The Sopranos

Season 1 Episode 1

The Sopranos

Aired Unknown Jan 10, 1999 on HBO
out of 10
User Rating
409 votes

By Users

Episode Summary


Tony Soprano, a Capo in the Jersey mafia, begins seeing a therapist because he is stricken by panic attacks. During his session, Dr. Melfi learns of his two conflicted families. Tony is stressed by his unhappy wife, rebellious kids and his demanding mother. On the business side, Tony feels pressure from his willful nephew, while also engaging in a power struggle with his Uncle Junior.


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  • goodd

  • A captivating start

    I can immediately see that all of my favourite (post-Sopranos) shows owe thanks to this series. On top of great acting, writing, directing and everything; it's the concept of the show that changed TV. Zooming in on the life and times of one complicated character and exploring his development in his gritty- and exciting world. I believe that shows such as Breaking Bad and Dexter were spawned from this genre. It's a tough gig to watch something for the first time knowing that it is universally acclaimed. High expectations aren't the best way to go into watching something. This Pilot episode met those expectations. A captivating start.moreless
  • Decent premiere and promising psychological arc

    Despite its cult status The Godfather is definitely not in my favorites list. I'm just not stimulated by these gangster-driven productions. That's why it took me so long to finally check out The Sopranos. Now that I have seen its pilot despite a few interesting elements I'm convinced that I could have spent the hour doing something more important.

    If conventional mob stories bore you to death, move on. The pilot featured everything you can expect from the genre : Murders, explosions So it's probably entertaining to many people, otherwise the show wouldn't have been so successful, but it lacked the creativity and boldness some premieres have been remembered for. The production is good, it's immersive, but not a single scene wowed me. Only a surprising lighting in an outdoor scene caught my attention. The rest felt like dj vu and it also applies to the characters.

    The story is really about Tony Soprano's struggle as a criminal, husband and father. James Gandolfini's performance was convincing but his part wasn't demanding. However I'm sure he was hired for a reason and that some of the upcoming episodes put him in a whole new light. In fact this first installment also portrayed him as a normal man, the nice neighbor next door. The psychotherapy sessions were specially enlightening to comprehend what's going on behind the curtain and at times it was hilarious. They also served to joint the different sequences and delivered an interesting way to introduce the protagonist. Lorraine Bracco made a decent shrink as Doctor Jennifer Melfi and her dynamic with the patient was quite good actually. The ducks metaphora was thoughtful and well exploited all along the episode. So even if her seduction factor makes her less believable their relationship is by far the most intriguing element.

    Beside their arc I was also moved by a discussion Tony had with his daughter in a church about two of their ancestors who had built it. She mocked his words but he explained that they were among a crew and she realized how proud they must have been. It opened the Soprano family history book and revealed a certain potential behind the action and neverending manipulations. Even his wife mentioned something about spirituality so maybe the series deserve a second look.

    Note : This review was first posted on Kritikenstein, my weblog.moreless
  • Now when "The Sopranos" is over,i desided to review all the episodes... the problem is, i don´t remember every, so untill i get the season boxes i will review the episodes that i remember the best, episodes that have touched me.moreless

    The pilot has to be the most important episode of all. It is the episode where they show what they´ve got, to make us want more of the show. The pilot episode of Sopranos realy did. David Chase direcrted and writed this episode, once again it´s wierd that he only directed this and the last episode, becuase it´s one of the most entertaining tv-show episodes i´ve ever seen. I would without doubt give it a season to show what more we can get. In the pilot allmost everything is perfect. I think the actors (Especialy Gandolfini) act mutch better than in other episodes. The ducks in the pool is brilliant, and realy shows what a sensitive person Tony realy is. I think it is allso the only episode we see him cry. Christofer shooting the guy in the pork shop, and later when he and **** is dumping the body, it´s all hilarious. There is not mutch to say, it is definatly one of my favorite episodes of Sopranos, and of cource it gets a full 10/10 rating.moreless
  • Great...

    Anthony Soprano, a capo in the DiMeo Crime Family, begins therapy with Dr. Jennifer Melfi after having anxiety attacks. His mother, Livia, refuses to move to a nursing home. Tony's Uncle Junior wants to use Tony's friend's restaurant as a location for a murder, but Tony prevents this by having the restaurant blown up. Christopher Moltisanti, Tony's nephew, murders the representative of a Czech mob that was trying to move in on the family waste management company.

    This episode was amazing there was some gury voilence and some great humour Tony was brilliant when he was with his ducks very funny when they flew away I actually felt sorry for him it was also great where he was chasing that man in his car. The Pilot was a great first episode to a great show, with a great cast that has great actors.moreless
Michael Imperioli

Michael Imperioli

Christopher Moltisanti

James Gandolfini

James Gandolfini

Tony Soprano

Lorraine Bracco

Lorraine Bracco

Dr. Jennifer Melfi

Edie Falco

Edie Falco

Carmela Soprano

Dominic Chianese

Dominic Chianese

Corrado "Junior" Soprano

Tony Sirico

Tony Sirico

Peter "Paulie Walnuts" Gualtieri

Michael Gaston

Michael Gaston

Alex Mahaffey

Guest Star

Joe Lisi

Joe Lisi

Dick Barone

Guest Star

Alton Clinton

Alton Clinton

MRI Technician

Guest Star

John Ventimiglia

John Ventimiglia

Artie Bucco

Recurring Role

Jerry Adler

Jerry Adler

Hesh Rabkin

Recurring Role

Michele de Cesare

Michele de Cesare

Hunter Scangarelo

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • Tony insists calling Green Grove a "retirement community" throughout the episode. This becomes a running joke throughout the series.

    • The pork store they have as a meeting place is Centanni's Meat Market. Starting on the next episode, the pork store would be the Satriale's Meat Market after HBO acquired an abandoned location in Kearny, New Jersey.

    • It is said that Tony is the boss of the New Jersey organized crime family. However, starting on the next episode, Tony is ranked to captain by the writers.

  • QUOTES (21)

    • Dr. Melfi: Have you ever had a prostate exam?
      Tony: Are you kidding? I don't let anyone wag their finger in my face.

    • Big Pussy: (to Mahaffey) That's a shame. A medication comes along after your gambling gets your fucking hip busted to shit.

    • Hesh: I hear Junior wants to whack Pussy Bonpensiero.
      Tony: Pussy Malanga.
      Hesh: Oh, Little Pussy.
      Tony: Yeah, Little Pussy. You think he's going to fuck with Big Pussy? My Pussy?

    • (after hearing his grandmother isn't coming to his birthday party)
      A.J.: So what, no fucking ziti now?

    • Junior: You can't blame it all on the Justice Department.

    • Dr. Melfi: Hope comes in many forms.

    • Hesh: Man is driven in toto by his insecurities.

    • Tony: Guys today have no room for the penal experience.

    • Tony: I'm not getting any satisfaction from my work, either.
      Dr. Melfi: Why?
      Tony: All because of RICO.
      Dr. Melfi: Is he your brother?
      Tony: No, the RICO statues.

    • Dr. Melfi: (on Livia) Quite a formidable maternal presence.

    • Tony: [My mother] was part of that generation who grew up during The Depression. But The Depression to her was like a trip to Six Flags.

    • Tony: (to Dr. Melfi on being Italian) My mother would've loved it if you and I got together.

    • Tony: (to Dr. Melfi) Let me tell you something. Nowadays, everybody's got to go to shrinks and counselors and go on Sally Jesse Raphael and talk about their problems. Whatever happened to Gary Cooper, the strong silent type? That was an American. He wasn't in touch with his feelings. He just did what he had to do. See what they didn't know was once they got Gary Cooper in touch with his feelings was that they wouldn't be able to shut him up and then it's dysfunction this and dysfunction that and dysfunction va fa culo!

    • Carmela: (to Tony) What's different between you and me is you're going to hell when you die.

    • Livia: I don't drive when they're predicting rain.

    • Livia: All I know is daughters are better at taking care of their mothers than sons.
      Tony: Yeah, and I bought CDs for a broken record.

    • Tony: Ma, I'll never understand that. The phone is an auditory thing, dark is an eye thing. I can understand not going out after dark. You get jumped in the shadows, whatever, but not answering the phone after dark?

    • Carmela: You're going to be home tonight for Anthony Jr.'s birthday party, right? (realizes Tony isn't paying attention) Hey, Birdman, hello.
      Tony: Yeah yeah, I'll get home early from work.
      Carmela: I'm not talking about work.

    • Carmela: (about Tony) Him with those ducks.

    • Tony: The morning of the day I got sick I've been thinking it's good to be in something from the ground floor. I came too late for that, I know. But lately I've been gettin' the feelin' that I come in at the end. The best is over.
      Melfi: Many Americans I think feel that way.
      Tony: I think about my father, he never reached the heights like me. But a lot of way he had it better. He had his people, they had their standards, and pride. Today, what have we got?

    • Tony: (about his prozac) If the wrong person finds out about this and I get a steel-jacketed anti-depressant right in the back of the head.

  • NOTES (10)

    • The German episode title is "Tony in der Krise", meaning "Tony in Crisis".

    • The pilot was shot in 1997, two years before the show aired on HBO. This explains the differences in appearance for many of the main characters (most noticably, Robert Iler as A.J.); the long time span also explains the recasts of Father Phil and Irina.

    • Music in this episode:
      "Fired Up!" by Funky Green Dogs; "I Wonder Why" by Dion & The Belmonts; "Can't Be Still" by Booker T. and the MG's; "I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying" by Sting; "Little Star" by The Elegants; "Lumina" by Joan Osborne; "No More I Love You's" by Annie Lennox; "Rumble" by Link Wray; "Shame, Shame, Shame" by Shirley & Company; "Tardes De Bolonha" by Madredeus; "The Other Side of This Life" by Jefferson Airplane; "Welcome Back" by Land of the Loops; "Who Can You Trust" by Morcheeba; "Who's Sorry Now" by Connie Francis; "The Rockford Files" by Mike Post; "I'm a Man" by Bo Diddley; "The Beast In Me" by Nick Lowe

    • Steve Van Zandt originally auditioned for the role of Tony Soprano.

    • Lorraine Bracco was originally asked to play the role of Carmela Soprano, but she felt that the part was too familiar because of her character in Goodfellas. She felt the role of Dr. Melfi would be more challenging.

    • Siberia Federico plays Tony's goomah, Irina, in this episode. She was replaced by Oksana Babiy for the remainder of the series.

    • This was the only episode in which Michael Santoro played Father Phil. Paul Schulze was chosen to play the character throughout the remainder of the series.

    • The episode won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Series.

    • In the original script, Tommy Soprano was changed to Tony Soprano.

    • Drea de Matteo played a bit part in this episode and she wasn't meant to return, but David Chase liked her work and decided to sign her on as Adriana. Her first regular appearance was in episode 3.


    • Tony asks Christopher, "Are you going to go Henry Hill on me?", referring to a mobster that actually did sell his life story, which got made into the movie, Goodfellas.

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