Fade to Black Has 'Sopranos' Fans Seeing Red

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By Lisa de Moraes
Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Since the final episode of HBO's "The Sopranos" closed with a 10-second-long simulation of a nationwide TiVo recording error, a fusillade of furiousness has broken out in the blather-osphere, the likes of which this country had not seen since . . . Friday, when the sight of a weeping, designer-dress-less, makeup-less, hair-extension-less Paris Hilton being forced out of her Hollywood Hills retreat and back to court triggered widespread Paris verbal effigy burning.

If, as one HBO exec told The Post's Tom Shales, the angrier people are about the ending to his eight-season-old mob drama the more creator David Chase will feel he's reached them, Chase must be thrilled by the response to the finale.

HBO, on the other hand, may feel otherwise, with the line being so fine between an angry HBO subscription-paying "Sopranos" fan and an angry HBO subscription-canceling "Sopranos" fan.

In case you missed the very last scene of the very last episode of "The Sopranos" Sunday night, Tony Soprano, his irritatingly suburban wife, Carmela, and his useless son, A.J., sit in a booth at Holsten's diner waiting for Tony's mob princess daughter, Meadow, who is struggling to parallel-park her vehicle. While they wait, they eat onion rings, and customers of varying degrees of shadiness come and go. Those include one especially suspicious-looking guy who heads into the men's loo, causing "Sopranos" fanatics to get the "ooh, it's 'The Godfather' all over again!" vapors.

But the guy does not emerge with a gun and blow away Tony, like Al Pacino's Michael Corleone did to corrupt cop Mark McCluskey and mobster Virgil Sollozzo in "The Godfather."

Instead, Meadow finally uses the Braille parking method favored by people from Maryland and Virginia when visiting Georgetown -- pull forward until you hit the car in front of you, then pull back until you hit the car behind you, then split the difference -- and runs inside to join her family.

But then the TV screen abruptly goes black and completely silent for 11 excruciating seconds, during which millions of viewers frantically search for their cable- or satellite-provider customer-service number to register their outrage over an outage during the most important scene in the most important series in the history of TV. Then, the end credits start to run, letting viewers know their cable or satellite did not go out -- it was just Chase's way of thanking them for their nearly 10-year investment in his show. THE END.

According to Yahoo.com rep Carolyn Clark, Yahoo searches on "Sopranos sucked," "Sopranos finale sucked" and "Sopranos ending sucked" pretty much sum up the feeling of many viewers who felt they deserved an actual, um, ending, which, of course, is one of the trappings of the television medium Chase so deplores. Clark didn't have exact numbers but said the quantity of searches had to have been "significant" to register on the Yahoo buzz-o-meter. "The fact there are more searches [on "Sopranos"] than on Paris Hilton today is very significant," she told The TV Column.

So many angry "Sopranos" fans tried to register their complaints on HBO's Web site, the channel shut it down temporarily Sunday night.

Then fans stormed other sites.

A bunch, who were way mad at the way Chase had messed with them in the finale, started messing with his Wikipedia entry, adding lines such as: "[Chase] gained mainstream recognition for creating and then destroying the HBO series 'The Sopranos' which is currently being debated as the worst ending to an American Television series in history."

Finally, the brain trust at Wikipedia locked the page from further "editing" until June 18, citing "vandalism."

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© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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