I've been a loyal (and repeated) viewer of every episode since the one where Brenden Fallone got it back in the first season, which was the first episode I saw. That one hooked me. The episode with Tony and Meadow doing college hunting made me fall in love. Through the bad and good times, I've followed the series.
And ultimately, I think the joke will be on us. The viewer like me, who stayed through this series and paid for HBO throughout, not unlike the guys who spent months camping out for tickets for "The Phantom Menace."
The show began to unravel halfway through season 3. HBO demanded more episodes, too much money was being thrown around, and hey, who's to say we wouldn't have done the same thing David Chase did with the series. He stretched the series out, and the dissenters like me could argue day and night for when it actually jumped the shark, but bottom line, The Sopranos jumped, and it jumped long ago.
- Dedicating a major bulk of screen time to a minor character to appease the gaysville Showtime audience?
- Tony's 1 and 1/2 episode gambling problem despite the very powerful flashback we all once saw with his dad warning him to "never gamble..."
- Suddenly a cousin we'd heard nothing about before and were supposed to accept as series canon? Why not bring in Corin Nemec as the live-in cousin to the brand new house with the secret passages? (Viewers of "Webster" will remember that reference to the cousin who suddenly appears out of nowhere in the show's penultimate season)
Season 1 and season 2 (especially 2) were remarkable. Awesome television, honest to the viewer. Even the bulk of season 3 was great.
But things fall apart, as "the genius" David Chase quotes in episode The Second Coming.
I've hated the character of Tony for a long time now. I think David Chase became revolted with the popularity and mindless drooling over Tony Soprano that he degraded the character into a totally unsympathetic eating and killing machine... basically a virus. And he just wanted to see how many of us would watch the show until the very end.
I'll be there, for sure, just like those geeks waiting for the Star Wars prequel.
I'd like the show to end with Tony's own guys (led by Paulie, and let us not forget Bill "Gonorrhea" Guarnere from Band of Brothers who just suddenly magically shows up like he's been there for years) beating him to death with two-by-fours and hammers in a sordid room. Like how Joe Pesci went out in "Casino." Very graphic, violent, drawn-out. It would give me (and I think a lot of you too) a great deal of satisfaction to see the show end this way.
However, the ending's going to be a cop-out. Just like every season finale since Big Pussy was dropped into the Atlantic. Anticlimactic, dropping plot lines, existential, and frankly... sloppy. That's just how it's going to be.
But I'll be there watching it... largely cause I hope I'm wrong.