Wednesday, June 07, 2006


[posted by dinah]

Tony Soprano with his emotional support duck

Season Six has ended, and for the first time, I am disappointed.

Last summer, The Sopranos gave my life meaning. Why? I don't know.... It's a dramatic thing to say, but it somehow did. I'd never watched the show, though several people suggested I should... It's set in Elizabeth, NJ, the land of my childhood, and it opened with a mob boss seeing a psychiatrist. What more could I want? Still, for years, I resisted. I don't like TV (too busy blogging, I suppose) and I don't care about the mob. Until, one day my husband arrived home with the first half of the first season on VHS tapes, on sale for $5. Instantly, I was hooked. We watched one episode a night, sometimes two. I thought we were nearly done, when I discovered another tape; I was disappointed.

"I thought we were making progress," I said.

"I don't want to make progress," he said. "I want to watch TV."

We finished the VHS tapes, and I started to rent the sequential episodes at Blockbuster. Only, I had to watch them in order, so there were days I would call four different Blockbuster stores searching for the right volume of the right season, and then run around town fetching and returning the DVDs. Maybe it didn't give me meaning, but it did give me focus and purpose, and it kept me busy (actually, I didn't have a blog back then). It wasn't as good as talking to prisoners while sitting on an upside-down bucket, but I was able to negotiate these transactions without the aid of a support goat.

The summer ended and we'd made progress; we'd seen every episode. At some point we even caught up enough to watch The Sopranos with the rest of the world on TV as it was aired.

My favorite plotline will always be the insatiable priest who was fixated on Carmela's home cooking with this odd sexual twist to his appetite. "I've got the only priest who's straight," she lamented. And didn't you love (and squirm a bit) when Tony had Dr. Melfi's car stolen to repair it? Finally, there was something rich about his dilemma of how to present his career to his own children-- his sense of wanting AJ to be like him, but to be protected from his world as the central conflict he brought to psychotherapy. Oh, I could go on and on....

There were some frustrating moments in the earlier seasons as well. Dr. Melfi was developed in the second season (I think it was the second season) as being torn about treating Tony...she is stressed by the issues that arise in his therapy, and we get insights into her quandary through her sessions with her own psychiatrist, Eliot. At one point, she confesses to Eliot that she is drinking too much, and agrees to go to an AA meeting-- the plot line drops here and we never hear about this again. I didn't forget, however, and waited an entire season for it to resume before I finally faced the sad truth that this had been brought into the script for no apparent reason. And I wasn't sure what to make of Dr. Melfi's rape-- I wondered, as I suppose the script writers would like, if Tony had something to do with this, though apparently not. Again, a couple of episodes and the fact of the rape was as though it had never happened.

So, this season: I thought the whole suspense of whether Tony would die (of course he wouldn't, he's the protagonist!) was too drawn out, the hospital scenes became tedious, the issue of his changed identity in the fantasy scenes from the coma...They did nothing for me. Vito, the not-so-closet homosexual was destined to die, and it felt so unfair, but that was perhaps the one plot line seen to completion. Christopher's back using drugs, Carmela remains hung up on what happened to Adrianna...I suppose there's another season, but it was a bit frustrating to have this season end on Christmas shot, shown in my living room in June.

I did get one answer, though. A number of posts back, I talked about my criminal patient and referred to Tony Soprano and how I didn't know what he was working on in treatment any more. In this season's final episode, he said to Dr. Melfi, "I come to hang out with you; the therapy's not going nowhere anymore." (or something like that) He adds the insight that the women he's attracted to for his extra-marital affairs are all like her.

Okay, there are more episodes to come. I hope they're worth the wait.


ClinkShrink said...

Gosh, how could I have forgotten about Tony Soprano and his support ducks? That was a classic moment in television history. I too watched all the available seasons on DVD, although I have to say I didn't get to the point of calling around to find the missing episodes. When the daily dose of Sopranos wasn't available I augmented my entertainment with Oz episodes. Now there was a prison drama. As a general rule, I don't watch legal shows or police procedurals. In real life, serial killers and other murderers are never as charming, clever or interesting as they are in the movies. Real killers can't spell. Remember the old Eddie Murphy skit on Saturday Night Live where he recites his poem 'Cill My Landlord'? He nailed it. (Actually, real police have trouble spelling too. I can't tell you the number of police rape reports I've read where the victim suffered 'pencile penetration'.) The only thing I didn't like about Oz was that early on in the first season they couldn't seem to figure out what that nun actually did for a living. It was clear she was a mental health worker of some type, but they interchangibly referred to her as a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Eventually they settled on just calling her 'doctor'. And the prison was far too clean.

Then there's Prison Break. The only reason I started watching this series was because I read it had been filmed in the old Marion facility. The set was better---it actually looked like a prison for the most part, except again it was just too clean. The season ended recently with the promised breakout. The best part in the season finale was the scene with Haywire, the mentally ill inmate who also escaped. He was last seen wearing a football helmet for no apparent reason, riding down the street on a bicycle with his arms outstretched in a Titanic-ish 'King of the World' moment. Whatever happens next season, Haywire better be free, healthy and happy.

ClinkShrink said...

In some facilities custody is responsible for choosing the TV shows and the movies, to avoid inmate fights over the channel. It seems to work pretty well, except for one poor correctional officer who chose the wrong movie.

I'm sure that if I searched hard enough I could find a lawsuit over inmates forced to watch Gigli.

Dinah said...

Is there no escape valve? I posted on The Sopranos because I'd had enough forensic/correctional psychiatry to last a lifetime, and still you've managed to turn my post into What the Prisoners Watch! Do you people think about anything besides your prisoners?

Dinah said...

If she's really not in jail, then I'd love to hear about her. What would be the real kicker here would be if it turned out that ClinkShrink was really your mother! Now there would be an episode for Reality Blog. Even I'd need a goat.

ClinkShrink said...

Speaking of surprise mothers, I just saw a great movie that would probably also not go over well in prison: TransAmerica.

Sorry Dinah, but now whenever I hear or see anything related to transexuals I think of you. If I were a mean person I would just leave the comment at that on the blog and let you explain it. I'm not mean, so I'll just say read The Book and you'll get it.

Meanwhile, I'm wondering if you have to stop lithium a day before a sweat lodge ceremony if it's true body temperatures get to 102-106 degrees.

Dinah said...

Stop the lithium before the sweat lodge.

My character was a transvestite, not a transexual.

TransAmerica was GREAT. I love the name, too.

Blogger just ate my long post. I could cry.

Oh, and I thought I'd redirected the comments to you and Roy?

Steve & Barb said...

Okay, there are more episodes to come. I hope they're worth the wait.

Put it on your calendar.

ClinkShrink said...

I just spit up coffee on my monitor---next time warn me about those serial killer links, OK?. See Dinah? I wasn't the one bringing up criminals that time. But speaking of serial killers, I'm reminded of Ed Gein. Gein lived as a man but he also occasionally dressed himself with real female genitalia. Does this make him a transexual, a transvestite, transgendered, or just a taxidermist?