Baseball Toaster Screen Jam
Sopranos Warms Up Final Aria
2007-04-04 08:54
by Jon Weisman

The final nine episodes of The Sopranos will start one-by-oneing the cablewaves Sunday. For Variety, I supervised a special section that celebrates The Sopranos: The Final Season with articles on almost every aspect of production.

Here's my lead story:

While the television world slept in the winter of 1999, "The Sopranos" woke up one morning and got itself a gun.

Creatively, "The Sopranos" shot to No. 1 with a bullet. Eight years later, as the series heads into its final nine episodes (beginning Sunday), its cold-blooded impact on the industry is still a marvel to those who remember life before Tony Soprano and his crew.

"The first season of 'The Sopranos' is one of the most essential, transformative moments in TV history," Newsweek television critic Devin Gordon says. "It's arguably the best season of television that's ever aired, but beyond that, it challenged every artist, every viewer and every fan of culture to reconsider some long-held notions about the medium of television: that it was cheap and disposable, that it could be quality at its best but never art." ...

The section hits newsstands Thursday and looks even better in print, so check it out.

2007-04-04 09:49:36
1.   Eric Enders
Great story, Jon.

While I don't disagree with the following quote...

"beyond that, it challenged every artist, every viewer and every fan of culture to reconsider some long-held notions about the medium of television: that it was cheap and disposable, that it could be quality at its best but never art."

... I think it applies even more strongly to several shows that came on the heels of The Sopranos, particularly The Wire and Six Feet Under. The Sopranos, while always entertaining, did at times in the middle seasons veer toward the cartoonish. They also ran out of good ideas for a while, as evidenced by the decision to awkwardly introduce essentially the same character twice just so they'd have more main characters to kill off. (Joe Pantoliano and Steve Buscemi.)

What do people think the best episodes are? For me, it's definitely "The Pine Barrens," followed by "All Due Respect."

2007-04-04 09:53:42
2.   Eric Enders
Also, "Long Term Parking," the episode that immediately preceded All Due Respect, was pretty fantastic.
2007-04-04 10:03:25
3.   Jon Weisman
Pine Barrens for sure. Also, the one with Carmela and Tony's big fight. And "College."
2007-04-04 10:17:20
4.   Benaiah
I was talking with my friends the other day, about what were our favorite Sopranos moments. Carm and Tony's fight in season (4 or 5?)
Tony killing the guy while Meadow is in her college interview.
Sil and Adriana's drive into the countryside.
Tony attempts to smother his mom.
Any one of five or six moments in "Pine Barrens" (I say it is when the guy gets away, so Chris and Paulie debate whether to go after him).

It is a show of moments though. There are a million good ones- here is one that just jumped out to me: Tony telling Meadow "that's what happens when you are living in sin with some guy" causing her to run away and allowing him to get his breakfast out of the microwave. I am also very partial to the fight scene between Tony and Ralph, for its crazy savagery.

2007-04-04 10:29:59
5.   Jon Weisman

For de Matteo the conclusion of her character was especially painful since "The Sopranos" had done so much for her career. She alluded to difficulty she's had since leaving the HBO show - she went on to the NBC sitcom "Joey," which concluded last year.

"They killed me on HBO, and then I went to NBC to commit complete suicide," said de Matteo, drawing a roomful of laughter.

2007-04-04 10:31:14
6.   Eric Enders
I really liked the moment in "Long Term Parking" where Chris drives to gas up his shiny black Hummer while he's deciding whether to go into witness protection. He looks at this family of four getting back into their beat-up old car with the kids being annoying, and you can see him thinking that's what lies in store for him if he runs away from mob life. So he goes back and calls Tony.
2007-04-04 10:32:25
7.   Eric Enders
5 IIRC, she was not even an actress before, correct? I remember reading something about her being discovered running a clothing store where the costume deigners happened to be looking for stuff.
2007-04-04 10:34:25
8.   Marty
The Jackie Junior episodes were some of my favorite. Knowing something had to happen to him, but not being sure what they would come up with was fun to watch.
2007-04-04 10:39:15
9.   Eric Enders
My single favorite line from the show cannot be repeated on Screen Jam, but you will find it right above the "Filmopgraphy" section here:
2007-04-04 10:39:58
10.   Benaiah
6 - That moment is echoed in Vitto's decision to go back instead of staying with Johnny Cakes. He hates work and so he goes back to pretty much certain death, rather than enjoy his new life. It is all well and good being a regular guy, but having to earn a living like one? Not a chance.
2007-04-04 12:11:45
11.   Benaiah
Carmella has interesting taste in men. Some of my favorite subplots have involved her trysts and crushes. Here is a list.

Furio: He was a died in the wool sociopath the first time we saw him handle business for Tony, but eventually he got soft for Carmella. Two unbelievable moments came from this: first, when Furio nearly throws Tony into a helicopter blade and second, when Carmella reveals her crush on Furio inciting Tony to pound the wall near her head (that is my favorite scene of Sopranos, the acting is unbelievable).

Robert Wegler: He seemed to be the first guy for Carmella, but their relationship turned very ugly after he accused her of manipulating him to help A.J. Carmella is a user, but I wonder if he wasn't being overly sensitive. His rejection showed her how soiled she is by her association with Tony, and ultimately led to Carm letting him back in the house.

That Painter: Not much to say, but it was interesting how Carm kept saying "Oh god" and her body language was mostly hesitant. Conflicted and complicit, the words that sum up my favorite character on the show.

2007-04-04 12:16:12
12.   Jon Weisman
11 - What about the priest?
2007-04-04 12:27:19
13.   Benaiah
12 - The priest! That was a great one. Though, I thought that when she finally told him off it was a little too on the nose. She basically went Dr. Melfi on him and explained his innermost motivations and desires.

Still, it was cool to see food as a metaphor for sex.

2007-04-04 13:40:39
14.   bhsportsguy
Director of 'A Christmas Story,' son killed in PCH crash

Film director Bob Clark and his son Ariel were killed in an early morning collision along a stretch of Pacific Coast Highway in Pacific Palisades, authorities said.

Clark directed the classic holiday film "A Christmas Story" in 1983 and was the producer of the "Porky's" films, along with about two dozen other features.

2007-04-04 13:44:40
15.   bhsportsguy
30 Rock will be back for another season.

2007-04-04 13:58:53
16.   Jon Weisman
15 - See post below this one.

14 - That's awful.

2007-04-04 14:00:30
17.   Jon Weisman
14 - By a drunk driver.

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