We watch... so you don't have to.

Hoarse "Sopranos"

I hear a lot about how the Sopranos is "ratcheting up the tension" and "stampeding toward a bloody finale". This perplexes me, because as far as I can tell via my patented technique of "watching the show every week", nothing is happening. And nothing has happened in quite some time.

Now, before I defend my thesis, I need to point out that I'm going to talk about the show. That is, to explain why nothing is happening, I'm going to have to describe some things that have, in fact, happened. If you haven't watched the current season yet and you're worried that reading about what has happened will ruin what meagre enjoyment you hope to squeeze from the show, I encourage you not to read on. Also, you should maybe consider watching the shows when they air like everyone else. Just a thought.

Okay, let's recap the situation. Season Five ended on June 6, 2004, with Steve Buscemi getting killed in retribution for his misbehavior over the season. That was a pretty good story arc, if you ask me; Tony had to deal with his conflicting loyalties to his cousin and the Family, plus it had the aforementioned Buscemi.

Then there was a break of just under two years until Season Six started on March 12, 2006. There were twelve episodes, mostly about Vito being gay. There was also some stuff about AJ being an annoying loser and Christopher getting married and a dream sequence. Remember the dream sequence? Man.

Then they took another hiatus from June 2006 until April 2007 and started "the rest of Season Six". That's what we're watching now. And my basic objection is that this season isn't about anything. Or at least, it's not about anything I care about. Anthony Jr. has established himself over the last six seasons as an uninteresting character and it's way too late to try to make me care about him. We've already had a storyline where the Sopranos have to deal with a kid who starts acting educated and I didn't care about it the first time.

I do not believe, as the claim in my first paragraph puts it, that they are "ratcheting up the tension". I think what is happening is that they're "playing out the string". Even when something potentially interesting happens, like Tony killing Christopher, it's drained of all tension and excitement by the circumstances (a car crash? So much for the protagonist making decisions that drive the plot) and the results (Tony... goes to Las Vegas and takes peyote?). Remember the scene where Silvio drove Adriana to the spot where we knew he was going to kill her? That scene, without dialogue, was more dramatic than this whole "season". And it had more tragic results, if you count the airing of "Joey".

I believe the problem is in the enormously long breaks between seasons. I also believe that "Season Six" is obviously two seaparate seasons and the only reason they won't admit it is because they already said it was the "final season" before they figured out a way to end the show.

I'm still going to watch the final two episodes, because I've come this far. But my expectations are so low I'll be happy as long as the last episode isn't a 70-minute-long AJ dream sequence.


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