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Favourite Scenes from The Sopranos

Apropos of nothing other than finally getting round to making a playlist of 120 songs from The Sopranos, here is a list of my personal favourite scenes.

Starting with one of the darkest dark comedy moments;

In the back room of a strip club, a crisis meeting is underway. It’s like a more exciting COBRA meeting with fat blokes in tracksuits playing cards with a room full of strippers just next door. Panic is setting in as Vito Spatafore has been missing for days and rumours are circulating that it’s because he’s a fanuq, “an ass muncher”, “a fag”. Opinions are split with some being more welcoming given the day and age they live in but, mostly, the majority of the other captains want him gone. Tony doesn’t want to be hasty though. Besides feeling uncomfortable with the pre-historic attitudes of the majority of his friends in the room (those hateful words previous are theirs, not mine, just to be clear), Tony “doesn’t want to condemn the guy just on the word of some douchebag from Yonkers”. But that is most probably because he makes him a lot of money.

As usual, Paulie is part of the ultimate punchline, massive shout to Tony Sirico’s comic timing;

Carlo [justifying his strong attitude to see Vito clipped]: Think about it, Ton’. The sudden weight loss…

[PAUSE]

Paulie: AIDS?!

Tony: NOBODY’S GOT AIDS! And I wont hear it mentioned again!

It is at least the sixth time I’ve watched this episode, I’m a fully fledged, unashamed Sopranos nerd. I can sit and discuss it all day, if you want, and will argue that it is simply, hands down, the best drama ever put on film. It shits all over The Wire and Breaking Bad, or whatever else you want to compare it against.

But, there is little left to say that hasn’t already been covered.

So here are five of my favourite scenes. If all that doesn't persuade you to start watching (or re-watching) from the beginning, I can’t help you any further. You have to watch this show. If you have seen it once, watch it again. Immerse yourself. Second, third and fourth viewings shed light on previously hidden plot lines and clues that show a patience and trust in one’s audience very rarely shown by those who usually make our T.V. programmes. 

Enjoy.

Add your favourite scenes in the comments below.

THE SCENES:

  1. ’Join The Club’ s6e2. Carmella’s Monologue by Tony’s bedside.

At this point, Tony (James Gandolfini) is in a coma after being shot by his dementia suffering Uncle Junior, played superbly by Dominic Chianese. In many ways, this episode typifies the show as a whole, with both of Tony’s families becoming completely entwined and putting each other under stresses which serve to highlight what Tony has to deal with on a day by day basis. From Paulie and Vito holding back on paying their tribute from a big heist until it is certain Tony is going to pull through his coma, to A.J. failing miserably to support his family at such a tough time and deciding now is a good time to come clean about dropping out of college.

What makes this episode stand out though is Edie Falco’s performance as the doting mob wife, Carmella. Calling her a Mob Wife evokes ideas of some naff programme on Living or E!, and that would only serve to belittle such an impressive showing from a criminally under rated actress, who deserves more than the cult recognition and fame she currently receives. Anyone who has been unfortunate enough to suffer prolonged periods of visiting suffering love ones in hospital will undoubtedly resonate with what Carmella is going through. Falco presents it so perfectly. The scene when she finally loses all her composure and breaks down into love torn nostalgic monologue beside a comatose Tony is beautiful. In later scenes, after observing the behaviour of her husband’s associates, she warns Tony who not to trust, cementing her place as a brilliantly rounded character - intensely filling the show with pathos on the one hand, and reminding us that we can trust no one but those we love on the other. And that is why this is the greatest show ever.

2. ‘Made In America’ s6e21. Tony’s Final Words to Uncle Junior.

The fact that Chianese’s character, Corrado ‘Junior’ Soprano, attempted to murder the show’s protagonist - also his nephew - in a highly paranoid, demented state of mind depicts the layers and layers of intricate storytelling that David Chase has brought to the table with this show. Tony and Junior’s story also runs from the first episode to the last and ‘Made In America’, being the final show, has these two central characters’ plot lines reaching a suitably troubled ending. Matching their history throughout the show, riddled with love and war in equal measures, the final scene between these two sees Tony attempting to finally make peace with his decrepit Uncle before he passes on. In the end, we see, he has already gone though and it is up to Tony to remind him that he used to run all of North Jersey.

“That’s nice.”

3. ‘Pine Barrens’ s3e11. A Walk In The Woods With Paulie and Chris.

As alluded to, before I got all nerdy and emotional about Edie Falco and elderly relatives suffering from dementia, The Sopranos is just as full of dark humour and brilliant punchlines as it is with melodrama and tension. These moments of comic relief, invariably, involve either Paulie or Christoper (Michael Imperioli) - put them together, as in Pine Barrens, and you’re guaranteed to be laughing.

A routine collection has gone south and, following an escalation of violence quicker than a night out in Kiev, Chris and Paulie end up chasing an ex-Russian Special Forces Commando/Interior Decorator through a blizzard ridden forest somewhere on the Apalachian Trail.

4. ‘Whitecaps’ s4e13. Carmella Throws Tony Out.

Another family one this. Tony’s, ahem, “extra curricular activities” finally bring his marriage to breaking point. It is the story lines like this one that add the richness and viability to the show, so this one is in here to represent all the real shit we see this mob boss going through, just like the rest of us.

That and the fact that it is so well written and performed. Well played all involved.

5. ‘The Weight’ s4e4. Carmine Lupertazzi Orders A Hit On His Underboss.

And lastly, because it probably wouldn’t be right not to have something touching on organised crime in this inconclusive, haphazardly thrown together list, is a scene which shows the fine lines between life and death which gangsters and Goodfellas walk between each and every day. Probably.

Anyway, Carmine (the late Tony Lip) is cryptically telling Tony to take out his (Carmine’s) under boss and long standing friend of Tony, Johnny Sack, over a dispute originating from one of Tony’s captains making a joke about a 300 pound mole being removed from Sack’s wife’s ass. Like I say, fine margins between life and death, innit?

What the clip doesn’t include, rather stupidly, is Tony’s quality reaction of “Oh, shit!”