The Sopranos S2E3: “Toodle-Fucking-Oo”

“Richie Aprile, the Junkyard Dog”

By Colin Hart

9.0 / 10

Season two of The Sopranos starts off slow in terms of plot development, yet it’s tightly structured and exhilarating in terms of character development. Now, I know that might sound boring, but hear me out.

I talk about character development being key in this “slow” start to season two because the characters are so compelling to watch. Even though they spend most of their time just arguing with each other, the conversations are completely genuine. So what if nothing happens? The dialogue is top-notch, and the acting is top-rate.

Most of all, the humor shines through. When The Sopranos isn’t busy running over someone’s legs, or smashing a coffee pot over someone’s head, the series can honestly be looked at as a comedy.  An agitated Tony Soprano is the funniest Tony Soprano, and there’s plenty of darkly comic dialogue throughout this early portion of season two. 

Then again, even when this show is running over someone’s legs, or smashing a coffee pot over their head, the blackest of comedy is still there.



And for those of you who favor plot development, you’re in luck! “Toodle-Fucking-Oo” introduces us to Richie Aprile, the brother of deceased former-boss Jackie, fresh out of a 10-year stint in prison. Played by David Proval in a performance of Al Pacino-like intensity, Richie means business right from the get go. One of the first things we hear him say is a sinister, singular utterance of “motherfucker.”

It’s clear that Richie is a sadistic sonofabitch, and naturally, he’s the one responsible for the aforementioned driving-over-the-legs and coffee-pot-over-the-head beatdowns — one of which occurs just minutes after we meet him, both of which occur to the same victim. Poor Beansie.

Richie is a misplaced relic from a bygone era. After 10 years in the can, he finds it hard to adjust to new doctrines. You can already tell that he’s going to be trouble for everyone involved. And to blur the lines of family and Family even further, Richie strikes up a romance with Janice, an old flame from yesteryear. They get reacquainted at a yoga class.

Richie, trying to convince Janice that he’s changed: “Did you ever think you’d see Richie Aprile doing downward facing dog?”



Richie Aprile will be the main antagonist moving forward, yet his brash introduction doesn’t impede upon the rest of the episode. Even though his constant aggression provides a much-needed jolt of energy, the episode moves by at a leisurely pace, as matter-of-fact a moment as when Big Pussy was revealed to be an FBI informant.

Elsewhere, we have several humorous subplots that fall into “nothing happens” territory. In the Soprano household, Meadow gets in trouble for throwing a party at Livia’s abandoned house, which gives Tony and Carmela the opportunity to show off their terrible parenting skills. It also goes to show how much of a brat Meadow truly is.

Meanwhile, Dr. Melfi runs into Tony at a restaurant. Their conversation is awkward, full of stilted small-talk and miscommunication. She ends the encounter with a girlish “toodle-oo,” which causes her to experience conflicted emotions about her former patient. On the one hand, she feels extremely guilty for refusing to take him back. Then again, she dreams about Tony having a panic attack while driving. All the while, “Optimistic Voices” from The Wizard of Oz plays in the background, possibly expressing her subconscious desire to be rid of Mr. Soprano forever: “You’re out of the woods/You’re out of the dark/You’re out of the night”

As inconsequential as these storylines might appear, they remain compelling because each scene is delivered with brilliant comedy. Carmela vs. Janice, Meadow vs. bad parenting, Richie Aprile vs. the world — it all goes to show that a premium drama doesn’t need to be overly serious to be considered prestige.

Even though the episode’s ending is more of a formal shrug than a poignant send-off — welp, whatever, life goes on — “Toodle-Fucking-Oo” is an early-season installment that is as solid as the title.

STRAY ROUNDS

  • Dr. Melfi gets to evaluate her feelings about Tony at her own therapy session. Her psychiatrist, Dr. Elliot Kupferberg, suggests she was trying to hide herself from Tony by adopting a new persona, hence “toodle-oo.” These scenes offer plenty of insight into Melfi’s character, while also providing a clever meta-narrative about a therapist going to therapy.
  • Even though Melfi’s dream seemingly comes out of nowhere, I don’t think the writers are trying to trick us with the scene of Tony’s crash. Due to the slightly surreal atmosphere (pouring rain, Wizard of Oz music, etc.), it’s pretty clear that this is a dream sequence from the start. Nevertheless, it’s definitely among the least memorable in the show’s entire run.
  • Can we talk about Dr. Kupferberg’s extremely massive, alien-looking water bottle? It steals the entire scene.
  • Can we also talk about how Meadow is now more unlikeable than AJ? I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt, in part because her annoying friend, Hunter Skankarelo, is back, but it’s crazy how much of a brat she’s become since “College.”
  • Despite Tony and Carmela’s lack of discipline, Meadow takes it upon herself to clean Livia’s house at the end of the episode. Maybe she does possess some semblance of diligence after all.
  • One of the funniest aspects of the episode is how it subtly implies that Richie might be bisexual. He was in prison for ten years, after all. A post-yoga exchange between him and Janice: “Out of jail? One week. That’s why I picked up this yoga shit.” “It’s working for you. You seem very supple.” “I do a lot of stretching …”
  • Another one, when Richie goes to visit Uncle Junior: “Put a shirt on. You’re giving me a chubby.
  • Janice is briefly heard listening to free-jazz musician Pharoah Sanders while pulling her car into the driveway. Its usage here was hilarious, catching Sanders in a particularly freaky, out-of-context moment.
  • Performing at the Bing is the same terrible stand-up comedian who performed at Green Grove in “The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti.” Once again, his jokes are painfully unfunny. He’s probably the worst character in the entire series, even more insufferable than Hunter.
  • “Toodle-Fucking-Oo” was written by Frank Renzulli, and directed by Lee Tamahori. Tamahori is most famous for directing the 2002 James Bond film, Die Another Day.

FAMOUS LAST WORDS

  • “Anthony Jr. get your little ass up those stairs!”
  • “I could have taken ecstasy but I didn’t!”
  • “What’s mine is not yours to give me.”
  • “Fucking bum hip. What else does the man upstairs have in store for me?”

2 thoughts on “The Sopranos S2E3: “Toodle-Fucking-Oo”

  1. So I just saw this episode and like the rest of the show so far, loved it. However, Regarding Richie Aprile’s acts Of violence in this episode, as well as previous acts on the show, one thing that strains my suspension of disbelief is how none of the characters have gotten arrested yet. Yeah, it was established that the guy Richie paralyzed won’t rat, but Richie assaulted him in his restaurant in front a crowd of people and later, shot an unsilenced gun In the air and yet no one bothers to report it. I get that people may have been more apathetic back in that timeline but come on.

    I still loved the episode though and your reviews as well. Can’t wait for your next post!

    Like

    1. Haha yeah that’s the one thing that is so unrealistic on such an otherwise realistic and gritty show. Don’t know if creator David Chase is trying to make a point about the broken justice system (which he does in later episodes), or just because it’s far more entertaining if the characters can do this without consequences.

      Thanks for reading! Been lagging a bit lately, but hoping to get back in to Season 3 this week.

      Like

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