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New Escapist Column! On The Lingering Ambiguity of “The Sopranos”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the rapidly approaching premiere of The Many Saints of Newark, it seemed like as good a time as any to take a look back to The Sopranos.

The Sopranos remains a towering accomplishment in modern television. It is a show that ushered in what has been described as “the Golden Age of Television.” It is a show that has endured, recruiting new fans in the years since it went off the air. It is a show that is still hotly contested and debated, with fans still arguing over what particular scenes or episodes mean. This is particularly true of the show’s famous ending scene, but the truth is that The Sopranos was always deliberately ambiguous, trusting its audience to reach their own conclusions about these characters and how they operate.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

Doctor Who: The Woman Who Lived (Review)

Can’t we share? Isn’t that what robbery is all about?

– the Doctor on redistribution of wealth

The Woman Who Lived adopts the same structure as The Girl Who Died, basically grafting a fairly generic alien invasion narrative on to a more character-driven story. It is an approach that worked very well for Jamie Mathieson and Steven Moffat, but it admittedly works a little less smoothly this time around.

The Girl Who Died had the luxury of some very generic antagonists posing a very generic threat to a very generic village populated (for the most part) with fairly generic characters. Against this backdrop, there was room to develop not only the character of Ashidlr, but also to flesh out the perspective of the Twelfth Doctor and Clara. The stakes weren’t particularly high in the context of Doctor Who, and the resolution was decidedly goofy. But that was the thrill.

Okay, now Peter Capaldi is just showing off...

Okay, now Peter Capaldi is just showing off…

The Woman Who Lived is decidedly heavier in tone and content. This is not to suggest that the alien threat at the heart of the episode is any more substantial or nuanced. There is an alien emissary plotting to open a dimensional portal so that his buddies can harvest the Earth for their own sinister purpose. This is, if anything, even more generic than the Mire’s plot to harvest testosterone. The problem is that the script clutters everything up, adding betrayals and macguffins and mythos that add little of value.

It is not as if the convolutions of the generic alien invasion plot exist to balance a lighter character-driven story. If anything, the meat of Ashidlr’s character arc is to be found in The Woman Who Lived, as she learns to cope with the mixed blessing of immortality. The Woman Who Lived certainly gives Maisie Williams more to do. So The Woman Who Lived has a lot more going on than The Girl Who Died, which is not necessarily a good thing.

Candle in the wind...

Candle in the wind…

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Green Lantern 101: A Beginner’s Guide to The Green Lantern Mythos…

The trailer for Green Lantern arrived yesterday. I’m already excited about the release. However, I acknowledge that Hal Jordan isn’t quite the household name that Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent is. So I put together this collection of frequently asked questions about Green Lantern, which will hopefully give you a bit of an introduction to the character. If this proves popular, I might do the same for Thor or Captain America, the other major comic book releases of next year. Check out the trailer below.

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