I bade farewell to a close friend last week when E4 broadcast the final episode of The Sopranos. For eight years I have revelled in the sheer genius of this programme. The writing, storyline and characterisation were second to none. I think it would be safe to say it was the greatest TV show ever made: uncompromisingly intelligent and superbly acted, it rarely dipped in quality over the length of its 86 episodes.
For the benefit of anybody reading who is a fan of the show but has yet to see it through to its conclusion, I will not go into detail about the much-talked-about ending. Suffice it to say, it wasn’t how I ever imagined the show to finish at all. However, having re-watched it and mulled it over, I’ve come round to the idea that this was in fact the best way to do it. Hats off to David Chase.
I will miss the show enormously. A friend has lent me season one of The Wire, which, by many accounts, is reasoned to be even better. We’ll have to see about that, but if it is, then I’ll be a happy man.
There is still a notion prevalent in this country that we make the best television in the world. Pure self-delusion of course. For sure, American TV produces an awful lot of old toss but when it comes to world beating shows, it’s still the benchmark of quality. British television simply is not capable of creating blockbusters as captivating as The Sopranos, The West Wing, Lost or 24. I have yet to see Deadwood, Heroes or the aforementioned The Wire, but I expect they can all be added to this list. From what I hear, even the reimagined Battlestar Galactica is well worth watching. And we have never produced a show of any description that can hold a candle to The Simpsons. What’s been our most celebrated production in the last couple of years? Doctor Who. Camp time travel antics with laughable special effects? Fuck that, give me quality US imports any day.