What is your favorite episode of season 1?

The Sopranos (Pilot) (No votes)
46 Long (No votes)
Denial, Anger, Acceptance (No votes)
Meadowlands (No votes)
Total votes: 3 (38%)
Pax Soprano (No votes)
Down Neck (No votes)
The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti
Total votes: 1 (13%)
Boca (No votes)
A Hit is a Hit (No votes)
Nobody Knows Anything (No votes)
Total votes: 2 (25%)
I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano
Total votes: 2 (25%)
Total votes: 8

Re: Favorite Episode of Season One

Well, I voted, "I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano", however, during the course of watching the episodes (yet) again, I didn't enjoy it as much as I remembered from past viewings. However, I would say that the reason I voted for this episode would be that it compiled the major storylines from the past season and addressed them all fairly organically. I especially liked Carm putting Father Phil in his place as well as Tony coming to the realization the extent that his mother went to (i.e. working with Jr. to have him clipped), Tony telling the guys about Melfi, and some just laugh-out-loud moments (such as Mikey Palmici yelling at his life, "Hey! Go take some Mydol" in a completely mysoginist manner) and then the way the camera focuses on Carm while she is watching the tv interview of Mikey's wife after his murder (shown to emphasize Carm's concern for Tony and ultimately being in the same situation at some point).

The ending of the episode is especially nice seeing the Soprano family together in Vesuvio's surrounded by Tony's "friends". In retrospect, this is a bit too cliche an ending, but I do enjoy it and it also was a good representation of pulling all parts of Tony's life together, which essentially is what this scene, episode and season focused on.

However, there are some parts that didn't bode well with me (after probably the 8th or 9th time viewing this episode). Because this was the season finale, it seemed abundently clear that Chase wanted to include some bang-up action. Some of which might have been better paced in other episodes or even saved until next season.

An even bigger problem however, at least in my mind is Chase's directing. While it isn't horrible, there are some small things that bothered me. During the Jimmy hit at the beginning, there is a slow-down technique that Chase uses, and it completely takes me out of the episode. There is also an odd zoom technique that is used during the Mikey P. hit. It again taks me out of the episode. One of The Sopranos strong points is it's realism. No other show depicts real life quite in the way The Sopranos does. That is what makes the action and violence so brutal and hard-hitting. So when these slight editing techniques are used during violent scenes, the impact is deadened, as suddenly I realize I am watching a television show. The writing seems a bit forced at times as well. One of Bracco's lines is actually, "People are going to be murdered, aren't they?" It seems to me that Melfi would not necessarily jump to that conclusion, over a style of life she knows so little about. Also as Tony is sitting on the bed with Carm, he has a great interaction about what kind of a person could he be when his own mother wants him dead. Just following that interaction he tells her how he will "take care of Jr. and Mikey P. and get some satisfaction." That line was just a bit over the top, especially when we look at how little Tony & Carm talk about his business in recenet seasons. I like the dialogue, just sounded like Tony should have been telling that to Paulie or Chris. Maybe that was the point, that Tony's different lives were merging together. Bracco also seems to be over-acting at times. I can't tell if this is from Bracco or from Chase's directing with Bracco.

There is an odd bit of sound editing after Tony kills one of Jr's men on the boat with "It's Bad You Know" (by R.L. Burnside) which comes to an abrupt stop with the next scene.

I am picking on some small parts, but when a show is this great, why shouldn't we look at what could be improved? I probably was extra hard on this episode, knowing I had already voted here for my favorite episode. I know many of you will probably give me a hard time for being so hard on my "favorite episode" from Season 1 (if I had to choose again, I would go with either "Denial, Anger, Acceptance" or "Boca", but probably the former).

Re: Favorite Episode of Season One

I voted for "Isabella". For all the great episodes in season one, this one has always stuck out to me. It's the episode in which we see Tony at his lowest, most depressed point. But as the attempt on his life unfolded, he later tells Melfi, he was fighting with every fiber of his being to survive: “You know when I was depressed I said I didn't want to live? Well I'll tell you something - I didn't want to die.” And as a credit to Gandolfini’s always astonishing acting, we really believe him. When Tony turns to see his assassin approach, raising his gun, Tony’s expression is just so powerful; in a few short seconds, we see all the life return to him through the fear on his face. It’s such a potent scene, and I get chills every time I watch it. The song used here, and elsewhere in the episode is also a perfect choice: "Tiny Tears", by The Tindersticks.

The scenes between Junior and Livia were also very interesting. As time goes on, both Junior and Tony seem to have very strong opinions about Livia’s role in the hit, and they are convinced that her subsequent memory loss and stroke are "acts" she's putting on. Looking back at this episode, though, it’s kept very ambiguous as to whether or not Livia is deliberately calculating and scheming to appear senile, or if she’s unintentionally exhibiting genuine signs of her old age and dementia.

What was the majority reaction to the revelation that Isabella was a figment of Tony’s imagination? Was it too surreal and cliché for most, or did you enjoy that ending? I was truly surprised by that reveal, and found the whole thing very eerie and bizarre (in a good way), only heightened by the fact that I wasn’t expecting it at all. True, it’s kind of cliché and over the top, but it works if you just sit back, watch the show, and keep yourself from thinking too much about it. Plus, it served it’s purpose, and provided a plot point for Tony to discuss with Melfi later on (the vision of Isabella as a nurturing mother figure).

Re: Favorite Episode of Season One

U.P., Isabella is a great episode. But to answer your question, the surprise point at the end is a bit of a cliche. It didn't significantly bother me, but when I first watched it, it did seem to be a bit much. Perhaps because I started watching the show close to the time The Sixth Sense was popular and has a similar twist at the end. But still, everything else in this episode so spot-on, the acting, directing, music choice, etc., that I have a really difficult time being too upset by their choice. Also the choice to do Isabella IS explained by Melfi, it wasn't done for the shock-factor, which raises it above other shows, where that would be the climax of the episode. In this case, it really furthers Tony's work with Melfi and it helps us understand what a head-case Tony really is ;-)

Re: Favorite Episode of Season One

So many great episodes in Season one, probably the finest of all the excellent seasons. I was just re watching many episodes from season one this past week. The pilot episode is great at setting up the theme of the show, with Tony's first therapy session. This episode does a great job establishing the main characters of the series. So many of them are so great in their roles it can be hard fitting in time for them to establish themselves, this ep does it.

Denial, Anger and Acceptance, Down Neck(features the first flashbacks of Tony's dad, Johnny Boy and Junior) Boca, Nobody Knows Anything and Isabella all rank as great episodes to me. They all build anticipation and drama for the following episodes.

But, if I had to pick my favorite from season 1 it would have to be "I Dream Of Jeannie Cusamano". This episode was one of the most action packed and violent episodes in series history. The whacking of Jimmy Altieri, wrongly accused of being a rat. Chuckie Signore; the one responsible for setting up all of Junior's hits. Tony took care of this one personally, in one of the most creative hits by pulling the gun out of the large bass that he tells Chucky he just caught after assuring him to relax. Of course you have the hit on Mikey Palmice, my favorite villian in series history. As sad as I was to see him go, he went out in a memorable way, being gunned down by Christopher and Paulie( "poision ivy, I can feel it itching already!") in the woods.
However, this is not the reason it is my favorite episode from season one. The great job of David Chase and the writers to wrap up the season and give the viewers the payoff, after building from the previous episodes. Tony bounced back from the attempted hit, jolted out of his depression and took care of buisness, fully cementing himself as boss. His admission to his crew about therapy was also very well done as was the scene where he cofronted his mother after she was unconsious about the hit. I still don't know if she was actually smiling or not, but it damn sure looks like she was!

Re: Favorite Episode of Season 1

The more I watch past episodes, the more I wish that certain characters had been kept while certain others had been eliminated.

I think Richie was a terrible character and was glad his stay was so short. I don't think it was a mistake to introduce him to the audience. I'm not exactly sure why DC decided to do that. Perhaps it was some kind of "Before" and "After" comparison where DC wanted us to see an example of a big mistake and to understand why Tony wanted him out. If Janice hadn't taken care of the problem, someone else would have done it very soon. Ulitmately, Tony would have taken Richie out. He was just bad for business all the way around.

On the other hand, I think Ralph was the best character ever to have joined the show and I sorely wish he could have been kept around for a long, long time - hopefully until the last few episodes. Joe Pantoliano was just superb in the role of Ralph. It was a close call between Ralph and Tony B. But I truly enjoyed Ralph and I think he would have made a great addition to most every script in which he didn't appear. IMO, Joe was just magic in that role.

Also Brendan Falon. I can understand the rationale why he had to go. But he was the funniest character I had ever seen on the show. So many of the things he said kept me in stitches. I laughed so hard when he called Jackie "Chemo Subby". I think it was the biggest laugh I ever had while watching an episode. At the very least, perhaps they could have made Brendan twins like Patsie and Phillie and just killed one of them? Brendan was terrific. Such a shame his stay was so short.

So, how does all that translate into picking a favorite episode? Well, it has to be an episode featuring Brendan. I guess it would be "Denial, Anger, Acceptance" because of the way Brendan "flirted" with the girls. Never has anyone flirted in such a way to sicken the object of their affection.

Re: Favorite Episode of Season 1

I voted for College. It's always been in my top five favorite episodes of the series and was even my number one favorite episode at one point. I just really like the story of Tony living dual lives so closely intertwined. One part of him is trying to be a good father and spend time with Meadow, yet the other part of his life is getting in the way. It's basically a mini version of the foundation of the series as a whole.

Re: Favorite Episode of Season 1

I voted for Isabella. The entire first season is pretty consistent all the way through but I liked the way the tension built up to the attempted hit at the end. We didn't really see Tony's life in danger like that until the much later in the series, but I thought had a Blue Comet-ish feel to it. It' a really good hour of TV.

Re: Favorite Episode of Season 1

Tough choice between College and Isabella. Ultimately, I'll have to go with College. While Isabella was brilliant as a chapter in Tony's life, and "Tiny Tears" is an excellent musical cue, easily the best of the season, the whole hallucination subplot just seemed too "M. Night-y" to me, if that makes sense.

College is not without its flaws either, primarily the killing of Fabian Petrulio itself - the way they carried on a conversation while Tony garroted Fabian just seemed unrealistic to me. But overall, the episode is excellently paced and extremely atmospheric in a way that would set the standard for the rest of the series.
Taps, lights out, 2200 hours. What's missing? Give up? Television.
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