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Monday, March 13, 2006

"The Sopranos" -- Season Premiere from Sun 3/12/06

Last night was the premiere episode of the sixth season of "The Sopranos" on HBO.

It is my contention that one of the factors that makes "The Sopranos" so great is that "The Sopranos" is concerned with the metaphysics of television itself. The series is interested in how both television shows and films replayed on television enter into the houses and comment on the action taking place in people's lives.

Television in "The Sopranos" is like a Greek chorus, continually commenting on the action either through strikingly apt TV shows or films airing on TV that correspond to the action, or through comically absurd comparisons with what is on TV versus what is happening in the plot.

In that sense, "The Sopranos" is very much like Don DeLillo's White Noise, which is in my opinion DeLillo's best novel.

In last night's Season 6 premiere episode of "The Sopranos," Uncle Junior was watching the film Paths of Glory with Kirk Douglas on his television set. That film generally deals with the futility and pointlessness of war (specifically the trenches of WWI).

The scene that was shown right when Tony showed up at Uncle Junior's house was the scene in which Adolphe Menjou's character (General Broulard) castigates Kirk Douglas's character (Colonel Dax). The General says, "You've spoiled the keenness of your mind by wallowing in sentimentality...You are an idealist, and I pity you as I would the village idiot."

The fact that Uncle Junior, who is suffering from dementia, is watching such a movie on television indicates the probable proximate cause for the mindset that led to the surprising event that ended the season premiere.

(I won't say what that event is, in case someone reads the blog post and hasn't seen the episode yet).

To reiterate: It is my contention that one of the factors that makes "The Sopranos" great is comprised of the series's insightful use of, and perspicacious commentary on, the metaphysics of television itself.


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