April 23, 2006

"The Sopranos," "Big Love."

Did you watch? I thought both shows were relatively uninteresting tonight. Maybe it's just me. I'm always happy to watch Christopher act like an idiot -- and "When are you going to stop playing the Adriana card?" was a great line -- but much of what went on tonight bored me.

Ditto "Big Love." Nicky's credit cards, yawn. Somebody turns out to be gay -- what an original plot turn! Bill's car drives up and parks in front of the house -- fascinating, please show that a hundred more times. Loved the missionaries though -- especially when they rode away on bikes and did the dorky hand turn signals. Really loved every syllable uttered by Tina Majorino. She's brilliant!


XWL said...

There's nothing dorky about using hand signals for added bike safety!

(unless of course you are in full Mormon Missionary gear, but in that case, there are very few activities that don't come across as dorky)

brady said...

Um, hello. . .CHRISTOFUH MUGGED LAUREN BACALL!?!?! How much more can you ask from a show?

Seriously, on my deathbed, the thing that will flash before my eyes? Bacall dog-cussing Mr. Moltisani. Brilliant.

Dave said...

Did not watch Big Love last night because that show is too precious for its own good. Any show with earnest missionaries doing hand signals on bikes is one I ought not watch, if only to keep from puking.

Did watch Sopranos. Moltisanti, I believe, compliments Bacall on To Have and Have Not and yet Bacall does not utter her famous line "Put your lips together and blow"? WTF is that about. Someone missed an opportunity for some good sexual humor in that writing.

And what was the deal with Ben Kingsley? Kingsley, the actor, looked bored on screen. Perhaps that was the way his character was supposed to be--bored by these mafia idiots. But Kinglsey the actor looked bored playing himself on screen.

Noumenon said...

Really loved every syllable uttered by Tina Majorino. She's brilliant!

She is recurring on Veronica Mars right now, not a huge role but you liked Buffy enough that the show might be for you.

TWM said...

I am so glad you found it boring, Professor. I was beginning to think I was the only one. Yes, seeing Laruen Bacall mugged was noteworthy, as well as seeing Ben Kingsley interact with Christopher, but otherwise it was boring indeed.

And the gay theme rang loud and clear in Big Love. What, polygamy isn't controversial enough for them?

The missionaries were a lot more creepy than any I have ever encountered. Annoying, yes, but creepy? Never saw it before. But maybe they keep the really creepy ones at home.

Ann Althouse said...

XWL: It's dorky for two guys to extend the arm straight out, in precisely in unison and when they are making a gentle turn on a suburban street with absolutely no traffic.

Brady: Yeah, plus saying he loved her movie "The Haves and Have Nots."

Ann Althouse said...

TWM: I don't regard the gay theme as controversial. I regard it as a way overused plot device. It's already being used in the worst Sopranos story of the season, with Vito. It's so typical to take a tough guy and then have him turn out to be gay (a la "American Beauty"). Although it was kind of interesting how the Big Love guy acted. The plot needs him to come unmoored and wreck havoc (presumably on Roman).

Noumenon: I have to say I never watched "Buffy." I don't really watch any network dramas, and, aside from "Joan of Arcadia," hadn't watched any since "Hill Street Blues." I watched the first episode of "Lost" -- the description made it sound good -- and then didn't like it -- didn't like the actors.

Joe said...

As someone mentioned last week, it does seem as if the minor characters are getting episodes - Vito, now Chris and Artie. And it looks like Vito again next week, from the previews. I thought last night's was one of the most darkly humorous ever, especially Chris in Hollywood. Enjoyable.

jim simonson said...

don't watch tv (mostly). i do the netflix thing though and recently rented a tv series (4 shows) done by lars van trier called "the kingdom". i found it very funny and very weird all at the same time. the shows i hear every one at work talk about just make me yawn. sounds like sopranos would be good but that is cable...lol...i dont dooo cable.

Jonathan said...

I love the missionaries on their bicycles. I live in SLC and they are everywhere. The look like identical twins coasting around in matching attire and sporting smae brand bicycles. And oh the helmets! I'm an avid cyclist, but you wouldn't catch me in my casket wearing what they wear. They are nice kids, however. Always have a smile and as nice as you can be. As often as I see them, you would think I'm the only non-Mormon in my neighborhood, which could very well be the case.

JodyTresidder said...

Nope, fiercely disagree Ann.

Christopher becoming almost completely unhinged at the unfairness of the Hollywood perks system - and naively presenting Tony with the looted "tat" on his return? Gorgeous. Loved the nods to Kingsley's "Sexy Beast" screen bastard hood character - and I always enjoy Tony's contemptuous affection for Artie.
"Big Love" also - I thought - hummed along well. The show's camera crew making diabolically good use of the perpetual bright sunshine during the Nicky-and-the missionaries-scene. Thought it gave a shudder worthy glimpse of her lonely suburban hell.

Joan said...

I was folding laundry last night during the Sopranos, and it's just as well because it kept me awake. There was something off about the pacing of the episode, or maybe it was just too much dumb in one night -- both Christopher and Artie stories in one ep? Please, spread the stupid around more.

I don't think Kingsley (excuse me -- Sir Ben) looked bored, I think he was trying to not to look terrified, and trying equally hard not to laugh at the stupid mobsters, because laughing at them would surely result in physical harm. Those scenes were excruciating, though, because Chris & Little Carmine (whose mangled vocabulary still cracks me up) are too stupid to know how out-classed they were.

I can't stand Artie, never could, and having his story line be a major part of the episode made it difficult for me. I couldn't believe he would be stupid enough to taunt Benny like that in front of his wife & parents. Did he think that Tony could keep Benny in line in absentia? Yeah, Tone will stick up for Artie but Artie was asking for it, and he's lucky to be alive.

I also dislike how they are just leaving major plots dangling from week to week -- what's going on with Paulie Walnuts, his Aunt Ma, and that kid he knee-capped? Yeah, we got a few references to the Vito story line, but really: meh.

This season so far has had very little momentum since Tony came home from the hospital.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bad Penny said...

GrumpyTA said last week I think a theme for the season - or at least the last few episodes - has been that masculinity, or rather, a dying masculinity. Johnny Sack cried at his daughter's wedding. Tony beat up his hyper-masculine cousin to prove that he is still a man, or so I think. Vito was finally outted. Paulie discovered that he's a bastard. Silvio found out that he doesn't have what it takes to be a boss.

I thought of that this week when Artie was failing and flailing and then finally regained his Self when he went back to his mother's cookbook to cook the rabbbit he shot in his garden.

Other than that, the show seemed pretty empty this week. The hollywood stuff seems off key to me, like an excuse to have some marquee cameos. Yawn.

Joe Hogan said...

I agree with Ann and the others who found this weeks episode of the Sopranos boring. I felt like Chase and Co. were just walking in place.

The main purpose seemed to be to remind us of what an asshole Artie can be, possibly setting us up to accept it when something bad happens to him. As for Chris, the cultural disconnect between New Jersey hooddom and Hollywood seemed to put an end to Chris' pipedream. He resorted to type a grabbed what swag he could, coming up with only female goodies.

Chris' offering the designer carrying case for a lap dog to Tony was beautiful and seeing the legendary Lauren Bacall cold cocked by ninja Chris was a classic moment. Cheers to her for joining in on the fun.

PatCA said...

Maybe you're right, Bad Penny. Hope so, anyway.

Both were kind of boring, I agree, but I can forgive Chase because he's been so compelling for, what, six seasons? And even when it's bad, it's really, really good (as Woody Allen once said about sex).

Big Love, OTOH, has run out of gas and targets of "satire" in a scant few episodes, resorting to the extraneous gay subplot. I can hear the pitch now: Desperate Housewives Meets Fundy Christians.

TWM said...


I don't think the gay theme is controversial either. Really it has become predictable and boring. Still, there are those who feel that way and sometimes I believe writers with agendas throw it in there just to stir things up -- with no real connection to the plot.

Also, there were two parts to the gay theme. One in the hotel room and the other with the boys celebrating in the car. I still can't figure that one out.

John R Henry said...

Big Love:

I didn't see anything gay about the car episode but perhaps I missed something. I was not a jock but was in the navy sleeping nose to toe and side by side with 100 other guys.

Seems like we spent an inordinate amount of time talking about our penises. Occasionally demonstrating what we were talking about.

I don't think Big Love has run out of gas. I think the show started out with a happy 3 wife family and, as we get more and more into it, shows us its true disfunctionality.

I predict that:

1) Ben and Margene have an affair, Bill finds out about it and kicks Ben out.

1a) Margene may wind up leaving Bill for Ben. (A bit of a stretch)

2) Bill gets outed publicly. This may happen on purpose by Roman or semi-accidentally by other means. When that happens the wheels fall off his store.

In other words, I do not forsee a happily ever after ending.

John Henry

TWM said...

John Henry,

I was in the Air Force and I don't recall discussing my penis at all. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

The gay theme played in at the end when the son was on the phone with his friend and he asked if they did that a lot. The guy asked him if he was gay then and the boy said no.

Or maybe I accidently flipped over to Queer As Folk on Showtime.

chuck b. said...

I'm still waiting for Big Love to deliver; I watch because I have a hunch that it might. I only "watch" the Sopranos when I'm doing something else.

Both shows bore me in a way because I don't like any of the characters. I root for all their undoing; that's inherently more boring than rooting for success. Very old fashioned of me prefer protagonists to anti-heroes, but there you go. I have unfashionable tastes.

The most interesting character to me on Big Love is the Tina Majorino character*, which is appropriate since Majorino, like me, is the outsider looking in. It's also interesting to look at the Big Love world through her eyes, because she's so different than I am.

None of the other characters make any sense to me at all.

*Is that her on on Veronica Mars sometimes? I like that show better than either the Sopranos or Big Love.

Revenant said...

I'm not sure that the Big Love character is supposed to be gay. I was really expecting him to *kill* that drifter, not have sex with him. Especially once he got out that hunting knife just to make a sandwich.

Tina Majorino's character is definitely the best, though.

John R Henry said...

TWM said...

John Henry,

I was in the Air Force and I don't recall discussing my penis at all.

Well, they do call the AF "The alternative to military service".:)

I don't think the AF throws guys together in such close proximity and such isolation (weeks at sea) as the Navy does. When I said nose to toes, I meant it literally. There was about 1" end to end between mattresses and about 3" side to side.

Or see a Navy shower when 50+ guys are all trying to get showered under 4 heads in the 15 minutes the water is turned on each day. If you drop your soap, don't even try to pick it up.

I spent way more time that I would have liked in VERY close proximity to naked and nearly naked guys. The way to deal with that is pretty raunchy jokes.

I did catch the question about whether Ben's friend was gay. I just didn't think he did much to demonstrate that he was.

John Henry

Johnny Nucleo said...

The Napoleon Dynamite girl is good but so is the girl who plays the youngest wife. Good comic acting by her in the scene where Jeanne Tripplehorn pretends to be a landscaper to throw off the neighbor. And I'm ashamed that I only appreciated Jeanne Tripplehorn for her hotness before this show. She's a real pro.

Does anyone watch Entourage? It's coming back in a few weeks. I'm curious what Ann would think of it. A lot of women hate it, but a lot of women like it. Ann, please give it a shot and let us know. The episodes are only thirty minutes.

Even though The Sopranos has been doddering and Big Love is hit and miss, the programmers of HBO deserve our applause. They've been producing the best filmed entertainment of the last five years.

Lars said...

I guess this is not the Soprano's last season because it's sure not building towards any resolution.

Noumenon said...

Ann: I googled althouse.blogspot.com for "buffy" and got hits, but I didn't realize they were mostly from your commenters. Buffy was only half drama anyway, it was a very funny show.

Ann Althouse said...

Nou: Yeah, I know. I just didn't have the time to get into it when it was around. I rarely watch anything on TV that tells a story. HBO is the big exception for me, and I got into "The Sopranos" and "Six Feet Under" through DVD sets, not by watching the regular show.