Favorite episode credited solely to Chase/Winter/Green & Bur

Hurray, another silly poll to pass the time with. Here's the deal: which is your favorite episode credited solely to one of the show's four (or five) most prolific writers? They are: David Chase, Terence Winter, Robin Green & Mitchell Burgess, and Matthew Weiner (he's great, by the way). Of course, we all know that WGA writing credits aren't 100% (or even 90% or even 50%) reliable and, yeah, David Chase's fingerprints probably are all over every single episode. But still: I think this is a lot of fun because many of the "best" episodes ("Funhouse", "Whitecaps", "Kennedy and Heidi" etc.) are disqualified because two or more writers receives writing credit for them. "Long Term Parking" is still in there, though. Feel free to motivate your choices as you please.

Here's the lists as a reminder:
David Chase (9 episodes)
  • "The Sopranos Pilot" (1.01)
  • "46 Long" (1.02)
  • "I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano" (1.13)
  • "Commendatori" (2.04)
  • "Mr. Ruggerio's Neighborhood" (3.01)
  • "Proshai, Livushka" (3.02)
  • "For All Debts Public and Private" (4.01)
  • "Join the Club" (6.02)
  • "Made in America" (6.21)

Terence Winter (15 episodes)
  • "Big Girls Don't Cry" (2.05)
  • "House Arrest" (2.11)
  • "Another Toothpick" (3.05)
  • "Pine Barrens" (3.11) (yes, I'd say it qualifies)
  • "The Weight" (4.04)
  • "Eloise" (4.12)
  • "In Camelot" (5.07)
  • "Long Term Parking" (5.12)
  • "Members Only" (6.01)
  • "Mr. & Mrs. John Sacrimoni Request..." (6.05)
  • "The Ride" (6.09)
  • "Stage 5" (6.14)
  • "Remember When" (6.15)
  • "Walk Like a Man" (6.17)
  • "The Second Coming" (6.19)

Robin Green & Mitchell Burgess (10 episodes)
  • "Down Neck" (1.07)
  • "Isabella" (1.12)
  • "Full Leather Jacket" (2.08)
  • "The Knight in White Satin Armor" (2.12)
  • "Employee of the Month" (3.04)
  • "…To Save Us All from Satan's Power" (3.10)
  • "Pie-O-My" (4.05)
  • "Whoever Did This" (4.09)
  • "Irregular Around the Margins" (5.05)
  • "Cold Cuts" (5.10)

Matthew Weiner (6 episodes)
  • "Rat Pack" (5.02)
  • "Sentimental Education" (5.06)
  • "Mayham" (6.03)
  • "Luxury Lounge" (6.07)
  • "Moe N' Joe" (6.10)
  • "Chasing It" (6.16)

Re: Favorite episode credited solely to Chase/Winter/Green &

I'll do a separate post for my picks, pardon me.

David Chase: Well, this is a no-brainer. It's "Join the Club," what else would it be? Possibly the most mind-blowing 52 minutes of television I've ever watched.

Terence Winter: This is a little harder. Although "Long Term Parking" has plenty of high drama, and feels pretty much what I imagine it feels like to get stabbed in the stomach, I wouldn't say it's my favorite Winter-written episode. My favorite Terry Winter episode is actually "Mr. & Mrs. John Sacrimoni Request." Winter's work on the show has always been well above average but that episode, to my mind, just captures what the show is all about. Thematically, I think it's one of the most coherent and profound episodes of the show. The meditation on masculinity, manliness, and "all that there," as Tony would put it, is just timeless. The story about the wedding is great too.

Robin Green & Mitchell Burgess: Another no-brainer: "Whoever Did This." What can I even say about this episode that hasn't been said already? It just turned everything around.

Matthew Weiner: "Mayham." I just wanna point out that I think Weiner is a terrific writer (watch Mad Men if you think he's a hack; watch Brooklyn Rules if you really think Terence Winter is god). I think he truly gets the show and I suspect that's why he got to co-write so many episodes with Chase (more than any other writer, actually, and he was only a writer on the show for three seasons). Anyway, "Mayham" is just great. I think it beautifully and bleakly shows how Tony's other family copes with the possibility of him dying. And the dream sequence is of course as magnificent as in "Join the Club," though I suppose that was written by Chase.

Overall winner: "Join the Club."

Re: Favorite episode credited solely to Chase/Winter/Green &

Parps, this is an interesting poll, even if I agree that it's somewhat academic because of the flakiness of writer credit guidelines under the WGA rules. There probably isn't a single Sopranos episode that doesn't include dialog written by Chase, and I suspect that, through heavy editing, he's been the major writer behind episodes where he isn't credited or is credited last.

Putting that a side, however, this still seems like a fun idea. When I finish my reply, I'll see if I can actually put the options into a poll question at the top so that people can just vote without having to post. Then we'll also have a running tally and graphic as to the results.

On first glance, I was able to nominate 5 episodes:
  • "Proshai, Livushka" (3.02)
  • "Join the Club" (6.02)
  • "The Weight" (4.04)
  • "Isabella" (1.12)
  • "Employee of the Month" (3.04)
Employee of the Month is a perfect episode in so many ways, and its self-contained nature would place it among my very top choices if I were trying to quickly convince a newbie why the Sopranos is such a great show.

But when you consider that the show ultimately revolves around Tony and his (ultimately frustrating) effort to achieve some kind of introspection and inner "peace", it's hard to top Join the Club as it is among the most "relevant" episodes in the entire series to this central theme. It contains probably the most masterful use of subtext and symbolism in the whole series and manages to combine this with riveting, hyper-realistic moments of medical and emotional crises, genuine poignancy, and that absolutely spine-tingling moment at the end where Tony looks out at the beacon in clear contemplation of simply "giving up" on life.

That's tough to beat, so I vote for Join the Club.
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: Favorite episode credited solely to Chase/Winter/Green &

Parps, I posted the last response before I saw your second post, so I guess I slightly misunderstood what I was supposed to do. I thought we were to pick one episode overall, not one from each writer.

In the former case, I stand by Join the Club, which obviously is also my favorite ep credited solely to Chase. To augment that with one pick for each of the other writers/tandems, I would add:

Employee of the Month (Green/Burgess)

In addition to reasons already given, the weaving of Melfi's harrowing rape into her unique relationship with Tony was brilliant in concept and in execution. The last 15 seconds of the episode are as tense as any in the series and show how powerful a single word can be. The ep also contains one of the funniest moments of the series to me, so much so that I made it my signature! Definitely among my top 10 episodes all time and a prime example of why Green/Burgess were my second favorite writers to Chase himself.

The Weight (Winter)

I think the combination of brutality, humor, and poignancy of this episode make it an all-time great and Winter's best. I give him special credit because he thought up the central idea of the episode on the fly (an actor's illness forced a last minute substantial rework to the plans for this episode) and had to sell Chase on its viability. What he came up with really makes Johnny Sac as a 3-dimensional character. The wacky Boston hitmen and the burgeoning acidity of Tony and Carmela's relationship offer just the right counterpoint. A brilliant episode.

Mayham (Weiner)

It's not even close on this one, as I generally consider Weiner-only written episodes among the least appealing of the series. While Weiner is listed as co-writer on several eps that I consider top-notch A-1 (e.g., Unidentified Black Males, Test Dream, Kennedy and Heidi), several factors (including the commentary to Kaisha and episodes like Rat Pack and Luxury Lounge) convince me that Weiner was likely not doing the heavy lifting on those co-written episodes. I know many (including Chase) are knocked out by Madmen, but the little I saw of it didn't terribly impress me.

So Mayham is a no-brainer for me because it continues and concludes the fascinating coma dream that started in Join the Club. Carmela's explosion at AJ at home and the Melfi/Carmela scene that followed are also standouts that made this a terrific episode. I suspect Chase had a lot to do with the final script, but for Weiner to have retained sole credit, he must have done a lot right with this ep himself. Well-done.
Tony, his spirits crushed after b-lining to the fridge first thing in the morning: "Who ate the last piece of cake?"

Re: Favorite episode credited solely to Chase/Winter/Green &

I like this thread, it's an interesting idea. I'll go in order.

David Chase: Not quite a no-brainer for me, as I really consider "Proshai, Livushka" to be a highlight of the series. However, Livia's final scene really is a black mark on the show, and I agree that "Join the Club" is one of the richest episodes, so that's my pick as well.

Terence Winter: Perhaps it's just my fondness for Johnny Sac talking, but I'm going to go with Stage 5. It might even be my favorite episode of season 6B. Particularly strong is Tony's session with Melfi.

Robin Green & Mitchell Burgess: I strongly considered both "Whoever Did This" and "Irregular Around the Margins," but in the end had to agree with Fly and choose "Employee of the Month." I've written about this episode before, so if you'll pardon me I'll just paste some of the comments I made previously and say that Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess won the Emmy for writing this episode, and deservedly so. Even given the weight of the primary story, the episode doesn't lack in humor (but the humor doesn't dilute that weight - a tightrope walk if I've ever seen one), and all the threads are balanced very nicely. So the choice was clear.

Matthew Weiner: "Mayham." I could say something about how much I enjoy Mad Men, and how viewing it and hearing interviews has given me a bit of understanding about what Weiner brought to The Sopranos, but I won't (beyond that, anyway). "Mayham" is his best (credited) episode, end of story.

Overall winner: "Join the Club."
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