David Chase's much-loved, much-debated and much-acclaimed series The Sopranos concluded on Sunday night as HBO broadcast the final episode. I'm not going to spoil the ending, or talk about who died or who didn't. You can find that kind of material elsewhere if you want, and the final batch of episodes won't be screened in the UK for weeks, months or even years yet, depending upon whether you have digital, satellite, cable or plain old terrestrial TV. [Our shiny new telly's gone bung, so we don't even have that at the moment.]
I wrote a book about The Sopranos in 2001 - an unofficial, unauthorised programme guide, published by Virgin. It didn't sell enough for me to make royalties, but the project gave The Sopranos a special place in my affections. I loved the series before writing the book [you've got to be mad to write tens of thousands of words about a TV show you hate], but if you watch enough of any TV show, it will worm a way into your affections forever.
After the book was published, each new series of The Sopranos seemed to take longer to reach the small screen. Creator David Chase took his time, refusing to adhere to network-led schedules. New episodes of The Sopranos would be ready when they were ready, and HBO was savvy enough to acknowledge that. The show's success transformed the channel and its departure will leave a big, big hole. Having written a book about the show, I got burnt out on The Sopranos. But a year or two back I rediscovered my enthusiasm for it and caught up on all I'd missed, thanks to the wonders of DVD.
Now the series is over. Finished. History. The ending is typical David Chase: bold, uncompromising and utterly in keeping with all that's gone before. He even manages to work in a few sly references to The Godfather, while giving an unlikely prominence to power balladeers Journey and their song Don't Stop Believin'. Nailing the dismount for much-loved shows like The Sopranos or Life on Mars is tough. The audience has so many expectations, and such an emotional investment in the characters and concepts. I think Chase's finale is a masterpiece. Your mileage may vary.