The series became subtler in its themes after the pilot, but the episode that started it all does a fine job establishing the show's premise, themes and cinematic look. After having a panic talkbrought on by job stress, but more so by the demands of family and his toxic mother Liviathe mob boss begins seeing a therapist on the down-low. Grousing to Dr. Melfi in his first sessions, Tony lays out the generational complaints that will inform the whole series and make the mobster's problems universal: that he can't balance his family and work lives, that he feels he's come of age after the best times of his business have past and that men have abandoned the "Gary Cooper" standard of strong silence (a model Tony's not able to live up to anyway). The show's richest days are ahead, but The Sopranos starts off with a bang.
(Written and directed by David Chase)