There’s absolutely no doubt that The Sopranos is one of the greatest television shows of all time. The story tells of James Gandolfini’s mob boss, Tony Soprano, as he attempts to navigate balancing his problematic personal life with his role as the head of a notorious New Jersey crime family.
Soprano details both sides of his life experience in regular sessions with his therapist, Jennifer Melfi, who is played brilliantly by Lorraine Bracco. Quite simply, The Sopranos was a show unlike any other, mixing drama and tragedy with shy moments of comedy and plenty of criminal violence and action.
During a feature with The Guardian, Steve Shirripa and Michael Imperioli, who played Bobby Baccalieri and Christopher Moltisanti, respectively, discussed their favourite episodes from the legendary TV show, giving their reasons why they thought they were so important amongst the many classic moments.
Schirripa kicked things off with a mention of ‘College’, which he claims put “the show on the map”. “It was quite amazing: here’s this guy Tony Soprano – he’s balding, he’s overweight, and he just murdered someone while taking his kid to college,” he said. “This was a lead actor, for maybe one of the first times or ever on TV, killing someone in cold blood. So that certainly is not your ordinary TV show.”
Imperioli then followed up by discussing ‘The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti’ from “a selfish point of view” as it was the episode in which the actor realised Christopher was going to be “a main figure in the show”.
“I think they were some of the best scenes I got to do in the show,” he said. “A defining episode for the character, and I just really enjoyed it.”
Elsewhere for Shirripa, we find love for ‘Pine Barrens’, which sees Christopher and Paulie stranded in a car in a freezing cold forest, with the actor noting, “I love this episode, as everyone else did. One of the best hours in the history of TV and a very funny episode. When you’re doing The Sopranos, you’re playing it straight, like a drama. It’s just the writing and the circumstances they put you in that makes it funny.”
Another of Imperioli’s favourites sees Christopher in the midst of his serious heroin addiction and says that those who also suffered from the affliction “appreciated” the episode. “There’s something very lyrical and beautiful about it and weird,” he said. “That’s a really big one for Christopher. His addiction really starts in season one and then progresses. He was dabbling and always into coke. But heroin has become a bigger and bigger issue. I think we portrayed addiction very honestly in the show.”
The two also pick out episodes in which Richie Aprile (“the scariest character”) makes his first appearance, Vincent Pastore’s Big Pussy is killed, the first and last episodes Imperioli wrote, an “intimate” assessment of the breakdown of Tony and Carmela’s relationship and a fight scene between Tony and Bobby.
Check out the complete list of both Michael Imperioli and Steve Shirripa’s favourite episodes of The Sopranos below.
Michael Imperioli and Steve Shirripa’s favourite episodes:
- ‘College’ (Season 1, Episode 5)
- ‘The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti’ (Season 1, Episode 8)
- ‘Toodle-Fucking-Oo’ (Season 2, Episode 3)
- ‘Fun House’ (Season 2, Episode 13)
- ‘From Here to Eternity’ (Season 2, Episode 9)
- ‘Pine Barrens’ (Season 3, Episode 11)
- ‘Whitecaps’ (Season 4, Episode 13)
- ‘Marco Polo’ (Season 5, Episode 8)
- ‘The Ride’ (Season 6, Episode 9)
- ‘Home Movies’ (Season 6, Episode 13)