13 fond memories of the third best HBO show ever

as many of you cable television lovers know, a show called the Sopranos is scheduled to finally wrap up this season after 6 or 7 seasons (David Chase likes to make it difficult to count them by claiming season 6 is a two-parter) and about 25 years of total delays (i think the first part of season 6 was originally broadcast in 1974). in response to this, many websites and bloggers and the like have taken it upon themselves to create “best episode” or “best moments” lists, but to be honest with you, i think these are generally bogus, in that they give too much credit to stuff no one cares about, like the big fight ending of “Whitecaps” (episode 52). so what better way to be original that give you my OWN top 13 list of episodes? also, “Whitecaps” will not be appearing here. hell, i’m not sure any of anyone’s top 10 list will.

13. “Boca” (episode 9; writer: Jason Cahill and Robin Green & Mitchell Burgess; director: Andy Wolk)
so i’m willing to overlook the massive oral sex-themed subplot (which is mainly funny for the pie-in-the-face payoff at the end) because all the stuff about these guys threatening a soccer coach for leaving their daughter’s school is hilarious. not so much the dog stuff (no threatening dogs!) as the part where Silvio leaves a giant TV in the coach’s driveway while he feebly demands they remove it, though.

12. “the Happy Wanderer” (episode 19; writer: Frank Renzulli; director: John Patterson)
Matthew and Sean are generally a fun watch as these lame wannabe-gangsters (which i partially attribute to them not being the best actors ever as well) and this is the best example of it, especially when paired with Silvio’s way over the top rant about putting cheese on his feet so that it will smell like Sean’s mother’s crotch. classic.

11. “D-Girl” (episode 20; writer: Todd A. Kessler; director: Allen Coulter)
serious discussion warning: i have never felt that Vincent Pastore was that great of an actor and, frankly, anything he’s done post-Sopranos is capitalizing off being on such a great show. but he does a very good job here with his super-depressed wired-up scene with Anthony Junior and i imagine it’s the best thing he’ll ever do. also, there’s a super-sweet Christopher and Jon Favreau fight in here.

10. “Luxury Lounge” (episode 72; writer: Matthew Weiner; director: Danny Leiner)
if there’s ever a spinoff from the Sopranos, it needs to involve Christopher and Little Carmine. and guess who feature in this episode as a prominent team! not to mention Ben Kingsley (who’s great) and Lauren Bacall vastly improving her retrospective hotness in my eyes by swearing like a sailor in this episode before Imperioli punches her in the face.

09. “Unidentified Black Males” (episode 61; writer: Matthew Weiner and Terence Winter; director: Tim Van Patten)
the best thing to probably EVER come out of this show is the character of Little Carmine; every word out of his semi-retarded mouth is pure gold. and if you like, you can take this selection as a desire for an episode with all the Little Carmine moments rolled into one. but the BEST example of this is “Unidentified Black Males.” actually, i’ll let Little Carmine speak for himself: “the fundamental question is, will i be as effective as a boss like my dad was? and i will be, even more so, but until i am, it’s going to be hard to verify that i think i’ll be more effective.” the rest of the episode pales in comparison!

08. “Christopher” (episode 42; writer: Michael Imperioli (teleplay), Michael Imperioli and Maria Laurino (story); director: Tim Van Patten)
there’s a part here where Ralphie claims to be some random political activist and calls out Iron Eyes Cody on not being a real Indian, and the Indians are calm until he leaves and then freak out. i love it. plus, Artie gets blasted with a fruit smoothie (i assume, anyway) and that has got to count for something.

07. “Commendatori” (episode 17; writer: David Chase; director: Tim Van Patten)
a guy named Furio (the best Italian name EVER) beating up a child? check. an ancient Mafia boss who senily names random American streets? check. the whole “commendatori” thing? check. Paulie getting totally freaked out by dirty Italian toilets? check. actually, after the last one i don’t see how you can demand i keep this episode of any “greatest episodes ever” list.

06. “From Where To Eternity” (episode 22; writer: Michael Imperioli; director: Henry J. Bronchtein)
so, generally speaking, i think all things dream-related on this show are overrated junk: sometimes something neat IS shown, but you have to swallow a lot of garbage to get there. what they SHOULD have done more often is things like Christopher rambling through a description of a dream (or whatever you want to call it) about going to hell, which is an Irish bar where the Italians always lose at gambling. hell as an Irish hangout? now THAT is a burn. anyway, this also gives us the classic line: “hell is hot! that’s never been disputed by anybody.” i guess Imperioli writers about the potential afterlife better than David Chase.

05. “Denial, Anger, Acceptance” (episode 3; writer: Mark Saraceni; director: Nick Gomez)
i do really like to live in the past with some of these episodes, because while the writing does remain pretty witty and enjoyable in every season, the older episodes have a lot of capital-C CLASSIC moments. anyhow, all-in-all a great episode with the crazy Hasids and Christopher being assaulted by crazy Russians (the ending of this episode is generally very well-constructed) and Tony and Artie’s close-quarters food fight, but the best moment here is the part when Tony’s response to a question about the current locations of the Romans is “you’re looking at ’em, asshole.” this, of course, preceeds a threat to snip off a guy’s hoohah with bolt cutters. how the mighty have fallen!

04. “the Strong, Silent Type” (episode 49; writer: Terence Winter and Robin Green & Mitchell Burgess (teleplay), David Chase (story); director: Alan Taylor)
this one is all about the best intervention ever, from Elias Koteas out of nowhere to Christopher calling his mother a whore and catching a beating to Silvio’s “your hair was touching the toilet. disgusting.” the latter cracks me up every time i watch the episode. plus, i don’t mean to make light of a dog getting suffocated by someone sitting on it … but come on, it was a toy poodle, not a real dog.

03. “University” (episode 32; writer: Terence Winter and Salvatore J. Stabile (teleplay), David Chase, Terence Winter, Todd A. Kessler, Robin Green & Mitchell Burgess (story); director: Allen Coulter)
so it’s a well-known fact that i have a massive non-sexual crush on Joe Pantoliano; he’s probably lucky that i don’t have the kind of free time it would take to stalk him throughout New Jersey. in any case, this is a major Pantoliano-as-Ralphie tour de force: he bashes a guy in the face with a chain while obsessing about Gladiator, he seems CRAZY bitter about Kurt Douglas’ haircut in Spartacus, and he kills a whore (or hooah, as they say in Jersey). hell, he almost makes me appreciate Gladiator. (also, apparently it takes about 1000 people to create such an awesome episode.)

02. “Pine Barrens” (episode 37; writer: Terence Winter (teleplay), Tim Van Patten & Terence Winter (story); director: Steve Buscemi)
okay, i admit it, everyone loves this episode, even the critics – Buscemi’s a great director, Winter wrote a great episode, etc, etc. but even though i hate to concur with everyone else’s list, this is filled with great moments, mostly centering around Valery: he declares that he washes his balls with ice water, he demands you return his universal remote to the docking station, and he gets described as an interior decorator that “killed 12 Czechoslovakians.” plus, Paulie loses his shoe in the snow, and i can confirm that running around in the snow essentially barefoot sucks.

01. “46 Long” (episode 2; writer: David Chase; director: Dan Attias)
forget the sweet ranting of Paulie about Italians getting ripped off and an old lady getting wiped out with a car by Livia and the before-the-credits intro that occurs for some reason; these are not what makes this my favorite all-time episode. so there’s this moment when Christopher and Brendan are waiting to get into a club and they see Martin Scorsese entering and everyone gets excited, and Christopher shouts out “Marty! Kundun! i liked it!” this sums up everything i love about this show (and how i feel about Scorsese’s Kundun).

so i’ll miss this show, but in fairness, i think i have a deeper appreciation of it that the assholes that love “Whitecaps.” FUCK WHITECAPS. actually, this is not true, in that i will acknowledge that if it didn’t get so much love from critics and wannabe critics, i’d have thrown it on the list for the Dean Martin being blasted from a boat at the end. yeah, yeah.

Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to 13 fond memories of the third best HBO show ever

  1. NNGrendel says:

    I for one approve this article. Just finished the 2nd season on DVD and I aint stopping there. This should fill my time up until season 2 of Rome comes out on DVD.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *