Monday, 2 September 2013

The Sopranos - My thoughts on a show that will live with me forever...

*Please be aware that this post contains pretty major spoilers, so, if you haven't yet watched this incredible piece of TV drama, you might want to leave it alone.*

Now, as far as The Sopranos goes, I'm a little late to the party. In fact, I'm so late that the sausage rolls have long been packed away, the DJ's already taken those final requests, and the room has since been hired out countless times for numerous weddings, office parties, and a dozen singles nights for

But, for a number of reasons - not having satellite TV at the time, my lack of interest in anything Mafia-related (I haven't even seen The Godfather), moving to Tenerife and having even less TV channels... you get my drift - we just never got hooked first time around. I heard people talking about it, I wondered what all the fuss was about, but none of it really made me want to watch it. But then James Gandolfini died - far too young, and knowing what I know now, we've lost an extremely talented actor. And because of his untimely death, interest in The Sopranos suddenly piqued in this house. Well, to be honest, my hubby watched the first episode, loved it, and made me sit down and watch it myself because he thought I'd love it, too. But I was sceptical. I didn't really think it was my thing. How wrong was I?

Last night we watched the final ever episode, and I can't stop thinking about it. I can't get it out of my head, I can't concentrate on anything else except how sad I am that we no longer have these people in our lives. To some, that may sound weird. It was a TV programme, those people weren't real, and even if they had been they weren't always the nicest people to have around. But we have just spent every single night for a good few weeks with those characters in our lives. We got the whole six seasons watched in a very short space of time, and that's why I think it's affected me so much - and it's been a long, long time since a TV programme has affected me the way The Sopranos has. Even now, six years after the show ended, people are still talking about that final episode, that final scene - a scene I just cannot get out of my head. Everything from the directing to the music playing in the background, to the way a strange kind of tension built up because you just knew something was going to happen. You just didn't know what, exactly. Except that, when it did happen, for a few brief seconds you'd be forgiven for thinking something was up with your TV. But when you replay it back, when you read the explanations, it all makes sense. And in a strange kind of way, if you take the general consensus about the ending - that Tony Soprano was murdered, and that those seconds of blackness at the very end of the episode represent that fact - I can't help feeling sad. In the back of my mind, I suppose, I wanted a happy ending for the Soprano family. Things were just starting to come together for them, or were they? Could Tony ever really be free? Wasn't he always destined to be living his life constantly looking over his shoulder? And, in reality, wasn't death the only fitting end for a man who, quite frankly, did some pretty horrific things in his time? Surely crime couldn't be seen to pay? Not ultimately.

Tony and his crew...
The Sopranos wasn't easy viewing. The violence was sometimes quite difficult to watch, and the language was pretty strong. Actually, it was very strong. But, in context, that's the way it had to be. It was the world those people lived in. But what made it so good, so clever, was the utterly brilliant acting from an ensemble cast that deserved every award they won. Any actor who can play someone so thoroughly nasty and dangerous, yet still give off a vulnerable side to themselves that actually makes you feel sympathy towards them, that's a talent. And that's what a lot of the characters in The Sopranos did for me. One minute you're hating them because what they're doing is just stomach-turning, and the next you can't help but feel sorry for them as real-life and real problems that we all face affect them just as they affect everyone else. That's clever. That's good TV.

Tony and Christopher - a messed-up relationship that, ultimately, ended sadly.
There were episodes when I detested Tony Soprano for his actions, and episodes where I just wanted to hug him, and although one of my favourite characters was Christopher Moltisanti I went right off him after what he did to Adriana's little dog! Seriously, though, Christopher was probably one of the most frustrating, mixed-up, complex characters there was, but when he died I actually felt quite shocked. I hadn't wanted him to go that way, to be "finished off", as it were, after that car accident, by Tony. I hadn't wanted to see that. Maybe, out of all of the characters in that show, I wanted him to come good more than anyone. By the end he had a family - a wife, a baby girl, a career in movies... But, in reality, could any of Tony's crew ever really come good? Could anyone ever really leave all that behind? I think the answer to that one was no, as was confirmed when a member of the crew asked to leave to move to Florida, to start a new life. He was denied that request, and in the end hung himself. So, thinking back on the last few episodes as, one by one, Tony's crew were taken out, that was the only way it was ever going to end. And that final scene in the diner, where Tony meets up with his family, and then, if we're to believe the popular theory, is shot right there in front of them, that has to be one of the most memorable scenes I've ever watched. It's a scene that will stay with me for a long time. And now I can totally understand why, all these years on, people are still talking about it.

A still from that infamous final scene... just before it happens...
I'm sad that my evenings watching this truly brilliant piece of TV drama are now over; I'm sad that we've lost someone as talented as James Gandolfini so young; and I'm sad that there isn't more TV like this on our screens - TV that draws you in, makes you care, gets inside your head and stays with you, because The Sopranos will stay with me for a long, long time. And now, whenever I hear Journey's 'Don't Stop Believing', - the song that was playing throughout that final scene - it's a song that won't just forever send shivers up my spine. It's a song that will always make me think of the time I spent with The Soprano "family"... always...

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