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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Goodbye, Feech, 15 May 2008
Author: Max_cinefilo89 from Italy
After being mentioned briefly in Season 3, Feech La Manna (Robert
Loggia) was introduced in the Season Five premiere, and proved himself
a worthy presence on the show. Unfortunately, his stay wasn't very
long, in fact All Happy Families features Loggia's last appearance in
the series. According to David Chase, his departure had to do with
memory problems (the actor was past his seventies), an ironic fact
given the previous episode dealt with the possibility of Uncle Junior
having Alzheimer's. Nonetheless, Loggia's four-episode guest spot
remains one of the highlights of the show's great history, and his exit
is every bit as good as his entrance.
The need to take Loggia off the series is narratively transformed into Tony's need to get rid of Feech, whose attempts to get his old power back is causing more trouble than anything, and with Christopher's help the nuisance is dealt with rather painlessly. Meanwhile, the war that's raging between Little Carmine and Johnny Sack gets uglier with the killing of the former's loan-shark, and on the private front AJ's mediocre grades lead to Carmela having a sit-down, and perhaps something else, with the school counselor, Robert Wegler (David Strathairn).
Aside from Loggia leaving the series, the most notable achievement of this episode is Strathairn's riveting performance: best known in mainstream cinema for playing unpleasant fellas, such as Kathy Bates' abusive husband in Dolores Claiborne or, most famously, Kim Basinger's vicious pimp in the extraordinary L.A. Confidential, he joins TV's best crime drama playing a nice guy, albeit with a few characterial flaws, and gives a humane portrayal justly remembered by Empire magazine as one of the show's five best guest spots (the other four, in case you're wondering, are Robert Patrick, Jon Favreau, Ben KIngsley and the already mentioned Loggia). His story arc allows the writers to move away a little from the gangster universe, which is always refreshing, and also sheds new light on the personality of Mrs. Soprano, a quite different woman since she dumped Tony.
The title may be highly ironic (no one's really happy in the episode), but hey, at least the viewers are satisfied. And for those lamenting the disappearance of a superb recurring presence, consider this: his replacement is just as marvelous.
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