All Along The Watchtower

films . videos . television

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Sopranos

There are times when shows like The Sopranos are very fortunate to be where they are. I'm not referring to being on pay cable and, thus, being able to show nudity, have more cussin' and to show acts of extreme violence (though certainly the show does all three). What I'm referring to is the creative freedom to stretch the wings a bit, knowing the network won't yank the show if the ratings sag a bit and that you've got a guaranteed set of episodes in which to tell the story the creators have in mind.

It allows for some freedom and flexibility in the storytelling style. It allows for some contrast between episodes.

Such as we saw between last week and this week. Last week was, in a lot of ways, a reintroduction to Tony's world and the people coming into his orbit. It was all about reminded us of who is who, where loyalties lie and what card are the on the table as the new season begins. Then, with one shot, the entire structure shatters as Uncle Junior shoots Tony.

This week, I got the feeling that some of the storylines for the season are coming into view. From the family's reaction to Tony's being shot and lying in a coma to the power vaccum that Tony's being on the sidelines will create. We're already seeing hints of it as various players see it as their chance to move in on and take over some of Tony's territory. Interesting to see that in the first season, Tony stepped into a power vaccum and took over being the boss. Now, in season six, there's a new vaccum being created. The question is--who will step in and if they do, will they willingly give up that power to Tony? I'm betting probably not, since we've seen Tony facing issues related to the clash of his two worlds, but never once has he felt like he should step away from his health or the good of his family.

Will that change now? It could if the dream sequences are anything to go by. Tony dreams of another life in which he's a salesman who loses his identity when his briefcase and wallet are switched with another man's. It's fascinating to watch James Gandolfini play dream world Tony, who is recongizable as Tony Soprano, but slightly different. For example, can you see the Tony we know taking the news that he can't attend the seminar he specifically came to the conference for so calmly and without a few explatives? Me either.

Meanwhile, we get some hints of things to come. It appears that the Meadow and Finn engagement has hit the rocks a bit. How much of that is Meadow stressing out about her father and how much of that is actual tension remains to be seen. And A.J. has flunked out of school, possibly for partying too much. And he's promised to take care of Uncle Junior for doing this to Tony. These two things lead me to believe that the series could be setting up A.J. to embrace the life that Tony has worked so hard to have his children esacpe. A.J.'s flunking out of school will only push him toward the family business and if Tony is in a coma for any extended period of time, it could allow A.J. to start learning the business and rising among the ranks.

One question that crossed my mind in last night's episode. The prognosis for Tony is grim--not only the coma, but the dream-world diaganosis of Alzheimer's. (Though I wonder if that is a deep rooted fear for Tony, seeing Uncle Junior slowly lose control of his faculties so and not wanting that to happen to him. Will Tony get tested should he wake up? Or was this his mind's way of dealing with the news he heard about the potential brain damage as a side-affect of the coma?) So, the question is--would The Sopranos have the guts to kill off Tony in the first few episodes of the season? Would his shadow loom large enough that even with James Gandolfini not there that Tony would still be there? And would we tune in for a Tony-less Sopranos?

Also, let me just say this--all of you other ladies who thought you'd get that leading actress Emmy this year might as well give it up. Start engraving the name Edie Falco on the Emmy because her performance last night probably wrapped that one up early.


At 7:15 AM, Anonymous Sarcastro said...

Great stuff last night.

The coma life of Tony Soprano seems to be an existential purgatory for the real Tony. Or is this mob life part of salesman Tony's fantasy world? Notice how Gandolfini drops his goomba accent to differentiate the two.

As he is in SoCal, maybe he will look up Jim Rockford to help him track down Kevin Finerty.


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