11 April 2007

Don't All Monopoly Games End That Way?

***Sopranos Spoilers Ahead***

You've been warned.

Turn away if you haven't seen Season Seven's premiere.

Many have praised the total awesomeness that was this past Sunday's Sopranos episode. It was all that, and more.

The acting was topnotch, the writing intricate, the direction perfect, and the events built logically from one moment to the next.

It was as perfect as performed drama, in any medium, gets.

However, it wasn't all that entertaining.

That may sound contradictory, but it's not. As a chapter in a whole, it was perfect. As a standalone episode, it would be awful, boring, and inexplicable. The weight of the histories of each character is required to understand each nuance within the episode. This program either doesn't underestimate it's viewers, the Sopranos doesn't assume people won't remember events from a few seasons ago, or won't connect the dots without a visit from "Basil Exposition", that's refreshing, but requires close viewing and a good memory to fully appreciate what's going on (or at least a visit to an active messageboard).

But what I really want to talk about was that game of Monopoly. Monopoly is an evil let loose on this planet by minions of Satan, or possibly Satan himself. No game of Monopoly ever ends well (in the rare instance where a game of Monopoly ends at all). The game punishes skill, rewards luck in a capricious and unfair way, and encourages cheating. It's an object lesson in how folks can convince themselves they are having fun, even while they realize that the activity they mutually engage in is beyond pointless. You might think the sucker punch thrown by Bobby had to do with the insult to his wife, but no, it was purely built from the frustration inherent in submitting oneself to the evils of Monopoly. Had Tony Soprano been thinking more clearly, he would have insisted they play a game less likely to produce a furniture smashing brawl, like say, mumblety peg (though a drunken game of that has it's own potential consequences).

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