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The End of an Era
by Branden Hart
The End of an Era
Tonight, the HBO series The Sopranos will air its final episode. We will finally have resolution on the questions plaguing the audience since the beginning of the show. Will Tony die? Will Meadow, Carmella, or, God forbid, AJ take over the role as leader of the crime family? Millions of viewers will tune in to see what happens, and while I anxiously await the moment the clock strikes eight and I hear watch Tony driving through the streets of New Jersey one last time, I'm still royally pissed off.
Why? Because while The Sopranos has been one of the most groundbreaking series to date, the producers did a really shitty job of keeping it solid. For those who have watched the series for years, this season has been a welcome reprieve from the last three, which, technically speaking, sucked royal ass.
I'll make this quick. Those who have been reading my articles know that the art of storytelling is one of the most important things in my life. And in the beginning, The Sopranos took that art form to new heights. But the last few seasons, with unnecessary plot lines, ridiculous scenarios, and the penchant of the writers to use entire episodes as filler material, have been a pain to wade through. Did we even need the sixth season? Everything that happened in that season could have been boiled down to two episodes. The writers and producers have committed the worst crime a storyteller can commit: using crap to fill time.
Case in point: the Vito storyline. Was this anything but useless filler? I admit—I enjoyed watching it at the time. It was poignant and entertaining. But what did we get out of that little story? Mobsters don't like gay guys. And that's about it. I thought that maybe we'd see something more come of it this season, when the family had to come to the rescue when Vito Jr. was being such a little shit (and taking shits in the gym showers). But it looks like that storyline has come to a close, and for what? The little it added to the machine that is The Sopranos makes it obvious that somebody had to fill time in the sixth season.
I understand why that's necessary. The Sopranos is a cash cow. Has been for years. But look at what the creators of Lost announced not too long ago. There will be three more seasons of that show, each sixteen episodes long. Now, the producers, writers, and the audience have a goal to work towards. That is what was missing from The Sopranos—there was never an end goal. That's the question every storyteller has to ask themselves from the beginning: do I want to end this at a particular point, or do I want to let the story pan out and just end when it ends. There are advantages to both options, but as we've seen with The Sopranos, there are significant drawbacks as well.
Regardless, I raise my glass to this series. It has provided countless hours of entertainment. Even though it hasn't been the greatest storytelling the world has ever seen, it is definitely some of the greatest television. Capiche?