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Your Cheatin' Art

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Dramatists -- whether they write screenplays or plays or novels or, in this instance, teleplays -- have a responsibility to their audience and to their creations.

Take, for example, the final episode of the television series THE SOPRANOS. I didn't watch the whole show but I did see the ending where the family sits munching on onion rings and absolutely nothing happens.

It's just plain wrong. Viewers were cheated. The series itself was cheated. Tony Soprano, the protagonist, was cheated.

Why? Because there are certain elements to a drama that make it a drama. These elements aren't there because Aristotle or some literary theorist said they should be. These elements are there because they please the audience -- the listeners, the viewers, the readers -- and have pleased us for thousands of years. Drama is created for us, and when it fails to satisfy us, it fails, period.

So what satisfies us?

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