The Sopranos—Season 1

sopranos season 1 dvd cover episode guide
10 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Hits the ground running and doesn't stop


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Woke up this morning and got myself a gun

Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) has “family” problems.  At home he has his wife Carmela (Edie Falco), two entitled teens (Jamie-Lynn Sigler and Robert Iler), and a mother (Nancy Marchand) who can’t be pleased.  Tony’s work is in “waste management” but most realize he’s part of the mafia where a dying mob boss means there is a big power struggle going on.  When Tony starts having panic attacks, a psychiatrist is in order, but even Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) might not be able to fix Tony’s problems with all the time in the world.  Tony’s struggles are getting dangerous, the world between his two family is blurring, and something is going to break…and it could just be Tony.

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It’s hard to treat a guy who could have you killed

The Sopranos—Season 1 aired on HBO from January 10, 1999 to April 4, 2000.  The series received instant critical acclaim and became a cultural phenomenon.  The season won Golden Globes for Best Drama, Best Performance for an Actress in a Television Series—Drama (Falco), Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series—Drama (Gandolfini), and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Nancy Marchand) with another nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series—Drama (Bracco).  At the Emmys the series won Outstanding Casting for a Series, Outstanding Single Camera Picture Editing for a Series (“The Sopranos”), Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Falco), and Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series (“College”) with nominations for Outstanding Art Direction for a Series (“The Sopranos”), Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series (“The Sopranos”), Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Gandolfini), Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Bracco), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Marchand), Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series (John Heard), Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series (“I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano”), Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Series (“A Hit Is a Hit”), Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series (“The Sopranos”, “Nobody Knows Anything”, “Isabella”), and Outstanding Drama Series.

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Two of the great “villains”

We didn’t have cable and we definitely didn’t have HBO.  The Sopranos however was a show that began buzzing immediately.  It was pre-streaming, and around the birth of DVDs.  It was one of those shows you wanted to watch but unless you had “connections” you couldn’t always see it.  The Sopranos revolutionized TV and TV viewing.

You can see the birth of so much modern TV in The Sopranos and in this first season.  The family/work dynamic was used in shows from Breaking Bad to Weeds to Dexter.  It became a real format for TV series, but The Sopranos really did it first and best.  Without the limits of network television, all bets were off on where stories could go.  The short thirteen episode seasons were solid and concise…just long enough while leaving you wanting more.

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Another day at the office…

The strong writing was combined with a great ensemble cast.  You didn’t want to know the Sopranos and their friends, you didn’t like the Sopranos and their friends, but you still cared about them and became a de facto “mob expert” by watching it (something joked about in “A Hit Is a Hit”).  Gandolfini and Falco were the perfect couple for all their faults and bad habits.  This is paired with great supporting actors and two of the great schemers in Uncle Junior (Dominic Chianese) and Livia (Nancy Marchand).

The other aspect of The Sopranos that helped change things is that the show looked like a movie.  It was stylish and looked great.  Through the years, the show has held up visually and that is part of what makes it endearing.

The Sopranos really changed everything about TV.  It’s influence was far reaching and you can go back and watch it over and over again.  It was appointment TV that you could not miss (or you would be lost).  The first season has a perfection to it that holds up and is worth revisiting (once or twice…or three or four times).  If you didn’t catch The Sopranos early on, don’t allow yourself to miss it…it is still is one of the best shows ever on television.

The Sopranos—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:

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“The Sopranos”

1.1       The Sopranos Airdate:  01/10/99

When Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) has an anxiety attack, he finds himself going to a psychiatrist named Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) who wants him to get in touch with his feelings.  Though Tony works in waste management, he’s really one of the biggest mob leaders in the state of New Jersey.  While dealing with his family of Carmela (Edie Falco) and his spoiled children Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) and Anthony Jr. (Robert Iler), he finds himself also trying to deflect Uncle Junior (Dominic Chianese) from ruining the life of his friend Artie Bucco (John Ventimiglia) by having a mob informant hit at his restaurant.  Tony’s also dealing with his mother Livia (Nancy Marchand) who refuses to move into a nursing home and his problematic nephew Christopher (Michael Imperioli) who just wants a bit more attention from his uncle for his work.  Tony’s life is complex and the old ways might not be the right way to handle the modern mob.

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“46 Long”

1.2       46 Long Airdate:  01/17/99

Tony finds that his mother’s health is forcing him to make a decision about her long-term care which could turn her against him.  Christopher and his friend Brendan Filone (Al Sapienza) puts Tony in a hard spot when he hits one of Uncle Junior’s shipments.  Anthony Jr.’s teacher’s car is stolen, and Tony sends “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri (Tony Sirico) and Salvatore “Big Pussy” Bonpenssiero (Vincent Pastore) to find it.  Malfi tries to get Tony to confront his feelings about his mother.

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“Denial, Anger, Acceptance”

1.3       Denial, Anger, Acceptance Airdate:  01/24/99

Tony finds his friend Jackie Aprile (Michael Rispoli) going through chemo therapy and tries to deal with his decline in health.  Silvio Dante (Steve Van Zandt) comes to Tony with a means to make money off of getting a Jewish man to grant a divorce and Tony takes the job against the recommendation of Hesh (Jerry Adler).  Meadow and her friend Hunter (Michelle DeCesare) try to study for the SATs and decide they need some extra help from Christopher.  Carmela throws a party with Artie and his wife Charmaine (Katherine Narducci) as caters and learns a secret about Charmaine’s past with Tony.  Junior decides something has to be done about Christopher and Brendon since Tony refuses to act.

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1.4       Meadowlands Airdate:  01/31/99

Christopher questions who is after him and finds Brendon has been killed…forcing Tony into a confrontation with Uncle Jr.  A fight at school has Anthony learning more about his father’s “business”.  Tony has his in in the police named Vin Makazian (John Heard) investigate Melfi with shocking results.  The health of Jackie Aprile, Sr. has Tony making a big decision about his future with the business

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1.5       College Airdate:  02/07/99

Tony and Meadow visit colleges in Maine when Tony sees an old snitch named Fabian “Febby” Petrulio (Tony Ray Rossi) who wronged the family…leading Tony to take drastic measures into his own hands.  After a call from Dr. Melfi reveals Tony’s deception, Carmela and Father Phil (Paul Schulze) get some alone time together leading to a moment of temptation.

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“Pax Soprana”

1.6       Pax Soprana Airdate:  02/14/99

Junior’s the new boss and flexing his muscle by trying to tax Hesh (by suggestion of Livia) and going after a drug dealer responsible for his tailor’s grandson’s death.  As Tony tries to put out Junior’s fires, he deals with an increasing obsession with Dr. Melfi.  Carmela realizes she’s competing against Melfi for Tony’s attention and questions how she can get back into his life.  With Junior on top, a new target has been picked by investigators.

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“Down Neck”

1.7       Down Neck Airdate:  02/21/99

When Anthony Jr. is caught for stealing sacramental wine, Tony and Carmela learn that he might have a learning disability.  Tony examines his childhood at Dr. Melfi’s request and recalls how he learned his father’s involvement in “the business” and his role his mother played in the events.  A visit to Livia by Anthony Jr. reveals that Tony is seeing a psychiatrist.

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“The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti”

1.8       The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti Airdate:  02/28/99

With word that indictments are coming down, Tony and the family realize they must work on covering their tracks.  Melfi faces criticism from her ex-husband Richard LaPenna (Richard Romanus) and her son Jason (Will McCormack) for treating a member of the mafia.  Christopher suffers an identity crisis when he realizes he doesn’t rank high enough to be mentioned by the news.  Livia lets Junior know that Tony is seeing a psychiatrist.

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1.9       Boca Airdate:  03/07/99

Junior has a trip to Boca with his girlfriend Bobbi Sanfillipo (Robyn Peterson), but the fact that Junior has developed a specialized skill in bed could be bad for his name if it were to get out.  Meadow’s soccer coach Don Hauser (Kevin O’Rourke) could lead the team to state, but Tony learns that he is planning to leave the program…but Don has other secrets.

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“A Hit Is a Hit”

1.10     A Hit Is a Hit Airdate:  03/14/99

Tony’s doctor neighbor Bruce Cusamano (Robert LuPone) shows interest in hanging out with Tony, but Tony questions making a new circle of friends.  Chris and Adriana (Drea de Matteo) meet a rap mogul named Massive Genius (Bokeem Woodbine) who wants a sit down with Hesh about reparations, but Massive Genius also sparks a manager interest in Adriana involving a former boyfriend’s band Visiting Day.

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“Nobody Knows Anything”

1.11     Nobody Knows Anything Airdate:  03/21/99

Tony’s got a Big Pussy (Vincent Pastore) problem.  A tip from Vin leads Tony to believe that Pussy is the leak in his organization…putting Paulie (Tony Sirico) on the job of solving the problem.  Vin is facing his own problems with rising debt and a police raid on the bordello he frequents.  Junior learns about Tony’s “meetings” at the Green Grove retirement home and plans for Mikey (Al Sapienza) and Chucky (Sal Ruffino) to show Tony who’s the boss of the organization.

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1.12     Isabella Airdate:  03/28/99

Junior is going forward with his plans to have Tony killed but killing Tony might be more difficult than he or Livia thought.  Tony battles a heavy dose of depression as the rest of his team questions his new behavior.  The arrival of an exchange student from Italy named Isabella (Maria Grazia Cucinotta) changes Tony’s perspective on his life and his depression.  When the hit is executed, Livia reveals she has a new way of dealing with her family that even Junior couldn’t have anticipated.

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“I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano”

1.13     I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano Airdate:  04/04/99

Tony is recovering from the attempted hit on his life and finding himself at odds with Dr. Melfi when she suggests his mother could be responsible.  When presented with definitive proof that his mother and uncle attempted to have him silenced, Tony’s out for revenge.  Livia continues to push her senility leading to a big reveal to Artie.  Carmela questions Father Phil’s relationship with her when she sees his interaction with Rosalie Aprile (Sharon Angela).  Tony is being forced into a corner and something must break!

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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