On Jan. 10, 1999, a mobster walked into a psychiatrist’s office. What happened next — over the course of eight years — was a television revolution. By the time the writer and producer David Chase brought “The Sopranos” to a close on June 10, 2007, he had helped establish HBO as a cultural force and make literary symbolism, cinematic style, long-form storytelling and complicated antiheroes the norm for high-end TV dramas.
With the 20th anniversary of “The Sopranos” premiere happening this week, there’s a lot of chatter right now about the show’s legacy. If you’re already a fan, it might prompt you to want to do a rewatch. But who has time for 86 hourlong episodes? If you’re interested in a more efficient way to re-immerse yourself, what follows are some suggestions, for both a short dip and a deeper dive.
This guide is designed for people who’ve already watched the entire “Sopranos” series at least once, broken down by different viewing strategies. Spoilers are kept to a minimum, though, so in theory, newcomers could try one of these paths as well.
[David Chase looks back at “The Sopranos” 20 years after its debut — including that ending.]
So grab a platter of “gabagool” and “moozadell,” keep an eye out for wily Russians and let’s head back to Jersey. (Stream the entire series on HBO or free on Amazon with a Prime subscription.)I want to watch only one episode
Season 1: Episode 1
“The Sopranos” begins as the New Jersey mafia boss Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) reluctantly seeks therapy for help with his panic attacks. Through six seasons (seven by some counts, as the final season was 21 episodes and split in two), the series grows into an increasingly complex, violent and morally ambiguous story about changing times and old grudges. Throughout, Chase and his writers, directors and actors challenge viewers to consider what they might have in common with a criminal.
Fans argue vehemently over which episode is the series’s high point. “College?” “Pine Barrens?” “Whitecaps?” But the first “Sopranos” episode — sometimes listed as “Pilot” and sometimes as “The Sopranos” — isn’t just one of the series’s best, it is easily among the best first episodes of any TV drama. In a tightly constructed 60 minutes, Chase, as the writer and director, skillfully introduces the premise, themes and tone of the show within a largely self-contained story that would be a classic even if HBO had never ordered any more.
Framed by two therapy sessions between Tony and his new psychiatrist, Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco), “The Sopranos” pilot defies expectations at every turn — beginning with the way it compares the familiar mob milieu of seedy dives and old Italian-American neighborhoods with the yuppie trappings of the suburbs. The modern version of organized crime on this show isn’t just about gambling, labor unions, prostitution and hijacking. It is also about junk bonds and health care scams … and it’s more than a little sad.
[Read our Q. and A. with the authors of a newly published guidebook to the series, “The Sopranos Sessions.”]
The first “Sopranos” also establishes what Tony will face for the rest of the series: nit-picking and undercutting from the mob’s old-timers, and a nagging feeling that the best days of his profession were over long before he rose to power.I’ve got some time. I’ll watch five.
Season 1: Episodes 1 and 5
Season 3: Episodes 4, 6, 11
Dig into the episodes that are widely considered the best of the best. Episode 11 of Season 3, “Pine Barrens” (directed by Steve Buscemi, with a teleplay credited to Terence Winter, the future creator of “Boardwalk Empire,” from a story by Tim Van Patten, a frequent “Sopranos” director), is a fan favorite for good reasons. The story of the Soprano lieutenants Paulie Gualtieri (Tony Sirico) and Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) getting lost in the woods while trying to dispose of a not-quite-dead body is a peerless example of the show’s dark sense of humor — and is one of the many times the creators refused to grant the audience closure.
Along the same lines, also from Season 3, “Employee of the Month” (Episode 4) has a difficult main plot, in which Dr. Melfi is sexually assaulted by a stranger and weighs whether she should call on Tony for vengeance. The writers ask viewers whether it’s healthy to root for violence, even in a work of fiction, and then answer their own question in a chilling final line of dialogue.
The most thematically significant episodes of this batch, though, are the companion-pieces “College” (Season 1, Episode 5) and “University” (Season 3, Episode 6). In “College,” Tony takes his daughter, Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler), on a tour of Maine colleges and runs into a former colleague, now in witness protection. In “University,” Meadow deals with an annoying Columbia University roommate, at the same time that Tony and his henchmen are distracted by an emotionally needy stripper.
Both episodes build to shocking acts of emotional and physical brutality, meant to remind fans that these characters — while damnably likable — have been corrupted by a life in which inconvenient people are considered easily disposable.I’m into it. I’ll watch 10 episodes.
Season 1: Episodes 1, 5 and 13
Season 2: Episode 12
Season 3: Episodes 4, 6 and 11
Season 4: Episode 13
Season 5: Episode 12
Season 6: Episode 21
Throughout the series, “The Sopranos” balanced episodic storytelling with more sweeping arcs, as Tony made decisions about how to dispatch some of his pesky in-family rivals: his jealous uncle, Junior (Dominic Chianese); his meanspirited mother, Livia (Nancy Marchand); the brooding ex-con Richie Aprile (David Proval); the obnoxious Ralph Cifaretto (Joe Pantoliano); the sad-sack Tony Blundetto (Steve Buscemi); the F.B.I. informants Sal Bonpensiero (Vincent Pastore) and Adriana La Cerva (Drea de Matteo); and even his own judgmental wife, Carmela (Edie Falco). The show’s biggest conflicts were usually resolved by season’s end.
So if you’re going to watch 10 episodes, watch some finales. Make time for “I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano,” the Season 1 finale, when Tony reasserts his power after surviving an assassination attempt. At the time, Chase didn’t know if he would get a second season, so Season 1 comes to a satisfyingly poetic conclusion.
Be sure also to see the Season 4 finale, “Whitecaps,” in which four seasons of marital woes between Tony and Carmela boil over into arguments as gruesome as any mob hit. Carmela is a complicated character who wrestles with the bargain she made when she married Tony, trading complicity with his sins for upper-middle-class comforts. The couple’s barbed back-and-forth in “Whitecaps” is overdue, and harrowing to watch.
Watch some of the pre-finales, too. Although there’s a big murder in the Season 2 finale, “Funhouse,” the more important death happens in the episode before, “The Knight in White Satin Armor,” in which a difficult choice gets taken out of Tony’s hands. Similarly, while the final two episodes of Season 5 feature farewells to two major characters, that season’s penultimate episode, “Long Term Parking,” is the one that really rises to the level of tragedy.
Last, although many fans are still mad about how the series finale, “Made in America,” ends, the episode is as tense and heart-rending an hour as Chase has ever produced. Don’t skip it.
[Read the Times critic James Poniewozik on reframing that notorious ending in 2019.]The days are short, and it’s cold outside. I’ll watch 20.
Season 1: Episodes 1, 5 and 13
Season 2: Episodes 3, 7, 10 and 12
Season 3: Episodes 4, 6 and 11
Season 4: Episodes 5 and 13
Season 5: Episodes 3, 8 and 12
Season 6: Episodes 3, 8, 9, 18 and 21
If you have time to watch 20 episodes, you can fill in some of the key “Sopranos” story lines and character-arcs, or you can finish an entire season. If you’re going the full-season route, do Season 3, which is rich with subplots and personal conflict. Otherwise, spread out, and tackle a few choice episodes from each season.
Season 2 shifts the show’s focus somewhat, examining what happens to the people close to someone as self-centered and temperamental as Tony. In Episode 3, Meadow gives a party in her grandmother’s house, then refuses to take responsibility when her friends trash the place. (Her indignant “I could’ve taken ecstasy but I didn’t!” is a top-tier example of the Sopranos family’s talent for blame-shifting and goalpost-moving.) Also watch Episode 7, in which Christopher finds himself torn between his dreams of being a filmmaker and his commitment to becoming a mafia bigwig.
The best Season 2 episode, though, is Episode 10, “Bust Out,” with its step-by-step depiction of how Tony destroys the life and business of an old friend who owes him a debt. “Bust Out” really gets into the finer points of how Tony and his crew see themselves: as shrewd operators, delivering righteous punishment and life lessons to folks who’ve crossed the wrong line.
The various Ralph Cifaretto story lines of Seasons 3 and 4 come to a head in the Episode 5 of Season 4, “Pie-O-My,” in which Tony falls in love with a racehorse and begins to see Ralphie’s indifference to the animal as an unforgivable moral failing. The Tony Blundetto arc in Season 5 is best-represented by Episodes 3 and 8, which take different angles on how an ex-con struggles to re-enter society and go straight — and how those problems eat at Tony Soprano.
The “roads not taken” for these characters become a major theme in Season 6. In Episode 3, a hospitalized, comatose Tony imagines himself as a nebbishy Middle American salesman on a business trip; meanwhile, in the waking world, Tony’s trusted right-hand man, Silvio Dante (Steven Van Zandt), becomes the acting head of the family and begins to understand why his boss is always in such poor health.
Later, in Episode 8, the closeted gay hit man Vito Spatafore (Joseph R. Gannascoli) goes on the lam to a quaint New Hampshire town, where he pretends to be a writer and wonders if he can avoid his grim fate back home.
As the series winds down — especially after Tony recovers — a sense of wistful “Is this all there is?” melancholy settles over several of the best episodes. In Episode 9 of Season 6, the frequently distracted and shortsighted Paulie cuts costs on an annual festival, with disastrous results. And in Episode 18, (written by Chase and the “Mad Men” creator, Matthew Weiner), Tony faces the realization that Christopher may never get the kind of satisfaction he’s looking for from this life.
Both of these episodes are resonant with one of the show’s dominant emotional notes: the feeling that whatever was holding the world together, it broke irreparably, long ago.Just help me skip the weaker episodes
Skip Season 4: Episode 3
The percentage of good-to-great “Sopranos” episodes is pretty high, so don’t feel as if you have to go out of your way to avoid any. That said, “Christopher,” from Season 4, has been widely — and rightly — derided. Its central story, about Tony’s crew standing up against anti-Columbus Day demonstrations, is both out-of-character and uncharacteristically heavy-handed.
A lot of Season 4 is relatively dreary and unfocused compared to the rest of the series. If you want to be ruthlessly stingy, know that some fans subscribe to an “every odd season” theory, roughly considering the entireties of Seasons 1, 3, 5 and 7 worth watching, with Seasons 2, 4 and 6 being less essential, a few episodes in each.
Again, that’s relatively speaking. For those who can swing it, watching — or rewatching — the whole run from start to finish is still recommended.B:
2017年马会生肖表【刘】【家】【大】【宅】【里】，【刘】【耀】【国】【转】【动】【着】【手】【里】【的】【胡】【桃】，【一】【脸】【的】【冷】【俊】【肃】【穆】，【两】【眼】【盯】【着】【前】【方】【的】【某】【处】，【牙】【关】【死】【死】【的】【咬】【紧】。 【一】【旁】【站】【着】【的】【秘】【书】，【被】【他】【周】【身】【散】【发】【出】【来】【的】【冷】【气】【冻】【得】【僵】【在】【那】，【大】【气】【也】【不】【敢】【出】。 【许】【久】 “【事】【情】【给】【我】【好】【好】【调】【查】【清】【楚】，【这】【事】【早】【已】【平】【息】【了】【呢】，【再】【提】【起】，【怕】【是】【有】【心】【人】【要】【故】【意】【为】【之】，【给】【我】【揪】【出】【来】，【我】【要】【亲】【自】【会】【会】【他】。”【刘】【耀】
“【进】【来】【吧】，【这】【是】【我】【在】【木】【雷】【机】【甲】【决】【斗】【场】【的】【专】【属】【工】【作】【室】”【雷】【利】【带】【着】【夜】【不】【休】，【往】【一】【个】【墙】【壁】【上】【挂】【满】【机】【甲】【零】【件】【的】【通】【道】【走】【去】。 【走】【到】【通】【道】【的】【尽】【头】，【便】【看】【到】【一】【个】【由】【机】【甲】【躯】【干】【打】【造】【的】【全】【机】【甲】【大】【门】，【门】【上】【面】【是】【由】【各】【种】【机】【甲】【螺】【丝】【拼】【接】【成】【的】【招】【牌】：【木】【雷】【工】【作】【室】 【就】【连】【机】【甲】【大】【门】【上】【面】【的】【把】【手】，【都】【是】【用】【机】【甲】【的】【机】【械】【手】【掌】，【焊】【接】【而】【成】【的】，【这】【还】【未】【走】【入】
【在】【冥】【河】【还】【没】【开】【始】【游】【历】【洪】【荒】【的】【时】【候】，【就】【在】【血】【海】【四】【处】【游】【荡】，【他】【最】【终】【发】【现】【了】【盘】【古】【殿】【与】【血】【海】【的】【关】【联】【点】，【通】【过】【那】【个】【关】【联】【点】，【冥】【河】【踏】【入】【了】【盘】【古】【殿】【之】【中】。 【这】【样】【就】【被】【十】【二】【祖】【巫】【集】【火】【打】【跑】。【而】【且】【十】【二】【祖】【巫】【也】【同】【样】【通】【过】【那】【个】【关】【联】【点】，【杀】【戮】【到】【了】【血】【海】【那】【边】【了】。 【双】【方】【彼】【此】【因】【为】【打】【斗】【而】【互】【有】【往】【来】，【大】【家】【彼】【此】【都】【比】【较】【熟】【悉】【了】。 【所】【以】，【冥】【河】【在】2017年马会生肖表【第】【二】【百】【八】【十】【六】【章】 【张】【睿】【看】【着】【石】【碑】【上】【的】【名】【字】，【好】【像】【魔】【障】【一】【样】，【脚】【步】【不】【由】【自】【主】【的】【向】【前】【迈】【出】，【突】【然】【脚】【下】【失】【重】，【跌】【下】【了】【水】【池】。 “【扑】【通】”【一】【声】，【张】【睿】【掉】【入】【了】【水】【中】，【无】【论】【张】【睿】【如】【何】【的】【挣】【扎】【也】【无】【济】【于】【事】，【迅】【速】【的】【往】【水】【底】【沉】【去】，【意】【志】【模】【糊】，【昏】【迷】【了】【过】【去】。 【真】【是】【不】【敢】【想】【象】，***【竟】【然】【在】【水】【中】【昏】【迷】【了】。 【也】【不】【知】【过】【了】【多】【久】，【张】【睿】
【之】【后】【苏】【天】【阳】【更】【是】【对】【着】【通】【北】【的】【一】【干】【人】【马】【说】【了】【诸】【多】【话】【语】，【大】【半】【都】【是】【官】【话】，【试】【图】【缓】【解】【一】【番】【彼】【此】【之】【间】【的】【关】【系】，【然】【后】【又】【是】【说】【了】【一】【些】【七】【七】【八】【八】【的】【许】【诺】，【也】【不】【知】【道】【是】【真】【是】【假】，【说】【的】【那】【是】【一】【个】【天】【花】【乱】【坠】。 【瞧】【见】【堂】【堂】【的】【苏】【殿】【王】【都】【这】【样】【了】，【众】【人】【心】【中】【的】【怨】【恨】【虽】【重】，【可】【眼】【下】【的】【局】【势】【谁】【也】【做】【不】【了】【主】，【为】【了】【大】【局】，【也】【只】【能】【应】【和】【下】【来】【了】。 【与】【此】【同】
【轰】【隆】【一】【声】，【整】【个】【斯】【台】【普】【斯】【中】【心】【都】【在】【摇】【晃】。 “【好】【厉】【害】【的】【炸】【药】！”【克】【雷】【西】【心】【中】【暗】【惊】。 【乔】【治】·【邓】【迪】【对】【着】【镜】【头】【道】：“【现】【在】，【你】【的】【人】【没】【了】。” 【斯】【台】【普】【斯】【中】【心】【下】【方】，【加】【里】【森】【所】【在】【的】【地】【下】【廊】【道】【整】【个】【塌】【陷】【下】【来】，【里】【面】【不】【可】【能】【还】【有】【人】【能】【够】【存】【活】。 【作】【战】【会】【议】【室】【安】【静】【了】【下】【来】，【五】【星】【上】【将】【一】【屁】（【和】【谐】）【股】【坐】【回】【了】【椅】【子】【上】，【面】【色】【苍】【白】