Friday, July 27, 2007
There's a wonderful article in the New York Review of Books by Geoffrey O'Brien about The Sopranos. British readers may want to avoid this as it ends with a spoiler about the last episode. Two non-spoiling points are worth noting. O'Brien remarks on the way the show absolutely convinces us that the characters go on living their lives when not on screen. The viewer doesn't feel, as he does in lesser shows, that he is being led through a plot - in fact, as O'Brien says, the plot hardly matters at all - rather that he is being shown glimpses of ongoing lives. This shows an indebtedness to Scorsese's Goodfellas. But David Chase's genius was to sustain it through 86 episodes of a TV series. The second point is Chase's revulsion at the values of network TV. 'I loathe and despise almost every second of it...I considered network TV to be propaganda for the corporate state.' And of Northern Exposure, one of his own shows, he says, 'It rammed home every week the message that life is nothing but great, Americans are great and heartfelt emotion and sharing conquers everything.' But he had to do that to get where he is and, when he got there, he made The Sopranos - a show that rejects every one of those cosy nostrums. On the other hand, of course, American TV made this amazing show and that, surely, is a sign of some greatness.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 6:01 am