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‘Sopranos’ guru seeks bookends

Chase won for pilot, nominated for finale

David Chase directed two episodes of “The Sopranos,” the pilot and finale. Quite a nice pair of bookends, indeed.

Dabbling as a helmer for more than 20 years — he began with an episode of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” in 1986 — Chase has directed only five hours of episodic television and a two-hour “Rockford Files” TV movie.

Having won the DGA Award for the “Sopranos” pilot in 2000 and now being nominated for the finale, that’s quite an impressive batting average.

The last episode, of course, was the TV watercooler moment of the year, when Tony Soprano enters the diner with Carmela and A.J. Soon after, Meadow sits down, and they all munch a few onion rings. And then the screen goes black.

Much was made about Chase’s script, with his cliff-hanger ending, but little was written about how, as director, he set up that last scene so effectively. With Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” as a soundtrack and the cameras panning around the diners — each one a potential assassin trying to off Tony — the tension was sky-high.

While there was a fair amount of praise and consternation expressed by viewers and critics, the DGA Awards represent a primary opportunity for Chase’s colleagues to weigh in.

Says “30 Rock” and “Rescue Me” director Don Scardino: “What makes television exciting is that when TV takes a risk, millions of people experience it together. It becomes part of the zeitgeist. ‘The Sopranos’ always took risks — with the last episode and the last moment pushing the risk envelope to its limit. And no one who saw it will forget it.”