The Sopranos: Pilot   First Watch 
October 20, 2021 12:24 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

A mobster passes out at a family barbecue and seeks therapy to understand why.

Why Is Every Young Person in America Watching ‘The Sopranos’?

I'm probably not a "Young Person" (really more of a Snake Person), but I sure am watching the Sopranos! I never watched it in its original run, so this is going to be a heck of a ride.
posted by overeducated_alligator (16 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Some initial observations/reactions:

- It's the 90s! Seeing the Twin Towers still standing in the opening credits was the perfect encapsulation of the historical moment.
- There are so many characters introduced in the first episode, but almost all of them are given real emotional dimension instead of being lazy tropes. Lorraine Bracco's Dr. Melfi is the most impressive one to me, because she could have been written as a shallow foil for Tony Soprano, instead of a formidable equal.
- It's also interesting to me that Dr. Melfi is coming from a more traditional psychoanalytic approach than, say, a cognitive behavioral one. A psychiatrist character written in 1999 is so different from one written in 2021.
- The hierarchy of the family (literal and figurative) is clearly established by the end of episode 1.
- The Soprano children are hilariously useless.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 12:39 PM on October 20 [2 favorites]


I'm a little envious of you getting to see it for the first time. And in some ways not envious at all. There are some devastating moments to come.

I loved seeing the Twin Towers on a recent-ish rewatch of Season 1. I don't think it's a spoiler to say the towers vanish from the intro after 9/11. I kinda wish they had re-filmed the intro for each season. The show went on long enough that the intro would have showed the creeping gentrification in some neighborhoods, and the decay in others.

psychiatrist character written in 1999 is so different from one written in 2021.

I don't know anything about trends in psychiatry but I'm very curious about this. Can you expand a bit? How different in practice would a 2021 Melfi be from 1999 Melfi?
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 4:50 PM on October 20


Looks like this would be a good time to start watching.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:18 AM on October 21 [1 favorite]


I've been putting this show off long enough. I think it's time.
posted by guiseroom at 9:09 AM on October 21 [1 favorite]


Just when I thought I was out.
posted by emelenjr at 10:02 AM on October 21 [3 favorites]


Dammit, why didn't you start this thread 3 weeks ago when I was starting my umpteenth rewatch?! You're breakin' my balls here!

What I love about this show is how from the very beginning all of the relationships feel so real and lived in and authentic. It's hard to pick out any one, but Carmela and Tony -- the chemistry between Falco and Gandolfini on screen is just beautiful. There's a short scene a little later in the season where Carm and Tony are talking by the pool -- no spoilers, it's not a major scene plot-wise, just a conversation between husband and wife about what's going on in their lives; in an interview with Edie Falco, she brings up that scene and said that after filming that scene she realized just what an amazing situation she was in as an actor and told herself "this is it, this is why I do this, it's never going to get any better than this." (in a good way, not in an "it's all downhill now" way).

The pilot also contains one of my all-time favorite Artie Bucco moments (for you first-timers, Artie Bucco is the gift that keeps on giving, I truly envy you getting to experience the pure brilliance that comes from that guy for the first time). When he's trying to convince Charmaine to go on the cruise: "Tony is a labor leader!" Oh god, just hearing it in my mind makes me crack up laughing. The pleading and desperation in his voice -- and that hint of "yeah, I know I'm full of shit, but please, can't we just take the damn tickets?!" So good. And Charmaine's response is perfect: you can feel her frustration as ONCE AGAIN she has to smack some sense into her idiot husband. Just like with Carmela and Tony, these 2 feel like they have been married for years. And it proves once more how (most of) the female characters (and actors) in this show are just as important and just as well written and awesome as the male characters. Yeah, it doesn't always deal with women well -- lots of jiggling boobies, men demeaning women, and a couple times where violence against women is played for comedy -- and it doesn't deal well with race -- as is typical of most mafia stories, I find -- but the main female characters are fully three-dimensional and just as complex as their male counterparts.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:40 AM on October 21 [7 favorites]


I’m joining for the rewatch, and interestingly, heard Stevie van Zandt on Preet Bharara’s podcast today.

Blew my mind that he was in E Street Band. Took him for a character actor of the first degree - Silvio was one of those characters that just drew your eye every time he was on screen.

Excited.
posted by Seeba at 4:21 PM on October 21


I'm probably not a "Young Person" (really more of a Snake Person), but I sure am watching the Sopranos!

🤟 Couple of three things:

🤌 I figured the article referred to anyone who was too young to watch the show twenty years ago, not just Tik Tok Zoomers. My youngest brother just finished the series for the first time, and he has a kid -- and his own car even.

🖐️ I watched the show when it originally aired; I was around AJ and Meadow's age. I was amazed at how accurate the depictions of the kids were. Especially AJ's development, as cringe as it was to see on screen.

👆 This pilot is a bit jarring because it's much more of a comedy than the series would become. The Sopranos always had humor, but this is 2/3 of the way to being a sitcom on Fox. The scene where Carmella comes at Meadow sneaking into the house with the AR-15 ridiculous after you've seen the series once and re-watch this. It's like out of a bad DeNiro comedy or something.

✋ I said my piece.
posted by riruro at 7:01 PM on October 21 [3 favorites]


This pilot is a bit jarring because it's much more of a comedy than the series would become.

Hmm... I'll agree that there are a few things in the pilot that don't quite jive with the series as a whole, but every time I rewatch this show, the comedy seems more and more pronounced throughout the whole series -- even in the more devastating moments.

Carm with the AR-15 is a little weird, but I was also struck by how out of character it seems for Tony to chase down Mahaffey (or whatever his name is) in broad daylight, in public, in front of dozens of witnesses, in a car with plates that could easily be identified, and beat the shit out of him without even trying to hide it. He's got a bad temper, but he usually tries to keep civilians from seeing him in action. Maybe he would have done something like this in his youth, but come on, he's a captain now!
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:35 PM on October 21 [1 favorite]


Just a brief note here, since someone has already assumed that this is a rewatch: it's tagged as first watch, which it is for me.

Loved it. I did wonder about that AK, and also about that public beating of the guy in front of the HMO; maybe it's because this is set (I assume) in 1999, when phones didn't yet have cameras and therefore you didn't assume that anybody if not everybody around could get your picture or even video, but still, you'd think that Tony would get an enforcer or two to go after the guy. And Carmela would much more likely have a pistol. But it's still early days for the show and I get that things might still be shaking down a bit. And everything else is tight; I especially loved watching Lorraine Bracco. Maybe it's just because I mostly associate her with GoodFellas, and that she's playing such a different role here, but it's just lots of fun watching her listen to Tony, and the realization that she has at the restaurant when all Tony does is say hello to her and suddenly her and her date have a table. Also liked/recognized John Ventimiglia, who was also on Jessica Jones.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:10 PM on October 21


My apologies. If I comment, I'll make sure that I'm not writing from the perspective of knowing what is to come.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:49 PM on October 22


I’m so glad that you’ve added this to Fanfare because I only started watching this series a few weeks ago, after having caught a few episodes and enjoying them immensely when they first aired, and I immediately raced here to see if there was any commentary and there wasn’t but now there is! Hooray!

I’ll add some actual thoughts on here soon :)
posted by h00py at 3:38 AM on October 23


Oh hey, I was just deciding between taking on The Wire or The Sopranos as my next blind watch. Perfect timing!
posted by ApathyGirl at 12:52 PM on October 26


A few years ago on the blue, someone said they thought about this show at least once a day....

For something I binged over a week in my late 20's, long after it's time, this show really worked its way into my psyche.
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 5:21 PM on October 29


It's like out of a bad DeNiro comedy or something.

David Chase has said that he had the idea for the Sopranos before Analyze This, but I wonder if there's a back-story there.

Hollywood is rife with dueling near-twin projects, it wouldn't surprise me if either the producers of the Sopranos or Analyze This got wind of the other project and tried to one-up them.

I fucking hate this practice, by the way. Such a rat-like/wallstreet point of view toward storytelling. Money people ruin so many things.
posted by ishmael at 11:23 AM on October 30


Although to be clear, the Sopranos is far and away the better story, even just judging them on comedy standards.
posted by ishmael at 11:25 AM on October 30


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