Monday, May 22, 2006

The Sopranos

Last night's episode...and beyond

The Brokeback Mafioso was beaten to death, Carmela vacationed in Paris and acted like she'd never been to a big city, and AJ was forced to take a job with a construction company because for some reason Tony did a total about-face and went out of character by disciplining one of his children. Which means we won't have to see the utterly disgusting homosexual waddle-act anymore just because Lorraine Bracco's sister needed work so David Chase fleshed out the part for her onscreen chubby hubby. It fit in rather nicely with the buzz from Brokeback Mountain. Nicely if you feel that dropping major plot developments regarding the main characters is a good thing just to once again leap aboard a fading bandwagon, but Analyze This is a distant memory to the fans and actually thinking of something NEW is beyond the ken of hacks so what's a ripoff artist to do.

The good part is that we get less and less of having to watch an engorged Bracco morphing into Rosie O' Donnell before our very eyes, and don't have to guess how many chins she'll have in next weeks episode. Must be absolute hell paring all of her lines down to one-syllable words, then doing take after take as she flubs anything more difficult than see-spot-run.

The worst part is the fact that the season began with a good storyline. Tony trying to make it back from the brink of death, with the organization and family falling apart due to his absence. This soon degenerated into fat men in love and guest appearances for no other reason than to tack on a "big" name to the closing credits. Narrative threads were snipped in mid-climax, the directing was as bad as the first season, and the acting itself degenerated to levels unheard of in professional theatrical presentations. And lets face it, the only qualification for writing for The Sopranos is a good ear for mob-style jokes, so it's no wonder the poorly trained ensemble stood around wondering why they had nothing to do most times but nod back and forth to one another. Real actors can do that. It's called a "Beat". Writers put it in parentheticals when they're developing a script, and while a Gandolfini can take a Beat and tell a great story using the silence alone, Sopranos writers soon came to the conclusion that the LESS the other actors said, the better.

Next week it's the last 3 episodes back to back to brokeback, in preparation for the season finale. Close attention was paid to the viewing public's reaction to Tony abed, so look for next seasons' final 8 episodes ever to reflect what they feel the people want to see. That's until yet another flash in the pan liberal movie gets Chase's attention and he drops everything to "borrow" the storyline. Too bad Oliver Stone's horrid tale of 9/11 will be old hat by then. They could have had the cast rushing in and out of the Empire State Building to thwart a plot to level it with Kong on top holding gay cowboys in each hand, up until Uncle Junior breaks free from the hospital to warn them that it's really a Pentagon scheme to fly a plane into the building and blame it on the Iranians.

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