks like the "finish" to the storyline of Dr. Melfi is just a horrendous clusterfuck. Bing-Bang she throws in the towel. Granted, she's looked bored out of her mind dealing with him this season and last season (and several before that). But it pretty much was a half-episode build to it, and then over a stupid arguement. Just weak. It would have been far more interesting if it happened earlier in the season (or in last season), and Tony deciding he needed to whack her because she "knew too much". It would have been the "right" finish to the storyline.

The whole AJ storyline is terrible, and continues to be terrible. If this is where Chase always wanted to go with AJ, he should have gotten it taken care of several seasons ago. It's just a clusterfuck as the show is trying to wrap up.

Sil getting shot... it's too bad since one thought that he might have killed the other person earlier in the show to cover his own tracks. And that Phil's orders would have been to take out Tony, Sil, Paulie and Bobby... with Bobby and Paulie getting it while Sil "gets away" with Tony. It would have left it open for next week for Sil to take Tony out. The whole point of the War was to take out the people most loyal to Tony and/or those who wouldn't work for Sil. Bobby was loyal to Tony. Paulie wouldn't work for Sil.

And have Sil earlier in the final show have sent someone to take out Janet since she's such a loose cannon (that is, if she wasn't taken out with Bobby). My choice would have been to send Benny Fazio (a/k/a Vinnie of Doogie Howser game) - give him one nice moment, and show that he's one of "Sil's Guys".

I agree that it would have been nice to bring Furio back, but of course he wouldn't have fucked up the hit on Phil. :) So they had to go to inept guys from Europe.

This thing can end soon enough for me.


John
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Frank_Jewett
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jdw wrote:
If Chase really was a genius and had been arcing this out for a long time, rather than just making up most of it as he went along and stretching it out, we would have had lots of stuff over the years of Bobby being smarter than he looked when it came to making money. A but naive and innocent in some ways so that it never was thought the he might be one to turn on Tony, but having a nose for earning and picking up info of potential scams.


Chase had Tony's sister pushing Bobby to focus on earning when they first hooked up. If Bobby being smart was out of the question, she could have been the brains of the operation, a repeat of Livia pushing fuck up Johnny ahead. It's a simple Lady MacBeth storyline, but it would have made sense particularly in a world where Janice needed to use a surrogate to get over on her brother and the rest of the boys. The final season would have built toward Janice pushing Bobby to kill Tony with Bobby struggling over which one deserved his loyalty. It would have given Chase a nice opportunity to have one of Janice's conquests turn the tables and send her into Tony's "witness protection program" in a bag.

Of course Tony promoting a fuck up based on family ties is plausible, that's essentially been Chrissy's story, off and on, for several seasons, so maybe Chase was simply outing Tony as the goof we've long suspected. Maybe the punchline on those in the business who've enjoyed the show is that they are all goofs?

Frank
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corrado



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PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well it ended and all the messageboards I have gone on, everyone is confused over the ending of the show. Classic WHAT THE FUCK.

Looks like Jdw etc were right regarding Chase not being a genius.

Corrado
personally I would've ended the show with David Chase telling Meadow "Maybe a movie". (Points to whoever gets that reference.)
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Rian



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PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It went to black, because the viewing window on the Sopranos has ended...but they'll continue to live their lives, we just can't watch it.


Glad I only watched the last 10 or so minutes of this episode this final season, looks like I didn't miss a thing.
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jdw
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 9:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ugh. Cop out finish.

One could see that one or more of the other Five Families would benefit from Phil getting killed and that family having a head more willing to work with the other Families. One could see that... if it were established.

One *couldn't* see that Tony would be allowed to live, especially if he headed the crew that took out Phil. New York simply can not allow a crew like New Jersey to come out of a was with a New York Family with anything resembling what they wanted when starting the war, which in the case was Phil dying.

Tony thinking he's won, going back to "normal life", only to see the peace table had been nothing but a set up to (a) have him do the dirty work on Phil, and (b) then drop his guard... that's what New York would do. And it would be Phil's successor's job to take Tony out to hold up his end of the deal in the other of the Five allowing Phil to be killed.

The rest of the show was a bunch of "wrap up" nonse such as Janice and Tony's having their last conversation, both of them each getting a last shot at Junior, all the shit with the kids, a completely useless visit of Tony to the hospital with Sil, Tony giving the "earning" crew of the family to Paulie because he hasn't got a fucking other person to turn to...

None of that really had much bite with me.

Pretty much a jerk off.


John
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eron



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PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 10:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wanted the episode to feature most of the action in the house as they wrap things up with Tony getting backstabbed and dying in the end, while Phil shows just how powerful he was, compared to the rag tag Jersey mob. I think the proper ending would have been an honest ending: Tony Soprano is a nobody.

Guess they didn't want peoples memories shattered.
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jdw
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The "sit down" was a classic cluster-Chase. Tony gets out of it exactly what he wants - peace and Phil dead. Phil's potential successor gets Tony to do the dirty work by killing Phil.

Yet Tony has the balls to ask for "Janice" to get a payment for Bobby being whacked. And worse - the future head of one of the Five Families *agrees*.

Now Chase Logic a/k/a Chase Fanboys covering for his shitty logic will explain it on one of several ways:

(a) if one of the Made Guys gets taken out by another crew, that other crew needs to "make good"

(b) this is a read-between-the-lines payment to Tony for killing Phil, with "Janice" and Bobby just being a cover

(c) it was Tony's brother-in-law, so the other crew needs to make good to him for killing Bobby

And probably some other excuses that we can come up with.

The problem with all of these is that the payback for Bobby being killed is that Tony is being allowed to kill Phil, which lets Tony live. Direct payback, and life. If he doesn't kill Phil, Tony is fucking dead. New Jersey can't win a war with New York. In real life, it got its fucking clocks cleaned, which is why the NJ head eventually went Witness Protection - he was going to fucking die, and was pissed off enough about what New York was doing that it just wasn't worth going down the old honorable fighting way.

The Phil's successors just buy this request by Tony and *don't* kill Tony in the end just makes them out to be The Pussies of New York. Who in the hell will respect them after this?

Tony: "We'll talk later about a price for Bobby."

Phil's Successor: "We have sympathy for your sister, but that was a decision of Phil's. Phil pays for everyone's debts, Tony."

Or some such thing to imply that Phil's death settles things between New York and they open a new ledger moving forward.

The way it was written, if New York was a real NY Family, Tony would have finished the show being killed by them right as he lets his guard down.

Again, Chases just cops out with mediocre writing.


John
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JAG



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 12:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Again, Chases just cops out with mediocre writing.


Agreed, but a realistic ending would have annoyed most of the audience and HBO and Chase can rightfully argue that would have been more of a disservice.

Television shows can never be perfect, but "The Wire" and "Six Feet Under" came the closest. The Sopranos like "Oz" lost its way midway through its run, but was still entertaining to me until the end.

Chase let you write your own ending, so mine is Tony being brutally murdered by New York.

Jagdip
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Iron Chad



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 6:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My ending is Chase is killed when the safe full of all the money he whored out of HBO and the fanbase from the Sopranos falls on him and crushes him.

What a bunch of shit, it would figure after all of the delays, and stretching out and puffed up episodes full of nonsense, that Chase wouldn't even give us an ending, or considering how he went to cop-outs at the last minute to resolve so many things that he went to the ultimate cop-out in an ending.

I think Tony was about to get it (or knowing Chase, maybe not) -- don't forget Carlo had flipped and was about to testify, I think Tony has a 90% chance of being indicted per the family attorney, who might be Patrick Parisi in the near future --- hopefully someone will teach Meadow how to parallel park, hopefully A.J. will spontaneously combust and this wasn't just a big fuck in the ass leading up to the Sopranos movie. Hell even the "90% chance of indictment" stuff was a pretty big card at the end of the first season, when it turned out to be Junior and his crew getting pinched.

The episode was crap pretty much before that as I didn't even care by the time Phil got whacked and I was pretty charged up to see what happened to Phil after last week's show. The way Phil's head got squashed by a melon would've had a bit more impact if Chase hadn't thrown in the extraneous motorcyclist getting run over in front of the `Bing as NY hit Sil and Patsy last week.

I did hear that HBO was somewhere between puzzled and furious when the last episode was turned in, and begged for Chase to consider doing more Sopranos. Maybe this isn't the last screwing for anyone left that still cares about this piece of shit show.

-Chad
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