06/13/2007 04:55 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Sic Transit Tony

This just in ... Tony is dead... Film at 11...

Of course, you realized all along that Tony Soprano was dead.

That final scene, clearly, was all through Tony's eyes. He sees everyone coming through the door of Holsten's. He sees the heavy hitter walking towards him, and he looks up from the menu where he is selecting his last supper -- and the screen goes to black.

What, you still don't believe it? You waiting for the medical examiner's report and the coroner 's probable cause of death?

The basic idea, as I get this scenario, is that's what happens when you get shot in the head. You go to black. I don't know this for a fact, but medically speaking it sounds credible.

You have to hand it to David Chase. He managed to drive Paris Hilton off the front pages and screens, if briefly, something Iraq or immigration couldn't do. Gresham's law of celebrity journalism was invoked.

He also deserves credit for not wanting to show us Tony dying. By going to black, he was taking him out through a virtual back door, behind the dumpster.

And while he was at it, he figured he might add to his luster impressing the other auteurs in television drama. How clever can you get?

He knew how adverse we "Soprano" fans are to seeing violence on the screen.

It was bad enough seeing -or at least visualizing--Phil's brains splattered on that gas station floor when the car ran over his head. It also was to his credit that he didn't have the SUV exploding with the twins strapped in their safety seats.

And finally he didn't want to mess up Holsten's Brookdale Confectionery with all that blood and brain matter.

One also has to compliment Chase for not excessively moralizing at the end. He didn't flog a dead horse with speeches about how only the good die young, or whatever the point of the series was.

No, for Tony, a black screen was a decent way to go.

Like the millions of other Sopranoolics, I was on life support Sunday night waiting for the end.

With all due respect, nevertheless, I thought the finale stunk. Maybe it was because I ate the whole calzone at midnight the night before.

Still it wasn't as bad as all those talking fishes in the finale of the fourth season. That was so artsy-fartsy. It actually felt like David Lynch was directing that episode with all the weird dream sequences, odd camera angles, Chase's homage to Lynch's silly "Twin Peaks" second season curtain.

The finale to Chase's fifth season wasn't up to Beethoven's Fifth, either.

It at the risk of boiling olive oil being thrown down on me from the parapets by enraged "Sopranos" fans, it was about time Tony died.

In Euripides' opinion, every story should have a beginning, middle and end. In TV, there is also the tease.

Actually, "The Sopranos" story ended with the third season finale. Since then it's been all tease. Chase and his team of geniuses-in-residence were vamping until they figured out where to go with it.

With all due respect, the show turned into a whackodrama. I always felt it was like attending a funeral, waiting to see who has gone south with the geese, as Paulie, the wordsmith, once put it.

With all due respect, the show developed an aimless quality. Instead of being like the early "24," tightly plotted, every piece of story riveted to the main body, it became more of old "Dynasty," where they seemed to shoot scenes at random and paste them together, hoping it all added up to something, they knew not what.

Look, it wasn't easy writing for "The Sopranos." Who was left to kill? They were down to the second and third team scrubs by this year. It raised the metaphysical question how many mob hits can the human body take? Chase lost me 40% of the way through the eight years. Nobody could really replace Big Pussy, who swims with the fishes, and Richie Aprile and Ralphie.

Dr. Melfi's treatment of Tony S. will live in the annals of mental health with Dr. Freud's Case of Anna O., the most fascinating since the Case of Ethel M., the chocoholic. But it was in danger of being analysis interminable.

With all due respect, I didn't believe in "The Sopranos" story anymore. It had become an exercise in making more money for all involved than making a work of TV art.

A question I am often asked as a man who wrote 13 columns about "The Sopranos" was: would David Chase continued doing the show -- that is, if Tony hadn't died?

Are you kidding? Does a bear defecate in the woods?

There is an ancient Roman saying for what a great artist likes Chase did with the once terrific "Sopranos:" Take the money -- and stay." Every time the contract ran out, he threatened to quit and somehow miraculously was talked out of it by HBO when he read the writing on the wall: $$$$$$$$

Frankly, I was worried he'd sign another contract. Then we could expect the FBI to finally move on Tone. By season 9, there would be a mistrial because the judge died of old age.

By season 13, he would be under house arrest. By the 16th season, he would be acting a little squirrelly like Uncle Jun.

While T and his lawyers were in the thrall of the creaking justice system, the family would be taken over by Meadow, after finally graduating from auto drivers school (where she majored in parallel parking) and becoming the first mob bossette.

By the end of the 23rd season, we wouldn't care what happened. As Pres. Bush said about history -- the first year after his election , which deserves to be added to a collection of great sayings by chief executives, up there with Don Corleone's "This is the life we have chosen": "What does it matter? We'll all be dead."

What's left? Well, there is the HBO special covering the burial of Tony Soprano at Giant Stadium, paying homage to Jimmy Hoffa, who everybody knows is buried under the 50-yard line. The whole Meadowlands area you see in the opening credits is like an Arlington National Cemetery for the soldiers who have died in the Sanitation Wars and other turf battles.

I will miss T. What a suave dude he was in his bathrobe getting the paper every morning, as if stepping out of the pages of Gentleman's Quarterly, New Jersey edition. Ciao, baby.