Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Sopranos #02: 46 Long - unseen sequences

The script for each episode of The Sopranos goes through many drafts and revisions before it is filmed. Even when an episode has been shot, scenes may still be shortened or cut completely in the editing process for reasons of pacing or length. Normally this material remains on the cutting room floor, unseen and unknown. However, scripts from films and television shows are becoming increasingly available to a curious public. What follows is an analysis of the second episode's lost scenes.

The script for The Sopranos #02, ’46 Long’, was purchased from a London store that specialises in entertainment media merchandise. Written by series creator David Chase, the script is labelled as the fourth revision, dated June 19, 1998. It notes that the production draft was completed on May 28, 1999, with further revisions on June 11, 15 and 17. The cast list matches that of the broadcast episode, but it notes that Giacomo ‘Jackie’ Aprile was formerly called Pat Aprile. The name Pat also survives in one of the scene descriptions.

Structurally, the script is very similar to the final version screened by HBO in January, 1999. The running order of scenes only differs in a few places. The dialogue is almost a word for word transcription of what was broadcast. However, most scenes were trimmed either at their beginnings or ends in the final show – a process known as topping and tailing. Two scenes were dropped and several were severely truncated.

’46 Long’ begins with Tony and his crew watching TV in the back room at the Bada Bing. In the script it specifies that they watch the popular US talk show Larry King. In the broadcast version, Larry and his show were substituted for a generic talk show and host. Perhaps Larry was unavailable or too expensive. In the script Silvio’s Al Pacino imitation misquotes The Godfather.

Some intriguing dialogue appears in the scripted scene where Tony comes down to breakfast and hears about the teacher’s car being stolen. Tony is unconcerned – he says the insurance company will pay out because the teacher is white. Carmela says Mr Miller’s wife just had twins. She asks Tony to intervene and says the teacher was so nice to AJ when the boy missed a lot of school because of sickness.

The next unseen material appears in the script when Tony calls his mother as she is cooking mushrooms. ‘Always with the mushrooms,’ Tony says to himself. While he waits for her to come back to the phone, Tony berates Christopher for bitching about not being made yet. He says Christopher will not rise up in the world by hanging around with people like Brendan Filone.

When Carmela invites her mother-in-law to live with the rest of the family, the draft version foreshadows a development for much later in Season One. Livia says it’s a very nice offer, but she isn’t an Alzheimer’s case yet. By the end of this season, Livia will be showing Alzheimer’s-like signs of senility.

During Tony’s first session with Dr Melfi, the script has him revealing more about his siblings. He says he has one sister living at an ashram in California, while the other is called Annette and lives in upstate New York husband and four kids. Annette would be renamed Barbara in future episodes. Tony asks for Dr Melfi’s diagnosis of his mother’s condition. The therapist reluctantly suggests Livia is dystymic – incapable of experience joy.

In the draft script, Tony cites two examples of loving, warm experience from his childhood, rather than just the one broadcast. He remembers at age twelve buying his mother the album ‘Smoke On The Water’ when it was obviously a gift for himself. Tony says Livia didn’t get that pissed at all. Melfi presses him for examples of emotional nourishment or support by his mother. Tony replies that old guineas like his mother are not demonstrative.

In the scene where Tony and Junior have a sit-down with Jackie about the raid on Comley Trucking, Tony suggests in the draft script that Junior watch Gone With The Wind on DVD. In the broadcast episode his suggestion is much funnier – Grumpy Old Men. The script has the meeting being watched by two Feds in a surveillance van parked opposite the pork store.

When Tony leaves the meeting he raps on the side of the unmarked vehicle and suggests the Feds are having a mutual masturbation session inside. ‘I saw the van rocking, guys. You having a taffy-pull in there?’ All of this was either never filmed or was cut from the final version. The Feds don’t appear on screen until the funeral scene at the end of #04, ‘Meadowlands’.

When Tony is chastising Christopher and Brendan for not paying their tribute to Junior, the draft script has some heavy-handed dialogue recapping what happened in the first episode. Tony says he has not talked to Jackie about Christopher getting made, because Jackie still remembers the wannabe mobster clipped a guy without permission. ‘The proof is in the pudding’ Christopher replies. Brendan pisses Tony off by joking about Jackie’s illness. In the script Brendan talks about Jackie adopting the waif look. In the broadcast episode, he talks about Jackie becoming the chemo-sabe – a much subtler reference to the effects of cancer treatment.

An entire scene between Livia and her temporary carer Perrilyn appears in the draft script which never made it to broadcast. The pair are finishing lunch and carrying their dishes to the kitchen. Perrilyn tells an anecdote about her grandson which actually brings a small smile to Livia’s lips. Perrilyn washes dishes and Livia dries. The carer suggests they could go for a walk around three o’clock and accidentally calls her Olivia.

That was the name of Perrilyn’s sister, who died as a baby. Livia agrees that some fresh air would be nice. The old woman stops and chooses exactly what she wants to say to Perrilyn. The dialogue does not appear in the script, but the reader infers it must be something very offensive. The draft script cuts to the next scene, when Carmela arrives just as Perrilyn storms out of the house. This is where the broadcast version resumes.

Tony has another session with Dr Melfi after Livia runs down Fanny. In the draft script he says the doctors are being to test Livia for infarc dementia, but no mention of this was made in the final version. Instead Livia would not be tested for dementia until after the attempted hit on Tony. Dr Melfi talks with Tony about depression. In the script, she describes it as anger not acted out and says depression is very common in the elderly. On screen, the scene ends with Melfi talking about senior who are inspired and inspiring.

In the draft script, the scene continues as the session comes to an end. Tony says he received Dr Melfi’s bill in the mail. He pulls out a wad of cash that could choke a horse and starts dropping hundred dollar bills on her desk, which makes the therapist uneasy. She asks if Tony is on a health plan where he could post the money. The monster replies he is covered by the plumbers’ union, but he doesn’t want to submit psychiatrist’s bills. He says cash is better for her anyway and leaves. Dr Melfi gives a false smile and close the door after him.

The scene where Christopher, Adriana, Brendan and his girlfriend stand outside the nightclub runs much longer in the draft script. After Martin Scorcese has gone into the club, Christopher and Brendan get into an argument with the bouncer. Brendan tries to frighten the bouncer by invoking the name of the Sopranos, without success. Brendan starts getting a weapon out of his pocket to attack the bouncer, but is interrupted by his beeper going off.

Once they get inside the club, Christopher and Brendan talk about Junior’s tribute. Brendan shows a poor grasp of the English language in a line which didn’t make it on screen: ‘He’s throwing down the gimlet!’ Brendan probably means gauntlet, since a gimlet is a small boring tool for penetrating wood. Christopher wonders whether the old greats like Charlie Lucky and Neil Dellacrocce felt like this when they were just starting out. Brendan gets almost philosophical in another line cut from this scene. He has heard they are the first generation of Americans who are not going to do as well as their parents.

A classic line of Livia dialogue was lost from the scene where she tries to give her son a vibrating chair. Tony tries to reassure his mother, saying she’s not ready to die. Livia is unimpressed: ‘Listen to him. God speaks right to him.’

There’s a funny sequence involving AJ, which didn’t make it into the final episode. Tony and Carmela have returned from installing Livia at Green Grove. Tony is making lunch when AJ enters from the back of the house carrying a large can of charcoal lighter, some highway flares and a box of wooden matches. Carmela demands to know what he is doing with this highly combustible combination. AJ explains that it is his science project, a volcano. Carmela bans the boy from lighting any fires in the house. Tony offers to cut up some shotgun shells so he and AJ can use the gunpowder from inside. Carmela hands Tony a greeting card from the post. It shows a sad basset hound with the words ‘Missing You’ printed above it. The card is signed from ‘Your friends in the 3rd Federal Judicial District’. Tony smirks.

Last but not least, the draft script has an extended sequence which gives the episode its name. After Tony orders Christopher and Brendan to take the Italian suits back to Comley Trucking, he selects a beautiful blue pinstripe suit for himself. It’s 46 long – his size. Paulie points out that Tony already has a suit exactly like it. Tony notices Pussy admiring the suit, so he finds a pair of metal shears and cut the arms off the suit so it is ruined. Only he gets to wear a beautiful blue pinstripe Brioni suit.

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