A black screen stared back at me as I panicked, trying to find out if my cable had dumped, if I'd somehow done something to deny me of the REAL end to "The Sopranos". It had to be a technical mistake...something I'd fat-fingered as I'd set up my DVR and VHS to catch the final moments of one of t-v's best shows.
That was it.
And, I guess I shouldn't be surprised.
I'd spent weeks on the air, warning that creator David Chase wasn't one to cave in to the obvious, that he wrote "The Sopranos" the way life happens: some things get resolved, others don't. It's what differentiated "The Sopranos" from everything we'd ever seen before on the small screen. Remember the season premiers that people grumbled about year after year for not being "good enough"? Or the finales that left fans wanting? The dream sequences that made no sense? It's because Chase didn't need to use the medium's usual devices to keep his audience interested--he didn't have to rely on cliffhangers and other tricks to keep us coming back. He had compelling characters and storylines to do that.
And, we returned, even if it meant waiting a year or more for a new season to start.
Think of your own life. Do any of your dramas wrap up in neat little 60 minute packages? Did all of your relationships resolve in 16 or so episodes?
Did you ever have a dream that shook you to your foundation, that stayed with you the next morning, that had nothing to do with anything that was happening in your real life?
That's the beauty of "The Sopranos". It's a tale about people doing things we couldn't imagine, but that we can all relate to. Most of us will never be involved in asbestos dumping, chasing down Russian killers, or crooked construction projects. Fewer still ever killed anyone.
Yet, we all have a messed up relative, a kid with issues, friends with needs, spouses who don't understand.
That's where "The Sopranos" clicked.
I'd predicted an open-ended final episode, one that didn't satisfy or answer all of the show's lingering questions. And, never has an audience been so riveted by a family munching onion rings.
Our stories end each night when we close our eyes. Story lines come and go, with some resuming the next day, others left hanging. People come, stay for a while, then go. Others return when we least expect it.
Will the same be true of "The Sopranos"?