We don't so much watch television anymore as we live it. We schedule time for our shows, read blogs featuring them, discuss articles written about them and spend countless water cooler minutes discussing them.
To coin a phrase, we live, eat and breathe our programs, especially the best ones. This makes one of the theories concerning the end of HBO's epic series "The Sopranos" so perfect. Sunday's series finale, the 86th episode of a run that covered eight seasons over 10 years, ended with an out-of-nowhere fade to black.
It was such a quick cut, so unexpected, that many viewers thought their cable had cut out. It was an odd, discombobulating ending, which, if you believe some show theorists, was designed to give the effect of being "whacked."
But it wasn't mob boss Tony Soprano who met his demise, but the viewers. In that split second, the series, its stories and its characters were taken away from us, giving us a brief feeling of being "whacked."
It's a brilliant theory, one that's difficult to refute but just as difficult to prove considering creator David Chase's do-it-yourself ending. It's one I wouldn't have come up with on my own, seeing as how I'm a guy who laughs at every joke about flatulence on "Two and a Half Men."
But "The Sopranos" isn't like that or any of the other sitcoms I watch as a way to laugh and relax my brain. It makes you think. And judging by page after page on HBO's blog dedicated to the show, it also makes you write.
If you go to hbo.com/sopranos/community you'll see what I mean. Like any message board, there's plenty of complaining - lots of people didn't care for Chase leaving the ending up in the air - and arguing - does Tony live or die after the fade to black? All of this makes for good, and sometimes informative, reading if you're a big fan of the show.
It doesn't take long reading the posts to be reminded that folks like their entertainment literal and spoon fed. Don't give me anything that takes too long to digest. Just hurry up, hit puree and pour it down my throat.
But the thought-provoking posts more than make up for those people, and the discussion on the message boards adds to the experience of watching a show as multi-layered as "The Sopranos." Although it is ironic that these days I spend more time reading about television programs than watching them.
Though the finale of "The Sopranos" left plenty of questions, I'm fine with being able to fill in some of the blanks the way I want. But when it comes to TV, there is one question that bothers me a lot: Why can't "According to Jim" find out what it's like to be "whacked"?
E-mail Todd Cline at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Tuesdays.
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