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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Can A Leopard Change His Spots?

For five seasons now David Chase has told you the way it's gonna be. You're gonna wait for episodes. You're gonna watch storylines hit a wall and character motives escape into the ether. You're gonna come back for more and guess what? You're gonna like it.

Tonight is the beginning of the end of The Sopranos. The sixth season to be followed by a final mini-season in January 2007. It's time to tie up all the loose ends. It's a grim reality, like the show itself, that we will need to face.

The thing that makes the show so special for me is what secretly makes it special for all viewers who grew up in the tri-state area. You know the language, the nuance and all the conflict found in that family. You chuckle at certain gestures or a piece of dialogue or something you remembered from your childhood. All of it and beyond. At the same time it taps into the universal everyman, like good drama does, and elevates him to Shakespearean heights. They are us and we are them.

Besides the walk down memory lane it is pure, conflict and craft. Some moments capture the distasteful aspects of life. Others make you laugh at your own mortality. The fact that it is so unapologetic for it's black humor and pessimistic view is the icing. Each season always explores theme with razor sharp teeth so why should this one be any different. Tony, here we are again; Can a man change? Can a man undo what he has done before it's too late?

Since television has turned into a virtual junk heap of reality shows (that I do admit to watching from time to time) and forensic procedural drama spin-offs, this is the stand-out. You wait because you know it's worth it. Above anything else there is something about the show that I always find more unbelievable than the writing, more unbelievable than the acting. Just the mere fact that it actually is.

Check out The House Next Door for journalist and filmmaker Matt Zoller Seitz's regular feature, Sopranos Monday, he's got the inside dope (being a critic for the Star Ledger of Newark he gets screener tapes of season six, damn that's juice!).

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