[B]FYI, Here's the article that Chase is quoted from, explaining aspects of The Test Dream:[/B]
[B](From The Star Ledger):[/B]
[B]"The stuff that Tony's dreams are made of"[/B]
Monday, March 06, 2006
THERE ARE going to be more dreams. Deal with it.
The only complaint more persistent among "Sopranos" fans than all the whining about whacking is those loud and long protests whenever Tony checks into a hotel and the viewers check into his unconscious mind.
The nightmarish griping came to a head late last season with "The Test Dream," an episode whose centerpiece was a 20-minute, 38-second dream sequence that included Tony on horseback; Annette Bening and dead cop Vin Makazian as the parents of Meadow's boyfriend, Finn; dead characters riding with Tony in his father's car, and Tony chased by a torch-bearing, lederhosen-clad mob, among other surreal images.
"The Test Dream" seemed to especially anger the whacking crowd because it took place late in the season, just as the New York mob civil war storyline was threatening to satisfy their bloodlust.
The "Sopranos" writers know a portion of their audience doesn't like the dreams.
And they don't care.
"People complained to me about it," says writer/producer Terence Winter, "and I said, "The opening shot of this series is a guy in a psychiatrist's office. You think maybe the show is going to deal with dreams and psychology?' That's how you've met Tony Soprano, so the show deals with that stuff. So if you're interested in Tony Soprano, aren't you interested in what he thinks about, what he dreams about? You would hope.
"Unfortunately, some people, all they're interested in is the mob (stuff). Everyone has their own thing. You can't please everybody."
"I know people complain about them, but we come by them honestly," agrees creator David Chase. "This is the story of a therapy patient, and dreams form a lot of that."
It's not as if "The Test Dream" should have been such a shock to the audience's system. Tony has been having bizarre dreams and hallucinations going all the way back to the show's fourth episode, where he struggled with erotic fantasies about Dr. Melfi and nightmares that his fellow mobsters would find out she was treating him.
And that was far from the last one before "The Test Dream." To name just a few: Near the end of season one, he hallucinated entire encounters with an Italian woman staying at the house next door. Whole chunks of "Funhouse," the season two finale, were taken up with visions of Tony at the Jersey Shore, lighting himself on fire and having conversations with a talking fish that sounded a lot like Big Pussy. The fourth season's "Calling All Cars" introduced the idea of Johnny Soprano's car as a chariot for the dead.
And over the years, we've also seen the dreams of Melfi (trapped under a vending machine as her rapist approaches), Christopher (haunted by the ghost of the first man he killed) and even Silvio (searching the Bada-Bing for a piece of cheese to feed that dead rat Pussy).
Though the dreams can illustrate aspects of Tony's psyche that plot and dialogue can't, they often serve a more practical purpose.
"We've used those dreams to further the narrative," says Chase. "For example, "Funhouse' could have been a story in which Tony gets some information that Pussy's the rat and he tracks it down and we do some stultifying procedural until we have the proof in hand. And I just couldn't go through that. I can't stand that (stuff). So we just decided it would be more interesting, that on some level Tony knows this, that his friend is betraying him, and it makes him ill in combination with some bad chicken, and his subconscious erupts like that and gives him the information."
Same with "The Test Dream," which took place just as Tony's cousin Tony B. was seeking vengeance against New York captain Phil Leotardo for the death of his friend Angelo. As Tony was dreaming of Tony B. shooting at Phil with his finger, the real Tony B. was using a real gun to wound Phil and kill Phil's brother Billy.
The episode's title refers to one of the classic anxiety dreams, in which you show up to school naked or otherwise unprepared to take a test or do some other task you're afraid to face. Throughout the dream, everyone Tony meets seems to be urging him to get rid of Tony B., from Bening to his high school football coach to the voice of God on the telephone -- played, appropriately, by Chase himself. ("I get those calls all the time," jokes Winter.)
"Tony knew, somehow or other, his cousin was up to no good," says Chase. "He got it a little wrong, but there was a feeling in his being somewhere that it was not going to end well with his cousin."
Chase, who scripts most of the dream sequences, acknowledges that "because we do a psychiatric show, (the dreams) are interpretable." However, the symbolism doesn't always come out intentionally.
Chase and the writers try to let the dream imagery "come from our subconscious," he said. While he was writing "Funhouse," the image of Tony riding a bicycle to a fish market came into his head, and then he remembered the success he had on "Northern Exposure" using digital technology to create a talking dog. From there, he wound up with Pussy as a talking fish, which in turn evoked the old "Godfather" line about sleeping with the fishes.
"So you have to wonder why, in my mind, subconsciously, he rode up to a fish market. I wasn't thinking, 'Let's do it, it'll be cool because he sleeps with the fishes.' It just started with this guy, he's riding somewhere, he's on a bicycle, and it turned out to be a fish market. And to me, that's kind of like a real dream. And then I realized, 'Oh, he sleeps with the fishes.' And then that led to the whole thing where (Pussy really) went into the ocean at the end."
Bening pops up in "The Test Dream" because, as Chase figures, "Tony watches mob movies, and he would've watched 'Bugsy.'" Vin Makazian isn't there because of his role in Tony's past, or because his first name sounds like Finn's, but simply because Chase missed working with actor John Heard.
It also isn't a coincidence that Tony's dreams in "Calling All Cars" and "Test Dream" both took place while he was staying in a hotel.
"It seems to me that when I travel, that I dream," says Chase. "Something about the foreign, strange room causes it, the dislocation. I think there are studies that show people dream more in hotels."
Early in the new season, Tony spends several episodes in another hotel in another strange city and ... well, we'll have to address that one, and what is and isn't a dream, a few weeks down the road, when heads will probably be scratched even more furiously than after "The Test Dream." "I, myself, find fault with (the dreams) sometimes," admits Chase. "I wish we could do them better. But I feel that there's a natural affinity between the way film unspools on a screen and the way a dream unspools. I can't stay away from it."