The Mark Hastings Experience – Episode #11: “Supernatural”

My Poem “Tony Soprano”

There has never been a TV show since,
and there may never be a TV show
again,
like the hit show ‘The Sopranos’ –
and there will never be another
character like Tony Soprano:
the Mob Boss of North New Jersey,
who in my opinion was the first
anti-hero on TV who was so complex,
so intriguing, and so compelling
that nobody who watched him
could help themselves from
rooting for him, no matter what
he did and no matter what he said.

Tony Soprano woke up every morning,
he walked down his driveway
to retrieve his copy of the daily newspaper,
and then after that there was
no telling what he was going to next;
but one thing was always clear:
whatever Tony did he did for his family –
both his blood family
as well as for his crime family,
and everything that he did
was all to keep the Soprano family
and the thing of theirs
that was their life going
by any means necessary.

In my opinion, no one could have
played Tony Soprano
like James Gandolfini did –
because Tony Soprano was
someone who was smart;
Tony Soprano was someone
who internalised and wrestled
with a lot of psychological trauma
because of his mother, Livia,
and because his father Johnny Soprano
had been a gangster before Tony
was even born
there was no question that he would also
become a member of the family business;
but Tony Soprano was not like
everybody else in his family:
he suffered panic attacks –
and because he loved his family
so much he sought out the help
of a therapist, Dr. Jennifer Melfi,
in order to be a more effective
father and boss to those who followed his lead.

You don’t get to meet too many characters like Tony Soprano,
nor from episode to episode
watch someone like him
do what only someone like him
could do…
you don’t get to see acting of the
calibre that James Gandolfini had that often –
and it is clear as day that he put
every ounce of his talent into
making Tony the engaging, the profound,
and the powerhouse of a character that he was;
which is why viewers did not
want to see what they ultimately saw
at the end,
when the screen suddenly went to black –
because nobody knew that only moments before
they had just taken one last look
at one of the greatest characters
in television history:
the one and the only Tony Soprano.

My Poem “Hello Friend!”

It’s always great
making new friends…
when we watch certain characters
on television or in films
we often quickly become drawn
to a particular protagonist
that we, for one reason
or another, can identify with.

It’s always good to explore
new things – films, music,
books, places, stories –
and it is always fascinating
to witness how a particular
journey can change a person
in so many different ways.

Whenever we all watch
certain characters in movies,
or on television,
and we see them having to overcome
all obstacles that they have to contend with,
and face all the adversaries
that they have to face,
while walking the path that is their fate,
it can be such a thrilling
and an exhilarating experience
that certain people often choose
to return to those same stories,
and to those same characters,
time and time again.

When we become engrossed
in a particular story,
and when we become invested
in a particular cast of characters,
we never want what we and they
have been through to come to an end;
however, most audience members know
that endings are just as fundamental
to a story as beginnings,
and as long as when a story
comes to a close it is satisfying –
and it is revealed that everything
that happened was all for something –
then, in some way, people can cope
with the ultimate moment
of finality without regret.

When we have to say goodbye to someone –
even if it is only a well-loved character
who we see performing on a flat-screen –
even the most detached of watchers
can become so connected
to whom they have been watching,
especially if the storyline
that is coming to a conclusion
has been a compelling
and riveting one to behold;
and that is why, when
some people reach the end of a story,
they automatically go back
to the very beginning of
the same story that they have been
watching, reading, or perhaps
listening to, for so long,
and they start the journey all over again
in an attempt to recapture the magic somehow,
by greeting the same characters
that they are already greatly familiar with,
with a smile, and with a warm:
“Hello friend!”

My Poem “Run Jesse, run!”

It is the hallmark of a great film,
a great television show,
a great play, a great writer,
a great cast, a great production staff,
a great actor portraying
a great and complex protagonist,
who by the great gift of their craft
is able to make us –
the viewer, the audience –
care for them, accept them,
and become emotional invested and involved
in the story and in the journey
of the characters that we follow
from the second that we first see them
all the way to the last moments
of the last chapter and finale
that will ultimately – hopefully –
deliver a satisfying conclusion
that makes the journey that you
have taken with these familiar
characters worth all the time,
all the energy, and all the thought
that you committed to them
over the hours, the days,
the months, perhaps even the years
that it has taken to reach the end credits.

It can sometimes be hard to find
an ending that ticks all the boxes,
that answers all the questions,
that wraps up all the dangling threads
that remain to be addressed
and given a reason for why
they were not connected to the
greater narrative that underpins
everything that is a part
of the ultimate story being told…
in any given story it is always
out of the hands of the writer
and the author which part of an ongoing
story people will respond to and why –
sometimes it is the simplest
and the smallest of plot points
that resonate the most
and which over time become
what people remember the most,
as if what they saw shined like gold.

It is always a test for an audience
when an author creates
a character and they put them
through things that push them to their limits
and they change them in ways
that are hard to watch,
and it can sometimes be hard for people
to continue to empathize with
a certain character when they
start to behave in morally
questionable ways of being…
quite frequently, in some of the best
stories ever told, an audience gets
to watch the evolution of
a protagonist into an antagonist,
the hunter into the hunted,
the wronged into the redeemed –
and vice versa –
and the once imprisoned against
their will make their getaway
and run for the hills and away
from all that they are leaving behind –
like the character of Jesse Pinkman
driving like a bat out of hell
in his black and red ‘El Camino’
away from his past and towards
a future that not even he knows.

“The average person looking at someone doing evil or wrong wants the person to get away with it. I think it’s the most amazing instinct. The audience can’t bear the suspense of the person being discovered. “Hurry up! Quick! You’re going to be caught!” – Alfred Hitchcock

My Poem “The Eighties”

I grew up in the 1980s…
I grew up in the decade when
the world was blessed with the best
and with the most memorable days of their lives…
when I think of the 1980s and the time of my childhood,
I look back with awe and with a nostalgic longing
to return to those days –
even if only for a short time…
I can still remember living, breathing, growing,
and enjoying every one of the gifts of humanity
that were ever-present and essential…
I, like many, still vividly remember what I saw,
what I heard, and what I felt when I was a child –
what I was fortunate to have seen, heard, and felt
for the first time, at the moment that
their star of influence began to rise
and instantly started to impact
and change the world forevermore…
television, movies, music, games, books –
the characters, the vehicles, the fashions,
the songs and the soundtracks
that continue to stand the test of time –
that to this day are still re-watched,
replayed, rediscovered, and renewed
for a brand new generation…
to me, there is nothing like nostalgia…
to me, there is nothing like revisting
the precious memories of your youth…
there is something about certain times
in our collective history that resonates
with some people on an emotional
and on an almost cellular level…
there is something special about remembering
the things we used to watch,
the things we used to listen to,
and in the ways that we used to enjoy them…
there is something wonderful, heart-racing,
exhilarating, and magical about using
our imagination as a vehicle to go back in time,
like the Delorean time-machine
from the Back to the Future movies,
and in a small way reliving decades-old memories –
and even though I am now in my thirties
and my childhood now feels like a life-time ago,
I still love thinking back, I still loving watching back,
and I still love using the songs that I remember from my youth
to take me back and give me a rush of euphoric recollection,
like the feeling of returning home:
the same overwhelming sense of belonging and joy
that I ways feel when I think back to the 1980s.