October 20, 2002


THE 'SOPRANOS' BACKLASH BEGINS: Every week the whispers get louder and louder. "They're losing their focus!" "It's not as good as before!" "WHEN'S SOMEONE GONNA GET WHACKED?" Yes, ever since the fourth season of "The Sopranos" got underway fans just seem to get more and more disapointed with each passing week. The New York Post's vacuous TV critic Adam Buckman added fuel to the flames, saying that he's "bored" with the season in a column last Tuesday, leading to an embarassing "how to fix 'The Sopranos'" feature in that paper on Thursday, with such cringe-inducing suggestions as "kill all the women" and "whack AJ and Meadow."
Now, I wouldn't say that this year's episodes have been the best of the series (with the exception of the second one, featuring Meadow's confrontation with therapist Linda Lavin). But at the same time, I haven't noticed an appreciable dropoff in quality. If there's anything I've learned from watching "The Sopranos" in the past three years, it's that a) it's the greatest show of its era, and b) the way the show flows, it's next to impossible to judge individual episodes until well after the fact, since minor plot points are often paid off four or five episodes later. Watching and appreciating "The Sopranos" requires more patience, more attention, and (dare I say) more intelligence than most other dramas on TV; Armond White has accused the show of elitism but as is often the case, he's full of shit.
The other problem, as I've mentioned before in this space, is that an uncomfortably large segment of the "Sopranos" audience doesn't care one iota about any of the show's true strengths (its depth of character, the great acting, the juxtaposition between family and "family," etc.) and tune in for no reason other to see "who's gonna get whacked!" And since no major characters have yet been whacked in the season's first five episodes, they somehow feel cheated because the show has left their bloodlust unquenched. Please. If you want to watch a TV show where someone gets eliminated every week, may I suggest "Survivor" or "The Bachelor." If mutilated corpses are what you crave, that's what "CSI" is for. "The Sopranos," from the beginning, has been about much more than just violence; indeed, last season all the complaints were about too much violence-make up your mind, people.
If you're bored with "The Sopranos" this year, I advise you to remain patient because it should all pay off eventually- the series is batting a thousand so far in that regard. But if your beef with the show is that not enough women have been beaten to death this season, I may suggest that you turn off the TV and find a Dr. Melfi of your own.

Posted by Stephen Silver at October 20, 2002 01:42 AM
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