Back in March of 2000, there was a commercial for Sierra fabric softener. Suddenly, as the pastoral scenes played out, a roach crawled across the TV screen.
Turns out it was really a commercial for Orkin pest control. But people thought the cockroach was really on their TV screens and there were several reports of them freaking out about it. One lady even threw a motorcycle helmet at the screen and broke her TV.
Well, that's how I felt when 'The Sopranos' ended last night. I was all dressed and ready to bolt at 10:05 to get to work in time, but suddenly the screen went black. "No, no, no!" I cried out. I thought my cable went out! And if you had Time Warner in this neighborhood, you would think the same thing!
I'm sure there are fanatics for the show who read my post from Sunday and considered it treason. I said it's one of the best shows ever on TV, but certainly not THE GREATEST show ever. Those people will accept nothing less but the best declaration for it.
And yet, - this is where you cue up Alanis Morrisette - those are the people who will probably disagree with me when I say that ending was fantastic!
What else could David Chase have done? There was no way of pleasing everybody if any other ending had been used. You have Tony blown away, you'll get angry fans who wanted him to survive. Put him in the witness protection program, and you'll bleep off those who only watched the show for the whackings.
But this way, the show could go any number of ways. Was the guy going into the bathroom getting a gun in there, a la "The Godfather"? Was the redneck in the cap an undercover fed? Were those two young thugs there to rob the ice cream parlor and might shoot Tony by coincidence?
Or was he looking up to see Meadow enter and he and the family would have a nice meal.....
(Personally, that's what I think happened, and who knows what would happen further down the road? I think indictments were likely. Besides, do you think Holsten's would really want to be connected to the image of a mob hit, even if it was just suggested?)
That sudden ending - more of a stopping than an ending - appealed to me because it summed up my concept of Toobworld: just because a show is no longer on the air, that doesn't mean the lives of its characters end. They continue to exist, living out their allotted times on Earth Prime-Time.
I think if anything was going to kill Tony, it's going to be more of those onion rings!
I don't think it can be ranked up there as one of the greatest finales ever - that belongs to 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show', 'Newhart', and 'St. Elsewhere' (although my interpretation of that differs from others). But it was perfectly in keeping with the Toobworld Dynamic and what more can I ask for?
And you can't beat the dispatching of Phil. Combined with the abortive attempt by AJ to get it on with Rhiannon, I've learned a very important lesson about the TV Universe.
SUVs want to kill us.
Along with the suspense throughout the episode - loved that summit with Butchie and the Brooklyn Consigliore brokered by Little Carmine - I found the use of the scene from 'The Twilight Zone' to be an interesting take on the writer's place in TV. Even if it was a Zonk.
So it's over, but this being Toobworld, the lives of the Soprano family continue. We just won't be able to see it unfold.
Oh - one last thought - give Paulie and the Cat their own children's show!