it reminds you that there is plenty of room for art in television drama. it harkens back to a more simpler time when Twin Peaks was throwing curveball after curveball at the viewer tripping us out with backwards talking midgets and whispering homecoming queens.
dreams are the lies that our minds tell us at our most vulnerable, and for a show that is set around the discussions between a shrink and the head of a mob family dreams mean much much more.
last night the sopranos spun us so far into a dream sequence that at one point we didnt know if it was an entire dream episode and even though it could have been an incredibly amazing alice-in-wonderland of psychedelia and psycho-self-awarness through one of the most compelling tv characters, tony soprano, it fell flat and was neither hallucinatory or important to the plot.
it seemed like a lazy way to fill an hour during a week when the writers didnt know how to move the story along.
it was a waste of terrific artistic device: the dream as truth serum.
it was a waste of momentum that the sopranos have had over the last few episodes.
and it a waste of a great opportunity to get meadow and christopher’s fiance into a bikini.
and yet still it was the most interesting programming on television last week next to the spurs+lakers game on thursday when derek fisher changed the destinies of karl malone and gary payton with :004 left on the clock.
the college of creative studies at ucsb, where i attended college, was pretty unified against dream sequences in stories. they considered it too easy for the writer and too cheap against the reader. in a dream you never know whats true for the character and whats bullshit. they could have put tony soprano in a dress last night in his dream and it could have meant 1,000 things, none of which would have been true.
the arguement in creative studies is, if youre going to make your character reveal something in a dream, let them reveal it while awake and the consequences are much more interesting, and the effect will be more powerful.
for example, in last night’s dream episode, tony soprano recalls a former love who is no longer with us. he dreams that she is now his shrink and they have a discussion. my former teachers would have asked, “why don’t you just have his shrink role-play with tony? have him pretend that dr. mulfrey is his deceased ex-love-interest and have them talk to each other using the same lines in the dream sequence. this way conscious tony soprano is more than just a bright-eyed open-mouthed doe freaking out at the craziness happening around him and instead has the ability to break down and cry or say things to the now-dead woman that he didnt have a chance to say to her.”
instead, as jeff jarvis pointed out, there is no satisfying payoff. the plot development has been stymied with watered-down shadowplay and the audience is left scratching their heads and possibly dissapointed on an otherwise lovely sunday evening in the springtime.
no more dream sequences, sopranos, unless it involves talking fish, crossdressing mafia-men, or pole dancing from the protagonist’s mother daughter and wife at the bada-bing.