Saturday, July 06, 2013

Whither Television's Kaelses and Sarriseses?

I have a confession to make: I've yet to see the concluding episode of The Sopranos.

I stopped watching sometime in the fourth season — not because I lost interest, but because life got in the way. My daughters were getting older and staying up later, and weren't yet old enough to process all those cutaway shots of Tony exercising employer's privilege with his strippers (to take just one 'for instance'), so the family television was devoted to other shows and movies, until such a time as my wife and I could return to watching the morally awkward stuff.

But then The Wire came along, and several other pretty-good shows, and . . . I did lose interest. With Gandolfini's death, it's back, kind of. Who knows? Someday I might yet finish watching The Sopranos, but there's no point making any promises. I've still got Breaking Bad and three more seasons of Mad Men to catch up on.

But I'm gratified to know I am not alone: Terry Teachout admits the same. And he's actually paid to watch and write about this stuff. So, in answer to Ken Tucker's (rhetorical) question: “Who have been television's Pauline Kaels, its Andrew Sarrises?”: no-one, of course. And there are several very good reasons for this absence of Elite Critical Consideration Sandwiched Between Hardcovers — besides the (to understate the case) marathoner's commitment required of such a task — which I will address in a piecemeal manner, until I conclude with the obvious counter-observation (“Check teh interwebz, stoopid!”).

If I never watch it, will it never end?


Joel said...

I also only made it through a season and a half of Sopranos before I just got bored and stopped watching. I can't put my finger on why I got bored. (And it wasn't really a conscious decision to stop watching--I always intended to pick up the next episodes, but then I just never got around to it.)
I suspect what happened in my case was that I ruined it by binge watching it when it came out on DVD. If I had watched it at the pace the creators intended, maybe some of the suspense would have built up a little better. But watching too much of it too fast I just got bored once I felt like I had figured out what the shows main premise was.

Darrell Reimer said...

Binge-watching is the acid test of any TV series, I think. If your patience gets tried once too often, the value of the show drops to an irretrievable level. Having said that, I never felt that happen with The Sopranos, and we usually watched two episodes a night to get the season finished in a single week (so we didn't have to rent it more than once). I recall enough of the storylines that I'm still intrigued to see where they all end. But that's two seasons I'll have to devote myself to, and I still haven't spun Breaking Bad.