Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sopranos Cat Sopranos Cat Lincoln's Doctor's Dog

That headline dates me. Fifty years ago (or more) I read a joke in the Readers Digest that suggested "Lincoln's Doctor's Dog" would be the ideal book title if you were relying on the title to sell books.

Yesterday I discovered that the phrase "Sopranos cat," and its many variants, was drawing people to this blog in unprecedented numbers, more than twice my previous daily high. I am not one to climb down off a winning horse.

So: Once more into the breech, dear cat. A few more Sopranos comments:

* Two days after the episode I am less happy with it. Though the ending is certainly justified thematically -- life goes on for Tony and life will be a little harder -- life does not "go black." A final long shot. A slow fade. That would say life goes on. Is there a film book out there with a list of stylistic conventions for ending a story? The journalism text I use has a list of techniques, with examples, for ending stories, so I would imagine that someone has made a list for film, an explanation of vocabulary if you will. Chase's abrupt termination makes us think of ... Chase. It calls attention to the man behind the curtain. It's a vanity. I suppose it's a way of SHOUTING that that is just a fiction. And it belongs to David Chase. He was just letting us play with it for a while.


(Just a footnote here. You've read the theory that the final abrupt cut means Tony has just been whacked. No, it means Jesus has just returned and Tony has been "raptured" to Heaven. Whatever you want. I'll wrap it for you. Yes, Tony told Bobby that if you were whacked you probably wouldn't know it was happening. And when Bobby got whacked? He knew it was happening.)

* That cat. I liked seeing the cat because I like cats. I worried about the cat's welfare however, as I worry about the welfare of all animals in films and TV shows. I don't like to see them get killed. I am always afraid that maybe they actually hurt the animals -- though this fear has diminished over the years as I learn more about the rules governing the use of animals in Hollywood. Phil's head getting squashed was amusing. Paulie's hurting the kitty would not have been. Same thing would have been true of a dog or a box turtle. I am less able to suspend disbelief when it comes to violence against animals or children. But my point is that on one level the cat added to my anxiety.

* That cat as a symbol. What a lousy symbol! Back in grad school I would have called this pathetic fallacy, the notion that non-human nature can in some way reflect or embody the emotions of characters in a piece of fiction. I'm not saying The Sopranos has been an exercise in naturalistic verisimilitude, but the cat staring at Christopher's picture no matter where it hung.... It violates the Rules of Cat. In "In Cold Blood" Capote has two stray cats on the street picking over the remains of dead birds and it is clearly a symbol of Dick and Perry, but I am also willing to assume that there really were stray cats somewhere on the main street of that little town in Kansas picking a dead bird out of the front grill of an automobile. I don't believe a ginger cat wandered into Tony's life channeling nemesis or conscience or whatever. Tony's ducks: They worked as both ducks and symbol. The cat as a mirror into ... something? No.

Once again, we see the man behind the curtain. More and more I'm thinking that in his final episode Chase took the lazy way out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My theory on the cat: He looks at the picture of dead Christopher, then looks at the chair Tony has just vacated. Paulie is afraid of both death and the cat. The cat is death; Tony is dead.