By Simon Vozick-Levinson
April 16, 2007 at 12:00 PM EDT
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(Warning: Mild spoilers ahead from last night’s episode of The Sopranos.)

Amid last night’s particularly dark episode of The Sopranos came some simpler pleasures, courtesy of a little slasher flick called Cleaver. That’s right — Christopher Moltisanti’s first venture as a filmmaker, the ultraviolent Mafia revenge saga he once pitched as “Saw meets Godfather II,” finally wrapped, and Chrissy proudly screened it for the whole famiglia.

Unsurprisingly, the film’s premiere helped revive an assortment of barely-buried tensions within its audience, thus advancing the show’s inexorable march towards a dramatic crisis. It also provided an occasion for a deliciously meta subplot in which Tony uncomfortably contemplates his resemblance to the potbellied, bullying boss on the big screen; he might as well have been watching a few key episodes of The Sopranos. (Despite Tony’s feelings of betrayal over Chrissy’s apparent celluloid insult, his behavior seemed notably restrained last night, as if Chase wanted to remind us that he’s not always the bloodthirsty lunatic he became in Christopher’s cinematic imagination.) Most of all, though, Cleaver gave us this season’s first laugh-out-loud funny moments. Just like Christopher and co-producer “Little” Carmine Lupertazzi’s pre-production hi-jinx last year, the scenes we saw from the movie provided a welcome respite from the steadily mounting sense of dread in every other aspect of the series.

A little more comic relief arrives in the form of a making-of mockumentary which HBO has put together for the fictional film. An ad at the end of last night’s episode promised that “Making Cleaver” would air tonight, but thanks to the good folks at YouTube, it’s already online. (You can check it out after the jump.) The featurette includes deadpan interviews with producers Chris and Carmine, director Morgan Yam (whose use of the phrase “B-movie fanboys” throws those two for a serious loop), and star Daniel Baldwin, who plays himself as the actor who takes on the role of ill-fated boss “Sally Boy.” It’s an amusing watch, no doubt, and it sorta makes me wish I could see Cleaver in all its glory.

What about you, PopWatchers — would you drop $10 to see Christopher’s repressed resentment played out on the screens of your local multiplex? (I know I would.) Is this behind-the-scenes short a brilliant addition to the Sopranos canon, or a silly joke? And where do you hope this plot will go in the seven (tear!) episodes that remain?

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