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Analysis of The First Season Episodes of The Sopranos

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The Sopranos is a Drama with 6 seasons and its first episode was aired on January 10, 1999 and the final episode was aired on June 10,2007 with a total of 86 episodes.The Sopranos is David Chase’s produced American crime drama television series. The story revolves around Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), an Italian-American mobster based in New Jersey, detailing the struggles he encounters as he tries to balance his family life with his position as a criminal organization leader. These are explored with psychiatrist Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) during his therapy sessions. The series features Tony’s family members, mafia colleagues, and rivals in prominent roles — most notably his wife Carmela (Edie Falco) and Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) his protegé distant cousin.

The Sopranos entices audiences with that amazing opening-credit sequence right from the get-go. ‘Woke Up This Morning (Got Yourself A Gun)’ — a British band A3 bluesy, techno-infused, cat-in-heat screech — scores the sequence as a handheld camera introduces us to New Jersey’s harsh industrial environments. With Tony Soprano piloting his Chevrolet Suburban closer and closer to his suburban home, the views soften. The opening credits’ final shots bring Tony into his lavish house’s driveway, giving us a hint that the domestic aspect of the life of this mobster is going to be heavily reflected in his story. James Gandolfini can project a kind of worldly, street-smart confidence throughout the sequence — this is a man who knows the score, he doesn’t get the wool pulled over his eyes easily. And that’s what surprises the Pilot’s opening shot.

Below there will be a little snippet of the first season from the Sopranos episodes. As an audience you can see how interesting and addicting the shows can get. People literally binge watch these episodes because they are glued to their seats in anticipation of what will happen next.

46 Long

This episode is special in that it is the only one to have a scene before the opening credits in the entire series. To order to highlight the similarities with the opening scene of the first season, Chase may have placed the scene before the credits. The Pilot episode began with a disorienting scene, in a place of uncomfortable ambiguity with Tony (and the viewer). The second episode, on the other hand, starts with Tony in his place, feeling right at home in the Bing’s backroom. Tony hasn’t become famiglia boss yet, so he’s fitting in with the rest of the guys. It’s a nice environment in the man-cave and viewers (especially male viewers) can relate — it looks like this and sounds like it when we hang out with our buddies.(minus the corruption and extortion of stolen goodies and huge amounts of monetary exchange.

Denial, Anger, Acceptance

The episode continues the contrast between the Mob’s Golden Age and its current state of the previous episode. Two very early scenes introduced back-to-back in this hour, pitting Christopher and Brendan (representing the new mob) against Corrado and Mikey (representing the Golden Age, or at least considering themselves to represent it). The dialogue explicitly ties both scenes: the men address the return of the stolen truck to Comley in each scene. In the designs of both scenes, the contrasting audio and visuals were used to distinguish the two pairs of men:

Meadowlands

Dream sequences are an important part of The Sopranos and work within the show in a variety of ways. This episode starts with a dream sequence that does many things: it creates the tradition of Sopranos to project the visions of characters directly on our TV screens; it continues the custom of the Sopranos to create the curiosity of the audience. Just as it took us some time to recognize that Tony was in the psychiatrist’s office at the beginning of the Pilot episode, it takes us some time to realize that Tony’s dreaming here); it reveals the strange ways in which dreams can connect different interests and desires.

College

‘College’ is the shows ‘ first really unforgettable hour. Time magazine saw it as the best episode of Sopranos ever. TV Guide rated it #2 on its list of all time’s greatest TV episodes. (Seinfeld’s ‘The Showdown’ is the master of this domain, coming in at #1.) On several occasions, David Chase named it one of his favorite episodes. When it first aired in 1999, The Sopranos ‘ first season seemed to break new ground, and ‘School’ was the clearest evidence of that. Unfortunately, the trail David Chase blazed was pursued by only a relatively small number of services. There are a hundred uninspired, run-of – the-mill TV shows out there for every ‘performance’ program such as The Wire or Mad Men. Perhaps ‘College”s value is best measured not by its overall impact on television, but by its influence on The Sopranos itself. Chase had the freedom and courage to take Tony, Carmela and his whole series in whatever direction he wanted after the success of ‘College.’

Pax Soprana

Detective Vin Makazian did not appear in the previous episode ‘School’ (which was a stand-alone episode with a very narrow focus), so ‘Pax Soprana’ goes back to the previous episode ‘Meadowlands’ to pick up the story of Vin Makazian: for Tony, the Detective spied on Dr. Melfi. In this episode’s first scene, Vin updates Tony on the personal life and activities of Dr. Melfi. In my ‘Meadowlands’ post, I noted that we were frequently presented with Makazian against grungy and industrial backgrounds. This training is going on here. In the opening shot, we see Vin sitting in a lumberyard on his dusty car and we hear the mechanical noises from the moving and processing of building materials. This scene ends with Vin facing a trio of decaying iron bridges in the foreground.

Down Neck

This episode’s name may be a double job. ‘Down neck’ is the term for the neighborhood of the working class in Newark, where Tony grew up (so named because of the nearby Passaic River curve or chest); it may also refer to the significant way in which AJ and Tony push various consumables down their throats (necks) over the course of the hour. In the first scene, AJ and his friends drink sacramental wine from the chapel of their class. Typically, such actions as juvenile hijinks would be easy to dismiss. But since he’s the Soprano son, the consequences are more serious — is it an early indication that he’s going to follow the footsteps of his dad into crime and violence? The wine they imbibe isn’t the stuff their parents drink with dinner, it’s sacramental — it’s transubstantiating into the very blood of Christ according to Catholic tradition. To snatch it, swallow it up and then spit it is disrespectful to the faith — and may even characterize it as host desecration. In disdain, St. Jude looks down at them.

The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti

This episode is, in a way, the first season’s most significant. The hour depicts the existential struggle of Chris Moltisanti with what it means to be or not to be (as Hamlet famously put it), and it articulates the most fundamental philosophical idea of the series in doing so. I’m going to come back to that later; first I want to see how the episode looks at what it means to be (or not to be) Italian in America. Several episodes will explicitly explore different facets of being Italian-American, including ‘Commendatori,’ ‘Christopher’ and ‘Marco Polo,’ and the current episode pays particular attention to how the existence of the Mafia affects Italian-Americans. In its early seasons, the most strident criticism of The Sopranos came from those who claimed that their emphasis on the Italian mafia was counterproductive to all Italians (and probably to society as a whole). When The Sopranos first started to air, various Italian-American groups released harsh worded comments condemning the show.

Boca

My favorite Season One episode title is the one-word title ‘Boca.’ Clearly, it refers to Boca Raton, the spot where Corrado brings his lady-friend to relax. But boca is also for ‘mouth’ the Spanish word, and that’s where the pun gets interesting. The things that Corrado and Tony do with their mouths are potentially very risky and it might cost them their entire lives. If it turns out that Corrado is capable of pleasing his mouth to women, his role as Boss and perhaps his life could be in danger. Being so orally skilled is a professional responsibility in the Mafia’s hyper-macho culture. Likewise, the thing Tony is doing with his mouth speaking to a therapist could lead to his downfall or death. Such oral acts theoretically mark people as frail and effeminate, possibly even homosexual, in the Mob’s profoundly unenlightened society. This episode is basically full of spilled secrets.

A Hit is a Hit

‘A hit is a hit’ is a hit, rolling with good humor and playfulness, even if it doesn’t start so lighthearted. The Soprano crew whackles a Colombian on a business dispute in the first scene. But the episode turns hilarious after this early abuse, showering us with puns, absurd characters, wry cuts, a funny-cuz-it-dull joke about John Gotti, bad music, bad musicians, and rounds it off with a hands-on joke on neighbor Cusamano who’s nickname Cooz takes a lewd inflection when Tony says it. The episode also makes us laugh at the story of Jimmy Smash, a bad cleft-palated, whose career as a bank robber is tanked by his speech disorder. This doesn’t mean Chase doesn’t do a serious job here. The first season of the Sopranos was a steady investigation of the Gangster in America, and this episode is yet another variation on the subject. As ‘dad,’ ‘son,’ ‘brother,’ ‘terrorist’ and ‘boss,’ previous episodes centered on the gangster. This episode primarily continues in the vein of ‘Tennessee Moltisanti’s Myth’ (1.08), which presented the gangster as an American cultural phenomenon. ‘A Hit is a Hit’ covers some of the same territory as ‘Tennessee,’ but it is more accessible — it has no hidden allusions to previous films or cleverly crafted answers to scholarly criticism. This hour does not look at the Gangster in America as it happens in the educational or media theoretical world, but as it is viewed in the community.

Nobody Knows Anything

Fetishist’s presence ‘Dr. Mop-N-Glo ‘almost right out of the gate leads us to believe that this episode will start in the knee-slapping good-humored vein of the previous outing. A few scenes ago, the playful ribbing offered to Pussy by the guys for fleeing from the FBI, and then his stumbling, farting escape from his buddies’ laughter, seem to support this episode. But this is not going to be the case. The previous episode, ‘A Hit is a Hit,’ started darkly (with a murder) but switched gears quickly. Now the reverse shift is made by ‘Nobody Knows Anything,’ starting playfully but becoming very quickly very serious. The gravity starts with Det. Vin Makazian looking over the Raritan River waiting to meet Tony. It’s this river he’s going to leap into later in the episode to his death. The reverse-angle shot, as Tony arrives, catches the bridge from which Makazian must make the mortal leap.

Isabella

It was all the way back to the Pilot that we first understood that Corrado and Livia might be willing to go into a murderous conspiracy when he suggested ominously to her that ‘something might have to be done’ about Tony. David Chase spent the whole season playing this storyline, sometimes shining a light on it, sometimes burying it under other stories. Also now, chase tinkers with the storyline’s tempo. The first part of this hour is so dreamy and ethereal that in this episode we couldn’t expect the plot of Corrado and Livia to hit critical mass. But that’s it. Chase tries to hide our hopes.

I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano

In the course of the last few episodes, Tony Soprano has been betrayed, both professionally and personally, and now it’s time for payback. Jimmy Altieri is quickly and easily dispatched. Chris pulls Jimmy to a hotel room where Silvio is waiting for him, using the promise of a stunning Russian woman. His mouth is packed with a warning to the FBI and whoever thinks he can be a rodent. Tony must also take revenge on his Uncle Ju, but first must be rid of the henchmen of Junior. Tony pulls a gun out of a tank to kill Chucky Signore (a creative way of referring to the ‘sleep with the fishes’ line of the Godfather?). Then Paulie then Chris are chasing Mikey Palmice down in a forest in a scene that almost seems like a glimpse of the infamous episode ‘Pine Barrens.’ While his men are whacked, Corrado escapes — the Feds arrest him before Tony can get to him. Nevertheless, the greatest deception is one that Tony is unaware of (or maybe unwilling to admit to himself). Dr. Melfi suspects that Livia is more guilty of recent events with Borderline Personality Disorder than Tony can admit. Melfi says it is good for people with this disorder to ‘create bitterness and conflict in their circle between others.’ Her words strike a raw nerve, and Tony explodes, breaking a plate, and falling over his psychiatrist.

In conclusion, The Sopranos was a highly addictive mafia and mobster filled tv series which had people not able to move from their couches for years. There was real life depictions of what could happen in mobs and Italians though first condemning the show ended up loving the entire concept and for being recognized.

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Analysis Of The First Season Episodes Of The Sopranos. (2021, Jun 09). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 23, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/analysis-of-the-first-season-episodes-of-the-sopranos/
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Analysis Of The First Season Episodes Of The Sopranos. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/analysis-of-the-first-season-episodes-of-the-sopranos/> [Accessed 23 May 2022].
Analysis Of The First Season Episodes Of The Sopranos [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Jun 09 [cited 2022 May 23]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/analysis-of-the-first-season-episodes-of-the-sopranos/
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