Tony has issues with a cop, and Bobby Sr. gets the job done -- at a price, says Bruce Fretts

By Bruce Fretts
Updated March 29, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST
Sopranos: Barry Wetcher

Carmela strikes back on ”The Sopranos”

With a screw you attitude worthy of Tony Soprano himself, HBO aired a new episode of ”The Sopranos” opposite the Oscars — a factor that could have contributed to the awards ceremony’s startlingly low ratings. And why not? The Mob saga packs more thrills than a certain Best Picture winning sword and sandal epic. In a niftily timed inside joke, wiseguy Ralph (Joe Pantoliano) sang the praises of the ”Gladiator” DVD in one scene (”It’s like the chariots are going through your f—–g house”).

If you missed the episode, fear not: HBO will rerun it numerous times this week. But if you can’t wait to hear what happened, read on:

COUPLES THERAPY, PT. 1 Carmela and Tony met with Dr. Melfi. Lorraine Bracco’s shrink didn’t tell Tony about her rape, perhaps because his wife accompanied him to his session. It was an awkward encounter, with Carm criticizing the doc’s treatment of Tony (”You’ve been coming here three years, you still pass out on a regular basis!”) and getting defensive about the implication she might be causing him stress. She suggested to her spouse that the real reason for his spells could be because ”you’ll stick your d— in anything with a pulse.” Point taken.

SPEED TRAP Tony got pulled over for speeding: A zealous African American cop (Charles S. Dutton) gave the leadfooted don a ticket, then got demoted after Tony complained to corrupt Assemblyman Zellman (Peter Riegert, whose short ”By Courier” lost at the Oscars). The subplot subtly explored Tony’s racism, as he swung between feelings of guilt and anger, particularly after daughter Meadow’s bike was supposedly stolen by an African American.

HIT MAN R.I.P. Bobby ”Bacala” Sr. Burt Young (”Rocky”) scored as the phlegmatic father of Bobby ”Bacala” (Steven R. Schirripa), Uncle Junior’s supersize right hand man. Tony asked the barely breathing oldfella to whack his own godson, Mustang Sally (Brian Tarantina), a hothead who had put an innocent construction worker into a coma during a jealous rage. Bobby Sr. did the job (in an electrifyingly gruesome scene) but dropped his inhaler while driving home and died in a car crash.

STOMACH BUG Uncle Junior’s got ”the big casino.” Dominic Chianese’s grumpy geezer seemed overly concerned with Bobby Sr.’s lung cancer, and we soon learned why: He’s suffering from stomach cancer and will undergo surgery in two weeks. He swore his nephew to silence, but Tony immediately confided in his now born again sister, Janice (Aida Turturro). So much for omerta.

COUPLES THERAPY, PT. 2 Artie Bucco’s having a midlife crisis. When Christopher (Michael Imperioli) forced fiancée Adrianna (Drea de Matteo) to resign as Vesuvio’s hostess, owner Artie (John Ventimiglia) hit the sauce and picked a fight with the newly made man. He confessed to Tony that he loves Adrianna, and after Artie announced plans to start a food business with Tony, his wife, Charmaine (Kathrine Narducci), left him. Then he got fresh with Adrianna over dinner. In other words, his goose is cooked.

Oh, and Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) took the F.B.I. bugged lamp from the family’s basement back to her dorm room. Now aren’t you sorry you watched Yo-Yo Ma instead?