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Sean Daly, Michelle Stark and Sharon Kennedy Wynne

Sopranos Debate Continues as Series Creator Declines to Explain

12

June

Sopranoes0603_468x557 On Monday, the world seemed to be divided into two types of people: those who hated the Sopranos finale, and those who wrote me really P.O.'ed emails.

"Maybe David Chase was pointing a middle finger directly at you," wrote reader J. E. Smith in a particularly sympathetic email. "He certainly wasn't pointing it at loyal followers of the Sopranos in the incredible series finale, most of whom remained sympathetic to Tony in the end and weren't looking forward to him getting whacked..."Confusing, hodgepodge of a story''? I can't remember the last time I read a review that missed the mark this badly."

Another satisfied customer.

It seemed that everyone I met yesterday wanted to discuss the finale, with about 60 percent still supportive of Sopranos creator David Chase and his odd finale. When the TV critic's Web site TVTattle.com lined up the reviews, I stood with Newsday, Salon, LA Weekly's Nikki Finke and the New York Daily News in bitter anger over the proceedings. Time magazine, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Newark Star Ledger and USA today were more supportive.Davidchase

Chase himself, speaking to the Star-Ledger in an exclusive interview scheduled before the season started, insisted he wasn''t out to piss off anyone.

" "I have no interest in explaining, defending, reinterpreting, or adding to what is there," he says of the final scene. "No one was trying to be audacious, honest to God," he adds. "We did what we thought we had to do. No one was trying to blow people's minds or thinking, 'Wow, this'll (tick) them off.'

"People get the impression that you're trying to (mess) with them, and it's not true. You're trying to entertain them."

In that final scene, mob boss Tony Soprano waited at a Bloomfield ice cream parlor for his family to arrive, one by one. What was a seemingly benign family outing was shot and cut as the preamble to a tragedy, with Tony suspiciously eyeing one patron after another, the camera dwelling a little too long on Meadow's parallel parking and a walk by a man in a Members Only jacket to the men's room. Just as the tension ratcheted up to unbearable levels, the series cut to black in mid-scene (and mid-song), with no resolution.

Sopranos "Anybody who wants to watch it, it's all there," says Chase, 61, who based the series in general (and Tony's relationship with mother Livia specifically) on his North Caldwell childhood."

So there you have it. Ending the most-lauded TV series in recent memory on an ambiguous, unsettling cut to a black screen wasn't really an attempt to mess with us all or give us the bird. It was just business. Never personal.

Wonder how many people are responding to Chase's entertainment by cancelling their HBO subscriptions?

Rescue Me Star Denis Leary Exposed

Leary200 I'm too exhausted from answering angry reader emails to write a full-on preview of tomorrow night's premiere of FX's primo firefighter dramedy series, Rescue Me. But I did take a stab at outlining the growing friction between FX and HBO for title of coolest TV Outlet Ever.

For an interview with Leary better than any I could have concocted, check out this interview on NPR's Fresh Air where Leary talks about turning 50 (?!), trying to quit smoking and how firefighters are a breed apart. Rescue Me comes back for its fourth season tomorrow at 10 p.m. on FX.

Do You Really Want Ed Begley Jr Removing Your Appendix?

I have officially been in this job too long. Because I can't decide whether this is a really cool series idea from boomer-centered cable channel TV Land or really sad:

Erikestrada "What happens when Sherman Hemsley spends the day sweating it out at a real dry cleaning establishment? Can Loni Anderson really hack it as a receptionist at a top radio station? And does the courtroom listen when Harry Anderson starts hitting the gavel? Viewers will find out when TV Land airs Back to the Grind, a new original series premiering Wednesday, July 18 at 10:30 p.m. This half-hour series challenges iconic TV performers to actually work in the jobs their TV characters held on shows like The Jeffersons, Night Court and WKRP in Cincinnati. Other performers featured in the series include Erik Estrada, Marla Gibbs, Betty White, Mark Curry, Bea Arthur, Ed Begley Jr. and Jimmie Walker."

 

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:39pm]

    

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