WARNING — Websites linked to from this story contain spoilers.

Australian fans of The Sopranos have endured much: inconsistent scheduling; programming delays; night swaps. The list of grievances is long. The hatred directed at broadcaster Channel Nine is sharp.

Now comes the final, inevitable insult. The last ever episode of HBO’s mega-hit aired in the US on Sunday night to an … umm … mixed reception.

Deadline Hollywood reported angry fans storming the HBO website. The New York Sun claimed that “not many fans can be satisfied with the outcome of the series after eight years of emotional investment.” Blogland was more blunt. “The worst series finale EVER,” screamed a disillusioned Sopranos viewer on 2 Witches.

However, due to Nine’s Sopranos scheduling (already littered with controversy and fan-angst), local devotees will be denied sharing the outrage until, at least, August. By which time, of course, the controversy will have abated; the reported anti-climax of the much hyped finale will itself be anti-climactic.

Channel Nine will have displayed contempt for their gangland-loving viewers one last time.

Of course, there are ways to circumvent the programming lag. Almost no die-hard Soprano fans actually watch the show on Channel Nine anyway – a legacy of years of timeslot shifts, annoying re-runs and serial series teasing.

File sharing protocols such as BitTorrent and FavoriteTVShow allow the especially eager to download the final Sopranos episodes online. There are copyright issues. But would Tony Soprano care?

There’s always the option of watching the final series on DVD. If you can wait that long. If you can somehow avoid the spoilers.

Or you can tune in to Channel Nine in August, or perhaps September. And at 10:30pm (or will it be midnight?) catch up with what all the fuss was about.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey