Monday, June 11, 2007

Dead and Gone

In the summers, the off-season, I watch TV not in real time, not on DVR time, but in due time, which is to say, I use the summers to slowly catch up on shows on DVD. Most recently Alma and I cruised through the third and probably final season of "Deadwood," one of the best TV shows - or best anythings - I've ever seen. Unfortunately, David Milch, the genius creator of this most unique of westerns, has a short attention span, and moved on to the new surfing show "John from Cincinnati" before the characters of "Deadwood" had run their course. The third season/series finale of "Deadwood" is therefore both brilliant as usual and frustrating/sad for all the many loose ends. Yes, the course of the characters was somewhat limited by history; Milch based his show on historical figures and events so, say, George Hearst was never going to get murdered. But still, the show is so well written, cast and acted that it really could have gone on for years more.

Compare that to the very overrated "Sopranos," which may or may not have completed its arc last night with a finale that owed much to the final "Seinfeld"in its ambiguous embrace of nothing. I thought "The Sopranos" faded fast after the first season, and after following the faltering fits and starts story for a few more seasons, I eventually turned it off, though never totally tuned out. That's in part because people kept talking about it as the best mob story in history - or, even more hyperbolic, the best family drama on TV, ever. Well, phooey on that. "The Sopranos" tread half-familiar ground from the start, and all those who followed the show as legion are probably pissed and disappointed today that creator David Chase ended it on such a blah note. Chase ran out of story a while ago, so the fact that he was unable/unwilling to end the series neatly - or too afraid, or too greedy, the same reason he stretched the series on so long - should surprise no one. His abrupt conclusion is the creative coward's equivalent of the it-was-all-a-dream twist.

Other thoughts for further study: compare/contrast James Gandolfini's Tony Soprano and Ian MacShane's Al Swearingen. Both characters are complicated bad guys, both actors excellent, but there was just so much more to pragmatist Al, more twists and turns from protagonist to antagonist, than to Tony, fated to remain the same (amoral) protagonist for the sake of the series.


Blogger bk said...

Whither the two Deadwood movies? Do you know something?

5:04 PM  
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