Hogan's Alley

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Sopranos - Oh What A Tangled Web

David Chase and company are to be congratulated. They have provided us with yet another season of shows that cannot be missed. In last night's sterling example Tony is now out of his coma, but not yet up to full speed. He is even tolerating the ministrations of a fundamentalist preacher who asserts that the earth was created 6,000 years ago and that dinosaurs and humans lived together, as Tony says, "like the Flintstones."

Paulie has run amok after his "aunt", a nun on her deathbed, revealed that she was really his mother; Johnnie Sack has had it with accommodating Tony and Tony is settling for deals he wouldn't have accepted before the shooting; and Carmella has warned Tony not to trust his own capos, especially Vito, who has shown a continuing interest in Meadow's boyfriend Finn. The plot possibilities are endless. And how about savoring the richness of the mix in Tony's hospital ward. A philosopher-scientist played gloriously by Hal Holbrook, a whining recently wounded rap star and, as the rapper calls Tony, an "old time G", all of them watching a prizefight via badly tuned satellite in a hospital room? Just sit back an enjoy the ride.

Compare the glories of this best of the HBO series with the painfully slow exposition in possibly the best of commercial TV dramas, Lost. Virtually every episode is dragged almost to a stop by the flashbacks. Obviously these are meant to provide background about the shows characters, but writing these distractions keeps the show's writers from doing the heavy lifting of driving forward the story line in this most improbable of mysterious islands. The problem is, the unfolding of the storyline is what this viewer and I suspect many others, crave. The flashbacks are something we must survive, at least until the whole enterprise becomes boring, at which the show will have jumped the proverbial shark.