January 11, 2019

"Soooo... I assumed they were all killed and the blackout was just to spare us from seeing it."

"But over on Television Without Pity, everyone's all confused, saying what happened, curse you David Chase, and I thought my cable went out."

I wrote on June 7, 2007, and today I'm seeing what I thought was confirmation that I was right: "Sopranos writer David Chase originally had a 'death scene' in mind for the show's finale" (Daily Mail):
Chase [said] 'Yes, I think I had that death scene around two years before the end. I remember talking with [writer/ executive producer] Mitch Burgess about it. But it wasn’t - it was slightly different.... 'Tony was going to get called to a meeting with Johnny Sack in Manhattan, and he was going to go back through the Lincoln Tunnel for this meeting. It was going to go black there and you never saw him again as he was heading back, the theory being that something bad happens to him at the meeting. But we didn’t do that.'

After what the journalists described as a 'long pause,' Chase responded, 'F*** you guys.'

According to Uproxx, Chase told [the journalists] he 'didn’t want to do a straight death scene,' and that the idea behind the scene [in the end at the restaurant] was that 'he could have been whacked.' Chase remained coy when [they] asked him directly if viewers would have been mistaken to believe Tony would have been killed in the scene, saying, 'I’m not going to answer that question.'
Ah, well. We'll never know. I miss "The Sopranos." I miss Television Without Pity.

58 comments:

gahrie said...

If television without pity is your thing, you should be watching Game of Thrones....

etbass said...

I remember reading a very, very lengthy diatribe taking the final scenes in the restaurant apart to prove that it was a whack job for Tony. Convinced me.

EDH said...

I've been laid-up sick for the better part of the last week while the Sopranos marathons have been running on HBO.

In back-to-back succession, the episodes are even better than I remember when I watch them week-to-week.

What a great show!

etbass said...

It's always been a fascinating thing to me to find myself rooting for the most heinous guys in these shows like the Sopranos and The Godfather.

EDH said...

Blogger gahrie said...
If television without pity is your thing, you should be watching Game of Thrones...

The Game of Thrones marathon started my convalescence before the Sopranos.

That series really started out as nothing but non-stop human cruelty in the early seasons.

The story-line really improved as the seasons went on.

EDH said...

I lost my appetite while sick, but regained it craving pasta!

Coincidence?

Ann Althouse said...

"Game of Thrones" looks completely boring to me.

Nonapod said...

The show that started the whole prestige TV thing.

In my opinion there hasn't beem as many decent shows in more recent years. It seemed to have peaked around the late Aughts and early teens with shows like The Wire, Madmen, and Breaking Bad. There's been somewhat of a quality dropoff since maybe 2013-14.

Lucid-Ideas said...

"I miss Television Without Pity."

There are still some great late-night soft-core programs with light-BDSM on Showtime, but it's not truly "television without pity", only very very little pity.

rcocean said...

I thought it was obvious that Tony got whacked. The black screen just avoided the obvious.

Game of Thrones started out well (it was based on the books) but went off the rails as the author/producers stretched it out for $$$.

Once they had major characters coming back from the dead - that was the end. Dragons I can take, but once cheat by having major character un-killed, then what's the point?

rcocean said...

TV Without Pity was too critical - which is why it was bought out and killed.

Sebastian said...

If you want Television Without Pity, binge on The Apprentice. I mean, who's more pitiless than the Donald saying, "You're Fired!"

langford peel said...

David Chase specializes in disappointing his audience. Terry Winter was a main cog in the Sopranoes and later did a great job with Mob stories in Boardwalk Empire.

I am usually find Chase’s work disappointing so I don’t hold out much hope for the Soprano Movie that is now in production. It is a prequal and will not have any of the actors from the Sopranos. It is about the Newark riots of the 1960’s and the cause of the white flight from ethnic neighborhoods that ultimately lead to the end of the Mafia.

rcocean said...

Mad Men was the same way. Should have ended at Season 4 after the Producer ran out of ideas. But they wanted more $$$ - so it went on and on and on.

rcocean said...

"so I don’t hold out much hope for the Soprano Movie"

maybe it will be good. Anything's possible - I suppose.

Hard to do the Sopranos without James Gandolfini

tim in vermont said...

The Sopranos was great TV, but I was happy to see them all killed by a bomb in the last scene. At least that’s how I saw it.

CJinPA said...

I never got into mob TV/films. But people like it, so maybe I should just STFU and watch you all talk about it, and not be That Particular Person.

Unknown said...

I think the ambiguous ending is more than Tony & his family could have been killed then and there. But if not, he would likely come to a tragic ending eventually, or otherwise, keep riding the same cycle of conflict and violence. It goes on, and on, and on, and on.

tim in vermont said...

"Game of Thrones" looks completely boring to me.

Come on man! It has dragons!

Nonapod said...

or otherwise, keep riding the same cycle of conflict and violence. It goes on, and on, and on, and on.

That was what I got from the show, there is no redemption for these people, only death.

Ann Althouse said...

"Television Without Pity (often abbreviated TWoP) was a website that provided detailed recaps of select television dramas, situation comedies and reality TV shows along with discussion forums. These recaps were written with sarcastic criticism and opinion alongside a retelling of an episode's events, which the site referred to as "snark".... Television Without Pity was known to have established the use of recapping with commentary as a viable genre of criticism alongside a social space as to talk about shows. Television Without Pity predated the growth of social media, but through its forums established the social nature of watching television shows together. Sites like The A.V. Club grew from this type of approach, and social media is used heavily by television networks and fans alike to discuss shows as they occur in real time. "

tcrosse said...

I grew up in North Jersey. The gang on Sopranos were just like the guys I went to high school with, all growed up. Can't say I was sorry to see any of them get theirs.

FullMoon said...

Here is one. I was following a SanFrancisco columnist who deconstructed every episode. Cannot remember his name.

Have been watching, Trump has been mentioned favorably several times.

Tony is a goner

FullMoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tim in vermont said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tim in vermont said...

Let's just remind ourselves how - to use street parlance - the final scene of The Sopranos 'went down': Tony arrives at the diner, and selects Journey's Don't Stop Believing from the juke-box console at his table. One by one, the other members of his immediate family arrive - except for Meadow - and they start to eat onion rings and indulge in small talk. Meadow's a bit late, and seems to be having trouble parking her car. Just as Meadow reaches the diner's door and pushes it open, Tony looks up and... blackness. Show over. . - Fullmoon’s link.

Maybe it’s just my wasted years as an English major, but it was pretty clear that the show was magically transmitted from Tony’s brain, and the instant that brain was killed, the show stopped. Ergo, Tony took a shot to the brain and was killed instantly. The only question being, was it a hit on him, or a bomb that killed everybody, or a massacre? It’s simple biology and physics! Well, it’s a rule of writing anyway. I guess Melville could have written Moby Dick with Ishmael drowning with the rest of the crew, the last sentence being about the oncoming slap of a whale’s tail, but the form hadn’t really evolved so far yet.

langford peel said...

The young Tony Soprano will appear in the new movie which will focus on Dickie Moltesanti who was Christoper’s father. The word is it will confer grate on the shy and collections disrupted by the riots. The cops on the pad still demand their payoffs and hilarity ensues.

I wish that Chase had balls and would include mobbed up congressman Peter Rodino of Watergate fame but he is a typical Hollywood liberal and wouldn’t touch it. If only Hoover had still been alive they could have used his files to back off Rodino and Ervin and Nixon would never had to resign.

FullMoon said...

Fuckin; A . Saw "Tim" and recalled columnist name.This guy was great. Link at bottom


Tim in vermont said...

Let's just remind ourselves how - to use street parlance - the final scene of The Sopranos 'went down': Tony arrives at the diner, and selects Journey's Don't Stop Believing from the juke-box console at his table. One by one, the other members of his immediate family arrive - except for Meadow - and they start to eat onion rings and indulge in small talk. Meadow's a bit late, and seems to be having trouble parking her car. Just as Meadow reaches the diner's door and pushes it open, Tony looks up and... blackness. Show over. .


Tim Goodman SF Chronicle

tcrosse said...

Maybe it’s just my wasted years as an English major, but it was pretty clear that the show was magically transmitted from Tony’s brain, and the instant that brain was killed, the show stopped.

Sort of like Sunset Blvd magically emanated from Joe Gillis' brain after he died.

Ken B said...

Game of Thrones is dull. Unless you have an uncommon fondness for dragons and tits.

rehajm said...

I recall Ann asking for some of the good dialogue from Game of Thrones. Well, here's the best...

Zaldrīzes buzdari iksos daor. Nyke Daenerys Jelmāzmo hen Targārio Lentrot, hen Valyrio Uēpo ānogār iksan. Valyrio muño ēngos ñuhys issa. Dovaogēdys! Āeksia ossēnātās, menti ossēnātās, qilōni pilos lue vale tolvie ossēnātās, yn riñe dōre ōdrikātās. Urnet luo buzdaro tolvio belma pryjātās!

Draycarys!

FullMoon said...

tcrosse said...

I grew up in North Jersey. The gang on Sopranos were just like the guys I went to high school with, all growed up.


You got an accent, New Jersey?

"You betta belive it"


or

"Yeah, you gotta problem with that?"

tim in vermont said...

Sort of like Sunset Blvd magically emanated from Joe Gillis' brain after he died.

Creative writing wholeheartedly subscribes to the “many universes, each with different laws” model of physics, each of them capable of communication with our own.

tcrosse said...

I got your Jersey accent right here.

Yancey Ward said...

The last scene moves back and forth from being viewed from Tony's perspective and being viewed from a more omniscient one. It does this regularly, and Tony's perspective is seen as each member of his family comes through the door. However, the instant that the perspective it supposed to switch to Tony's as he is to watch his daughter come through the door, it is nothingness. In addition, if you watched the show, you will have noticed that every episode ends with music, but this last episode is also the only one that doesn't- Journey vanishes instantly with the blackness. I think it is clear that Tony is shot in the head at that instant.

I thought the ending was the most perfectly executed scene I have ever seen done for a television show.

rehajm said...

I grew up in North Jersey

Which exit?

Yancey Ward said...

The only finale for a television show that I thought rivaled the one for The Sopranos was the one done for Six Feet Under- both were brilliant finales that were true to the series themselves.

tcrosse said...

Which exit?

Morris County didn't have any exits handy back in those days, before they built 287.

FullMoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tcrosse said...

The elementary school I attended was full of Italian kids and teahers. On the playground I picked up the expression "Bafangool". I used it at home, and my Dad, who had recently moved us from Milwaukee, like the way it rolled off the tongue but had no idea what it meant. In those days he worked on Wall Street, and he used it to express consternation to his boss, who took him aside and explained what it meant. I got a stern lecture when he got home.

FullMoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anthony said...

Blogger etbass said...
It's always been a fascinating thing to me to find myself rooting for the most heinous guys in these shows like the Sopranos and The Godfather.


See, I won't even watch gangster movies or TV. You might as well watch the same thing about Nazis ().

I'd call both groups animals, but that would be insulting to animals.

FullMoon said...

rehajm said...

I recall Ann asking for some of the good dialogue from Game of Thrones. Well, here's the best...

Zaldrīzes buzdari iksos daor. Nyke Daenerys Jelmāzmo hen Targārio Lentrot, hen Valyrio Uēpo ānogār iksan. Valyrio muño ēngos ñuhys issa. Dovaogēdys! Āeksia ossēnātās, menti ossēnātās, qilōni pilos lue vale tolvie ossēnātās, yn riñe dōre ōdrikātās. Urnet luo buzdaro tolvio belma pryjātās!

Draycarys!


Oh, sure, always with the sex talk

Jupiter said...

There is something peculiar in the idea that we can find out "what happened" in a work of fiction by asking the author. Obviously, the author chose to tell us, say, that his protagonists's name was Ed, not Ted. It is his universe, and he populates it as he wishes. But does that mean that he can change it at will? Carly Simon can tell us who "You're So Vain" was about, but the idea is that she is telling us a fact about herself; whom she had in mind when she wrote it. Can she suddenly decide, these many years later, that some other asshole is a better fit? So now it's about him?

HoodlumDoodlum said...

It really is a week for nostalgia--first Bloggingheads and now TWOP. TWOP was great--it was pretty much the only reason I watched some shows and was an absolute lifesaver for others that I "had to" watch with my then-girlfriend. I also miss it but have probably saved many hours of time due to its demise.

rcocean said...

"There is something peculiar in the idea that we can find out "what happened" in a work of fiction by asking the author."

Why is it peculiar? In this case, Chase shot the Soprano's episode in certain way. If he doesn't know, no one knows.

We're not talking about whether person X was the subject of a song written 40 years ago.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

The theory I liked was that it was a death scene but for "the viewer" and not for Tony--the Member's Only guy whacks the audience proxy. It was a pretty fleshed out theory but apparently Chase specifically said it was wrong. But, you know, what would he know about it anyway?!

rcocean said...

Nostalgia. Another one of these words, I have no idea what's its supposed to mean

Or rather, I don't know what it means when people stray from the Dictionary definition.

rcocean said...

9 times out of 10, when people use the word "Nostalgia" they're trying to put=down someone or something.

William said...

It was consistently good, but the first two seasons were the best. The story arc was more malign and paranoic. When your own mother is setting up the hit, you know you're in dark waters. Nancy Marchand did a terrific job as the Sicilian mother. She was something more than the character she played. She was the vengeful forces of Mother Nature. I enjoyed the other shows, but of all the dark characters, she was the darkest.

William said...

I'm a big GOT fan. The show is a dramatization of all the myths and atrocities of Western Civ. I've seen references to Iphigenia, Seneca, Little Eva, the Gunpowder Plot, St Francis, the St Bartholomew Day's Massacre, Genghis Khan and the horde, Frankenstein, and probably many other incidents and myths I don't know about. The dragons of the hot blonde, for example, may be a reference to the dragons of Confucius which are said to be in eternal conflict with the Phoenix (i.e. Cersei) forces, and that's not even a western myth. At any event, the series takes all these old myths and makes you see them as if for the first time.. You'll never see a better dramatization of Iphigenia than was seen on that show.......Shakespeare's Globe was located in a part of London that featured brothels and bear baiting rings. Shakespeare found a way to compete with the sex and the violence by dramatizing it and giving it poetry. I won't make such a grand claim for GOT, but there's something about it that transcends the base material.

SweatBee said...

You can find most of the gang from the original (before it was sold) TWOP over at Previously.tv. They don't do full recaps for most of the shows, but the forums have the same vibe.

Gunner said...

I got banned from TWOP several times for arguing against the rampant Bush hatred on their Daily Show board. I am sure those people would give anything for Karl Rove to still be their biggest devil now.

FullMoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Lopes said...

If an author (or a director or a producer)
presents me with an ambiguous ending and refuses to clarify it, he/she/it is handing the ending over to me. I can pretend (we are dealing with a fictional world with fictional people after all) it ended any old way I wanted it to end.

Sure Tony could have been killed. Or he could have been setting up an exploratory committee to run for president. Either one is equally true, since none of it is.

Tina Trent said...

The last scene of the Sopranos was perfect. It is the only time the family eats together at a cheap restaurant. It shows how their life would have been without the mob. And it's normal and really good: mom, dad, kids, jukebox, burgers. But then we're lifted back into the mob life and the consequences arrive.

Brian said...

It's always been a fascinating thing to me to find myself rooting for the most heinous guys in these shows like the Sopranos and The Godfather.

I liked the finale because I thought it was a direct reference to the audience wanting violence against Tony. Leading up to the finale there were plenty of references to "How will Tony die?" in the media and among fans. He had done such terrible things. He deserved to die. We had watched so many deaths through the seasons. We wanted to watch his as well. Despite the fact we, as the audience, was rooting for him. The perfect anti-hero. We were rooting for a horrible man and wondering how he was going to get out of his latest predicament.

So cut to black.

You don't deserve to get what you want. Sometimes evil men don't get what is coming for them.

Today, they would say it was an allegory about how we all normalized Trump.

tim in vermont said...

Bobby Gentry always claimed when asked, that she had no idea what was thrown off of the Tallahachee Bridge.