Today's Blogs

Pass the Onion Rings

Bloggers scrutinize the end of TheSopranos (spoiler alert) and wonder what a “post-occupation” force in Iraq would actually entail.

Pass the Onion Rings: Bloggers are either outraged with or satisfied by the much-anticipated conclusion to The Sopranossix-season run. One headline said the show ended in a “crescendo of nothing.”

Some bloggers were incensed. “The line to cancel HBO starts here. What a ridiculously disappointing end lacking in creativity to The Sopranos saga,” snarls the LA Weekly’s Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood Daily. “The show we all loved deserved a decent burial. Instead, it went into a black hole. … The Sopranos was not a show that went on inside your head. It was a richly visual series whose most memorable moments were graphic and in your face and damn proud of it. Like Tony, it was defiant. This was whimpering.”

The non-ending irritated Mary McNamara at the Los Angeles Times’Show Tracker: “In what may be the first case of finalus interruptus, David Chase, faced with deciding between a bang and a whimper, chose neither. Instead the creator of ‘The Sopranos’ decided to fool millions of Americans into believing their cable had gone out. … Chase is possibly the only man in America who could get away with such a thing, and maybe he shouldn’t.” At Zigzigger, media studies professor Michael Z. Newman is among the let down, writing it was “[a]n end but hardly an ending. Not artful but arty, and totally unlike the classic novels to which snooty critics would so often compare the show. The show’s comedy is typically darker than black, but now it’s at our expense.”

“Well, you can forget the ‘Will Tony Survive?’ question,” writes Dyland Stableford at Fishbowl NY, irked by the show’s DIY ending. “David Chase and co. over at HBO decided to leave its fans and eight years of makeshift Italian Sunday dinners on the edge of an overwrought, overused classic rock cliché (Journey sang ‘Don’t Stop Believin”) — an ending that you had to write.” The New York-based venture capitalist at A VC also has a beef with the ending’s soundtrack. “In addition to everything else that made the Sopranos great, the music was always so right. But they ended it with Journey???? My all time least favorite rock band. Ugh. … The New York Times says the choice of Journey was a ‘cruel joke’ on the viewers along with the way they ended it. OK. Cruelty I can take. Bad taste from someone with impeccable taste I cannot.”

“[W]hat the hell did people expect from David Chase? Closure? Satisfaction? Answers? A moral?” asks TV critic Matt Zoller Seitz at TheHouse Next Door. “It was the perfect ending. No ending at all. Write your own goddamn ending. … No gangster story has ever ended like this. The lack of resolution – the absolute and deliberate failure, or more accurately, refusal, to end this thing – was exactly right. It felt more violent, more disturbing, more unfair than even the most savage murders Chase has depicted over the course of six seasons, because the victim was us. He ended the series by whacking the viewer.” Tony Pierce at LAist expected an ending of the unconventional stripe. “The Sopranos were always as much about subtlety as they were about brutality. It was always punk rock, it never followed convention, it never went down the path that we expected it to go. … The Sopranos have been a family in limbo ever since we met them, to end the series with the ten most thrilling seconds of blackness was television genius that even John Cage would have loved. Now lets hope this means there’s an afterlife to this premature departure. Amen.”

Tim Lucas at Video WatchBlog is overjoyed with David Chase’s ending. “It’s not what I expected, or what I might have wanted, but it has the ring of truth … and also the brassier ring of audacity. If the scene had run longer and shown us everything, it could have played out in one of two ways: anticlimatic, or so traumatic it would have been an even greater outrage to discontinue. On reflection, I think it was actually a very loving exit, for both the characters and the viewing audience that has followed their family saga for the past nine years.”

Read more about The Sopranos’ final episode. In Slate’s “TV Club,” Jeffrey Goldberg laughed, Timothy Noah was miffled, and NBC’s Brian Williams savored the details.

Operation Enduring Presence: Top military brass in Iraq expect the American military presence to continue there on some level for years, even after the “pullout,” the Washington Post reported Sunday. Citing “logistical realities,” the officials interviewed think a lingering U.S. presence—what the Post dubs a “post-occupation” force—would be beneficial to deter foreign invaders, combat al-Qaida, and continue training Iraqi troops and police.

 “Following WWII, American troops stayed in Germany for a half century,” writes Greg, a Texan teacher and conservative at Rhymes With Right. “We still have US troops in Japan, as well as Korea. I guess I’ve always sort of assumed that we would have a US troop presence in Iraq for the rest of my lifetime, and well beyond that. Indeed, my question is why anyone would be surprised.”

Pro-withdrawal liberal Michael J.W. Stickings agrees with the generals: “A small, rapid-response force that remains behind to deal with al Qaeda and the possibility of even worse genocide than there is now, assuming that Iraq descends further into chaos, seems to me to be the sort of military presence that would make sense in post-war Iraq.” Upon re-reading the piece, Washington-based liberal Matthew Yglesias has a revelation: “[I]t dawns on me that this plan is tragically consistent with the Democratic mantra of withdrawing ‘combat forces’ from Iraq but leaving troops for training, force protection, and counterterrorism. Bill Richardson says let’s really withdraw.”

Read more reaction to a continued U.S. presence in Iraq.