Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Tony!

[posted by dinah]


Tony Soprano with his emotional support duck

Season Six has ended, and for the first time, I am disappointed.

Last summer, The Sopranos gave my life meaning. Why? I don't know.... It's a dramatic thing to say, but it somehow did. I'd never watched the show, though several people suggested I should... It's set in Elizabeth, NJ, the land of my childhood, and it opened with a mob boss seeing a psychiatrist. What more could I want? Still, for years, I resisted. I don't like TV (too busy blogging, I suppose) and I don't care about the mob. Until, one day my husband arrived home with the first half of the first season on VHS tapes, on sale for $5. Instantly, I was hooked. We watched one episode a night, sometimes two. I thought we were nearly done, when I discovered another tape; I was disappointed.

"I thought we were making progress," I said.

"I don't want to make progress," he said. "I want to watch TV."

We finished the VHS tapes, and I started to rent the sequential episodes at Blockbuster. Only, I had to watch them in order, so there were days I would call four different Blockbuster stores searching for the right volume of the right season, and then run around town fetching and returning the DVDs. Maybe it didn't give me meaning, but it did give me focus and purpose, and it kept me busy (actually, I didn't have a blog back then). It wasn't as good as talking to prisoners while sitting on an upside-down bucket, but I was able to negotiate these transactions without the aid of a support goat.

The summer ended and we'd made progress; we'd seen every episode. At some point we even caught up enough to watch The Sopranos with the rest of the world on TV as it was aired.

My favorite plotline will always be the insatiable priest who was fixated on Carmela's home cooking with this odd sexual twist to his appetite. "I've got the only priest who's straight," she lamented. And didn't you love (and squirm a bit) when Tony had Dr. Melfi's car stolen to repair it? Finally, there was something rich about his dilemma of how to present his career to his own children-- his sense of wanting AJ to be like him, but to be protected from his world as the central conflict he brought to psychotherapy. Oh, I could go on and on....

There were some frustrating moments in the earlier seasons as well. Dr. Melfi was developed in the second season (I think it was the second season) as being torn about treating Tony...she is stressed by the issues that arise in his therapy, and we get insights into her quandary through her sessions with her own psychiatrist, Eliot. At one point, she confesses to Eliot that she is drinking too much, and agrees to go to an AA meeting-- the plot line drops here and we never hear about this again. I didn't forget, however, and waited an entire season for it to resume before I finally faced the sad truth that this had been brought into the script for no apparent reason. And I wasn't sure what to make of Dr. Melfi's rape-- I wondered, as I suppose the script writers would like, if Tony had something to do with this, though apparently not. Again, a couple of episodes and the fact of the rape was as though it had never happened.

So, this season: I thought the whole suspense of whether Tony would die (of course he wouldn't, he's the protagonist!) was too drawn out, the hospital scenes became tedious, the issue of his changed identity in the fantasy scenes from the coma...They did nothing for me. Vito, the not-so-closet homosexual was destined to die, and it felt so unfair, but that was perhaps the one plot line seen to completion. Christopher's back using drugs, Carmela remains hung up on what happened to Adrianna...I suppose there's another season, but it was a bit frustrating to have this season end on Christmas shot, shown in my living room in June.

I did get one answer, though. A number of posts back, I talked about my criminal patient and referred to Tony Soprano and how I didn't know what he was working on in treatment any more. In this season's final episode, he said to Dr. Melfi, "I come to hang out with you; the therapy's not going nowhere anymore." (or something like that) He adds the insight that the women he's attracted to for his extra-marital affairs are all like her.

Okay, there are more episodes to come. I hope they're worth the wait.