Imagine a Sopranos without Dr. Melfi and Meadow! Wait, you don’t have to imagine: That was season 6. Okay, imagine a Sopranos without Melfi, Meadow, A.J., Paulie Walnuts, Silvio, and Bobby Bacala. You might be imagining season 7 (season 6.5?), if a salary dispute among the actors and HBO isn’t resolved. The aforementioned posse feel left out of the series’ spoils, and this is their last chance to cash in. Thus: hardball. So far, neither side seems willing to give.
Golly, this might mean beginning the eight-ep finale season-ette with awkward lines about "poor Bobby, eaten by Janice, f—in’ tragic," or "poor Paulie, turns out there was an unresolved storyline lodged in his prostate, f—in’ tragic," or "poor Silvio, turns out he was really Stevie van Zandt from the E Street band, f—in’ tragic."
Or perhaps: "Tony, you remember Cousin Coy and Cousin Vance, don’t you?"
Oh, who are we kidding? It’ll come down to the wire, a settlement will be worked out, the usual. There are too many storylines at stake. Unless, of course, HBO makes separate deals with separate players and union-busts ‘em.
Just in case this gets really ugly, we’ve drawn up a storyline that ought to resolve HBO’s problem.
EXT. NEW JERSEY
Melfi, Meadow, A.J., Paulie Walnuts, Silvio, and Bobby Bacala all go into a store. Pan up to name of store: DYNAMITE STORE
CLERK: Hey, you there! Yeah, you, the Italian stereotype! There’s no smoking in he—
[Note: HBO, if you want to use this, just gimme a call, I'll tighten up the dialogue a bit, and we're golden.]
But this all raises the question: Which of the above characters could you live without?