Our problems remain epistemological.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Sopranos Exposed

If Sunday's episode of The Sopranos, with its meandering pop metaphysics about the pricelessness of every moment and us being interconnected atoms and all that stuff seemed overly familiar, it should. Like the vague pleasing vapors of Eastern mysticism put in a blender with the timeless wisdom of the Eskimos, mebbe. If you said it sure felt like an episode of Northern Exposure or something, you'd be right.

This season, Sopranos creator David Chase has brought in his fellow alumni of Northern Exposure, Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider, as producers and writers, and I do hope that last night's installment isn't what we have to look forward to for the rest of the run. Those eloquent vacuousnesses were kind of cute set in Alaska, where there isn't anything better to do than muse about rocks and birds and stuff, but this is New Jersey, with marks to be extorted and wiseguys to be whacked.

I could also have lived without the sideways snarks at the consciences of pharmacists re dispensing abortifacients, the cold efficiencies of the health insurance industry, and Evangelicals as creepy Old Earth creationists who look like Christian Slater off his meds.

Entertainment without moral passion is television, said Rita Mae Brown, and I've admired Frolov & Schneider for their career accomplishments in elevating the form. But Brown also noted that moral passion without entertainment is propaganda, and that's what we got on Sunday. The ideological product placements did nothing to advance the plot or characters, and their baldness took me out of the dramatic moment as the authors parked their own post-Enlightenment sensibilities in brutal mobster Tony Soprano's mouth. Next he'll be on about the inherent morality of tax increases.

I go to The Sopranos for the Iliad, not for The Chris Isaak Show, which Frolov & Schneider helmed, too. I want epic, not Oprah, y'know? Achilles didn't give a fig about carbon dating.


emil shue said...

Well expressed, now how about giving it to David Kelly for the sharp left turn of Boston Legal. Who did he bring in? Larry O'Donnell and Ellen DeGeneres? They never seem to learn the dangers of preaching. When half the congregation doesn't like the sermon, the offering suffers.

Hunter Baker said...

I was a big fan of Northern Exposure. Made it appointment viewing, which is rare for me.

I've never gotten into the Sopranos, I suspect because I ultimately don't like a show that makes us appreciate the bad guys too much.

Yes, yes. Black, white, shades of gray. I know.

S. T. Karnick said...

Emil Shue's reference to Boston Legal is spot-on. The show is a dreadful mess. As the great film producer Jack Warner said, if you want to send a message, use Western Union. Just telling a good story is far more valuable than telling us how to live and think, but TV producers all too quickly learn to believe the hype about their talents.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I forgot this one they slipped in, HB, between Hesch and his wife:

Wife: You can disagree with the evangelicals but they're great friends of the Jews because Israel is the Holy Land.

Hesch: You wait.

I don't remember any agenda like that on Northern Exposure. The secular left despises the religious right, and it steams out their ears these days.

James F. Elliott said...

"could also have lived without the sideways snarks at the consciences of pharmacists re dispensing abortifacients,"

This indicates that you have literally no idea what you are talking about on that issue.

KeithM, Indy said...

Hey, I can appreciate Americas favorite mobster putting the dig to insurance providers. I think I heard a collective cheer on that line.

I think Tony may have found the families next product line...