The Sopranos – 100 Greatest Moments: 20-11

20. Failed Hit

Episode: Isabella (SE1, EP12)
Characters: Tony and two hitmen

Although you know Tony will survive – what would The Sopranos be without T after all? – this attempt on his life is still a very tense affair. Luckily these ‘Boyz II Men’ sent by Junior and Mikey Palmice screw it up big-time. Tony not only survives, the huge adrenaline level raised by this experience takes him right out of his depression. Also look out for The Godfather reference. Tony is carrying a bottle of orange juice. Don Corleone was buying oranges when hitmen came to gun him down.

19. My Uncle Tony

Episode: Long Term Parking (SE5, EP12)
Characters: Christopher and Adriana

Christopher is getting increasingly frustrated with Tony. The lines he delivers here are pure poetry. “That’s the guy, Adriana. My uncle Tony. The guy I’m going to hell for.” If only he had put that in his movie script. Speaking of which…

18. Premiere Night

Episode: Stage 5 (SE6, EP14)
Characters: The whole family

The premiere of Cleaver is one hell of a great party. The movie is really funny for one thing. Daniel Baldwin delivers a terrific Tony performance (“what, you’re gonna argue with me now?”). Then there is the basement, the bathrobe, the cleaver which reminds of Chrissy’s first pork store kill… It’s all there… Off screen, hilarious things are happening as well; Paulie’s phone call, Carmine’s speech, the director’s lack of speech, Phil Leotardo’s comments (“hot and sticky, like my balls”). This really is a postmodern masterpiece.

17. All in the Family

Episode: The Knight in White Satin Armor (SE2, EP12)
Characters: Janice and Richie

The ink on the contract that Tony put out on Richie isn’t dry yet, or he gets popped by his own fiancé. Hitting a Soprano is never a smart play, Richie discovers. As it turns out, Janice is a cold blooded murderer like her brother. This is one of the greatest surprises that The Sopranos has to offer. The build-up is perfect; the gun they use for sex, Richie’s gay son to fight over, the problems between Richie and Tony… it all leads to this moment; the death of troublemaker Richie. All Janice has to do now is get rid of the body, but having a brother high-up in the mob has its perks…

16. 16 Czechoslovakians

Episode: Pine Barrens (SE3, EP11)
Characters: Paulie, Christopher and Tony

The episode ‘Pine Barrens’, in which Paulie and Christopher are lost in the woods with a Russian commando walking around who they failed to kill, is pure comic gold. In this scene Tony warns them over the phone; “The guy you’re looking for is an ex-commando! He killed sixteen Chechen rebels single-handed! He was with the Interior Ministry. Guy’s like a Russian green beret.” Paulie hangs up and tells the story to Chris; “You’re not gonna believe this. He killed sixteen Czechoslovakians. Guy was an interior decorator.” Christopher: “His house looked like shit.” Brilliant dialogues! The Czechoslovakian remark also touches on Christopher’s first murder, the Czechoslovakian Emil Kolar.

15. Desperate Hours

Episode: Long Term Parking (SE5, EP12)
Characters: Christopher and Adriana

Feeling she has no options left, Adriana tells Christopher about the FBI. He first responds with furious rage; he almost kills her with his bare hands. Then, he is devastated and considers leaving for a while. The scene is one of the most intense in the series and features powerhouse acting by Michael Imperioli and Drea de Matteo.

14. Are You in the Mafia?

Episode: College (SE1, EP5)
Characters: Tony and Meadow

The now already famous question asked by Meadow is answered with some sincerity by Tony. Of course he lies at first, but then he tells her that some of his money comes from illegal gambling. They have that kind of relationship, Meadow stresses. One of the first and finest moments in which Tony’s Mafia and family life cross each other.

13. Running Gag

Episode: I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano (SE1, EP13)
Characters: Christopher, Paulie and Mikey Palmice

The first season’s bad guy Mikey Palmice gets whacked in this scene by killers Christopher and Paulie. For a second it appears that he is going to escape when he runs into the forest, but Christopher is a wickedly fast runner and catches up with him and puts one in his leg. Then Mikey begs for his life before Paulie and Chris pump him full of lead. A lesson from Coppola: It is important to add a detail to a murder scene to make it memorable. In this scene, Poison Ivy does the trick. Paulie runs into some bushes of the stuff and immediately can feel it itching on him. This gives him all the more reason to whack Mikey, while Christopher already has a personal reason for the kill: “You shot Brendan Filone in his bathtub naked, no chance to run!”
“No”, Mikey replies, “it was Junior.”
Christopher: “Yeah right it was Junior. Mr Magoo!”
Paulie: “I can feel it itching on me already”. BLEM! BLEM! BLEM! BLEM! Goodbye Mr. Palmice. Quite satisfying indeed.

12. Non Judgemental Confrontation

Episode: The Strong Silent Type (SE4, EP10)
Characters: Christopher, Dominic Palladino, Silvio, Paulie, Benny Fazio, Furio, Carmela, Tony, Adriana and Joanne Moltisanti

Christopher’s intervention is a comical highlight in the series. How are these guys gonna be non-judgemental? Paulie, Silvio and Tony’s sharings are all funny enough to piss your pants. When Christopher starts to talk back, things get even more hysterical. If your intervention ends with a fractured skull, you know you have a couple of great friends.

11. When Your Number is Up

Episode: Funhouse (SE2, EP13)
Characters: Pussy, Angie, Tony and Silvio

Tony had a revealing dream about Pussy, so he goes to see him. Pussy instantly knows, the minute he hears Tony. This is it. Tony found out. There are too much coincidences; Tony out of bed while having food poisoning; wanting to take a boat ride; having a diarrhea attack while upstairs; Silvio requesting coffee downstairs… Pussy has been in the Mafia, he knows the tricks they use when they want to whack somebody. Of course part of him is in denial; maybe they don’t know shit, but upstairs Tony is finding the final piece of evidence he needs. This is it for Pussy.