Was Chase's S6 Vision Worth the Loss of Burgess/Green?

#1
This post from FlyOnMelfisWall on the main thread about this episode jumped out at me:

If we take the show only for what it seems to offer, we can conclude that he believes in something called the "soul" or "spirit" in which some consciousness or metaphysical realm of existence persists outside the body. A quote from Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess from the recent Written By feature on the Sopranos, which for some reason didn't show up in the scanned article jouster provided us but which he quoted to me verbatim one night in chat, suggests that they left the show at least in part because of an inability to grasp or deal with what Chase wanted to do in Join the Club/Mayham. And they specifically mentioned the "darkness" of it. (jouster, if you're reading this, perhaps you can give the exact quote.) Burgess remarked elsewhere after the departure that one of the attractive things about running your own show is that you're the boss and you're always right. All of this suggests to me that this area is something of great personal importance to Chase and something he was quite authoritative in pursuing.


Haven't read this quote/article but Fly has, and that's good enough for me. Assuming this is true, has the whole "Kevin Finnerty" angle of this sixth season of the "Sopranos" (started on 'Join the Club/Mayhem/Cold Cuts' in 6A and resurfaced strongly in 6B with 'Kennedy and Heidi') been worth the loss by rejection of Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess? Except for Terence Winter Mitchell & Burgess have been the strongest and most consistent writers on "The Sopranos." These were the guys that "got" 'The Sopranos' in its infancy when it wasn't a water cooler show, and even they couldn't grasp the vision thing that Chase imposed on the show's final batch of episodes. Like Tony himself Chase may have isolated and retreated into a state of mind were criticsm, feedback and second opinion from trusted collaborators (which Mitchell & Burgess were) can't reach the man. Most importantly, by resigning rather than compromising their craft (i.e. writing for the final season of a cash cow TV show with a strong following regardless of whether they belived in the quality of Chase's arc/vision thing) Mitchell & Burgess can say something even David Chase can't: money didn't influence me into selling my soul for the sake of my employer getting the extra seasons of 'The Sopranos' it wanted when I knew all along the show was meant to run four seasons.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that maybe Chase should have listened to the constructive criticsm of writers/colaborators he trusted enough to hire early in the show's life (when he could have hired anybody he wanted to) and incorporate their valuable feedback alongside his own for the show's final season. You know, the way he must have wanted somebody to listen to his feedback when he was a staff writer/producer for "Rockford Files," "St. Elsewhere" and/or "Northern Exposure".

The resulting departure of our favorite "Sopranos" duo of writers has affected negatively the quality of "The Sopranos'" sixth season. No amount of satisfaction in comfort of being the showrunner and visionary can diminish the fact that because of David Chase we have hacks like Matthew Weiner writing scripts like 'Chasing It' and 'Kennedy and Heidi' instead of talented and proven-their-worth-with-these-material-and-characters pros like Mitchell & Burgess. It's not a crutch or a weakness to compromise one's vision of how a landmark show like this should end (especially to fellow writers, not corporate America) if it means there are more creative minds working on how to wrap things up than just the single creative mind of David Chase. What do you guys think?

Re: Was Chase's S6 Vision Worth the Loss of Burgess/Green?

#3
For me, the answer to your question is unqualifiedly "yes", and that's coming from someone who thought Green/Burgess scripts on the whole have been the second best (to Chase's) throughout the show, though Terrence Winter's work in this season may have moved him to number 2 for me.

More to the point, though, this is David Chase's show, has been since the very beginning, will be until the very end. Every character arc you see is the product of his brain. The scaffolding, the framing, the functional architecture is all his.

I did not intend to imply in any way in the passage you quoted that he didn't listen to or was not considerate of their viewpoints on the whole coma sequence. I have no personal knowledge whatsoever of the dynamics of those discussions. I'm only going by the two short statements in two separate interviews with Green/Burgess where they mention or allude to a creative difference.

I'm also factoring in stuff I didn't bother to mention, like the influence on Chase leading into season 6 of the death of John Patterson, who was not only the show's ace director and an acquaintance of Chase's from film school but was, according to accounts in this article, Chase's best friend. The "who am I, where am I going" was something Patterson said as he was dying. And the "going about in pity" aphorism was something Chase saw pinned on a board in Patterson's room as his health declined. Chase supposedly read the book that quote was clipped from, The Snow Leopard, and was very moved by the eastern religious/philosophical themes in it. Surprise, a lot of those concepts found their way into Tony's coma.

I surmise from all this that Chase felt very strongly about wanting to pursue this stuff and gave himself veto power in the writer's room. IMO, that's absolutely appropriate. He is the uber "boss" of the Sopranos franchise, and it's his judgment I trust unqualifiedly.

Besides which, I feel that season 6, aside from the Vito diversion, is shaping up to be the best of the series. I'm LOVING it and the biggest reason for that is that Chase is pursuing what most captivates me about the show and this character. Even in the hours of my post-Kennedy/Heidi emotional devastation,:icon_biggrin: I had to acknowledge the immense power of it.:icon_wink:
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: Was Chase's S6 Vision Worth the Loss of Burgess/Green?

#4
has the whole "Kevin Finnerty" angle of this sixth season of the "Sopranos" (started on 'Join the Club/Mayhem/Cold Cuts' in 6A and resurfaced strongly in 6B with 'Kennedy and Heidi') been worth the loss by rejection of Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess?


"Join the Club" is my favorite episode.

I read the (apparently abridged) article in "Written By" and was delighted to see that such a major portion of it was dedicated to the process of writing "Join the Club". I haven't read the Green/Burgess portion, but my guess is that when they claim that "We didn't understand it," they're politely saying that they didn't like it. Which, if you think about it, isn't all that surprising, given that the episodes they've written have usually been plot-driven.

And season six, on the whole, has not been plot-driven. So maybe (and this is only a guess) it's not just that they didn't understand/like the Join the Club/Mayham/Fleshy trio of episodes, but that they didn't like the way the show was unfolding overall. And if that is the case, it doesn't bother me that they left the show, because I do like the direction the show has taken. Barring any major hiccups in the final three shows, this is my favorite season of "The Sopranos".

Most importantly, by resigning rather than compromising their craft (i.e. writing for the final season of a cash cow TV show with a strong following regardless of whether they belived in the quality of Chase's arc/vision thing) Mitchell & Burgess can say something even David Chase can't: money didn't influence me into selling my soul for the sake of my employer getting the extra seasons of 'The Sopranos' it wanted when I knew all along the show was meant to run four seasons.


Sure, they could say that, but then they would have to explain why they stayed on for the fifth season, when they knew the show would only be good for four. Anyway, as I've mentioned, I think it was the change in narrative structure that made them leave the show. They are obviously very talented writers, and now that they're producing their own show ("Lucky Numbers" I think it's called) they get to call the shots.

The resulting departure of our favorite "Sopranos" duo of writers has affected negatively the quality of "The Sopranos'" sixth season. No amount of satisfaction in comfort of being the showrunner and visionary can diminish the fact that because of David Chase we have hacks like Matthew Weiner writing scripts like 'Chasing It' and 'Kennedy and Heidi' instead of talented and proven-their-worth-with-these-material-and-characters pros like Mitchell & Burgess.


I think this is arguable.

First of all, I'm not sure that Matthew Weiner is a hack. Like most people, I didn't like "Rat Pack", the first Weiner episode we were exposed to. I didn't like the some of the dialogue, much of the exposition, and the fact that all these new characters were being introduced at once. But it was a tricky episode and, ultimately, it was David Chase's responsibility to make it work since he is, as you say, the showrunner. But I liked "Mayham" and "Chasing It". And I loved "Unidentified Black Males", "The Test Dream" and especially "Kennedy and Heidi".

I think the best writer on the show is David Chase. He says (in an interview on the final disc of season one) that he wrote almost all of the first season. And since then, all the episodes credited to him (or partly to him) have been the best in terms of dialogue, character and pacing. And of course, he invented every character in the Sopranos universe, and the Sopranos universe itself.

But again, I guess it boils down to an opinion. Do you like the sixth season, or don't you?

(I realize it's a little late in the game to start posting, but I couldn't help myself. Hi, all!)
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MissShenanigans cam

Re: Was Chase's S6 Vision Worth the Loss of Burgess/Green?

#5
Dad1153, you're making a lot of assumptions about things that may or not be true to give validity to your opinion, which is well, an opinion. :icon_wink:

I believe in artistic vision, and being true to that. And I'm much more interested in David Chase's view of how the show should play out than Mitchell, Buress, Terrence Winter or anybody else's view. It may not be exactly what you or any of the writers have in mind, but I think the man has earned the right to do it his way, don't you think?

Or to put it another way, I feel really good about someone's creative ideas when they are willing to let valued collaborators go in order to defend it.

Not to mention that like Sundance above, I've loved the 6th season in it's entirety. It took a lot of artistic chances at a time when I felt the show needed a kick in the ass creatively. I really feel it'll be viewed in a MUCH better light when people put their expectations aside of what they thought the show should have been and give credit for what it was.
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