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"The Sopranos: Down Neck (#1.7)"
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Reviews & Ratings for
"The Sopranos" Down Neck (1999)

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20 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Painful memories

10/10
Author: Max_cinefilo89 from Italy
26 February 2008

"As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.". It's hard not to think of that classic line from Goodfellas when Tony Soprano starts recounting childhood memories to Dr. Melfi: unlike Herny Hill, the New Jersey boss's ambitions were entirely different, but fate decided to intervene.

The source of this reminiscing is a family problem: after being caught drunk in class (he and his friends stole some church wine), A.J. faces expulsion from school, and is punished by his parents by being forced to spend time with his grandmother every afternoon. While discussing the matter with his therapist, Tony recalls his own upbringing: Livia being a huger pain in the ass then than she is now, his dad and Uncle Junior going out regularly to collect money from people, and the old man getting arrested one nice day while having fun at a carnival.

Aside from exposing the parallels between father and son, Down Neck serves another important purpose: to show Livia's firm and authoritarian personality, which will reemerge in later episodes to shocking effect. But this story is also riveting for how it deals with an old stereotype (you join the mafia 'cause you were born into it) without pandering to conventions: Tony may have had it in his DNA (though he concedes in another episode that perhaps he was too lazy to seek a different occupation), but the look on his face when he sees who his father really is indicates everything but happiness or pride. Then again, he might have reconsidered when he learned how much you can earn...

Exceptional

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Down Neck (#1.7)

9/10
Author: ComedyFan2010 from Canada
27 February 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Anthony is expelled from school for getting drunk with his friends and is also tested for ADD. Tony talks to Dr. Melfi about his childhood and how he compares it to his son. He remembers finding out that his father was a criminal, the events that lead to it, his mothers reaction and how he was proud of it.

Really liked this episode as it goes deeper into the family history. We get to see the strong influence Livia Soprano had,as Tony said if she was born after the feminists she would have been a real gangster. Also it is interesting what he told Dr. Melfi, is he opening up more and more about who he really is? And it was interesting to hear the dialogue on the difference between being predisposed to something and destiny.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

"He's got a lot on his mind."

Author: edantheman from United Kingdom
13 September 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

#'You're papa never told you about right and wrong...' These lyrics to the opening theme bear a special significance this time 'round, with Tony retreating into a nostalgic (and quite lengthy) haze in Dr Melfi's room to the times when he was roughly the same age as his son: his father chasing down debtors and "having coffee" with them as the man/boy himself might say; his mother being possibly even more dramatic and authoritative than she is now; his sister Janice introduced as a typical big sister; Barbara looking a little chubbier and shorter.

The episode's retreat in time is partly brought about by AJ's bad behaviour at school and deals with Tony's actual father instead of paternal figures like Junior and in a way, Jackie. It turns out 'Johnny Boy' Soprano tells lies to protect the people he loves (including himself) just as Tony does, as well as taking a lot of Livia's black poison in but seems less aggressive and more of a family man (although he did have a comare as we will later discover).

T reminisces of how his mother excused his father's crimes by indicating ethnic prejudice on behalf of the Newark Police Department ("They just pick on the Italians"). That's not the only seed she sows in his mind though, when she dramatically implies smothering her children with a pillow as a favourable alternative to Johnny Boy's pipe-dream of setting up a supper club with pal Rocco DiMeo in Nevada. In the present, Tony confronts his mother on this issue; asking her why she offered no support to his unusually ambitious father. She replies with verbal blackmail ("Well, if it bothers you, maybe you better talk to a psychiatrist") after learning the truth from AJ, which he counters by remarking on her ruthlessness ("If you'd been born after those feminists, you woulda been the real gangster").

This was the first 'flashback episode', in which the flashback is triggered by Tony recalling Jefferson Airplane's 'White Rabbit' while he pops his pills in the bathroom mirror. In later seasons these triggers will range from the taste of capicola to the movie 'Beethoven' on TV. This time it is music, but I can't help but feel Jefferson Airplane's other famous track 'Somebody to Love' may have fit just as well.

Tony's antipathy and support for psychiatry are balanced out in this story as his son's fidgeting habit is labelled a symptom of ADD by the school shrink, while at the same time he has one of his best ever appointments with Dr Melfi. In the end, his support beats his antipathy and he chooses to go back to the psychiatrist's after mulling it over with Carmela back home, although his secret won't be safe for long...

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

S1E7 'Down Neck'

Author: The-Social-Introvert
20 October 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The lyrics "Your papa never told you about right or wrong" are of greater relevance in Down Neck, as Tony retreats into a good couple of interesting flashbacks whilst in Dr Melfi's office. They go back to the times when he was about the same age as his son, and used to watch his dad chase down debt collectors and fall victim of an even more dramatic Livia.

The flashbacks are quite interesting. It's funny seeing Junior when he was in his prime and intriguing to see Tony's parents and his relationship with them. He always felt that his dad showed favouritism to Tony's older sister since they used to go out to the fair regularly. That is until Jonny Boy Soprano is escorted out of the fair in cuffs, and Tony realises the whole thing was a front, and the hoodlums brought their daughters along to cover up their illegal activities that were done at the fairground. We see that Jonny Boy told lies to protect his family and also had to take stick from Livia (in one case, was 'persuaded' by his wife out of a move that would have made the family very rich).

Tony's reminiscent are brought about due to his own son's behaviour at school being questioned by the school staff. It leads to thoughts that Anthony may be ADD (which is just some money-making "bullshit" for the psychiatrics, Tony thinks) which in turn makes Tony evaluate his role as a father by assessing what it was like when he was a son. He remembers how his mother covered up Jonny Boy's crimes by blaming prejudices from the authorities and how she his father back from success. Tony later confronts her about why she never gave his father any support and Livia, who had previously spoken with Anthony Jr after their sub plots intertwined, very cleverly replies with verbal blackmail. "If it bothers you, maybe you better talk to a psychiatrist". Highlighting the fantastic dialogue in this series, Tony counters this by retorting "If you'd been born after those feminists, you woulda been the real gangster".

Tony's opinions on his father's 'work' leaves him slightly confused. He remembers being proud that he had a gangster for a dad but at the same time wonders what it was like if Jonny Boy had been just like any other father. That means he ponders on what life outside the mafia could have been like. And that kind of talk is dangerous. Which just goes to show just how much he has opened up to Dr Melfi. The episode deals with the old stereotype that you join the mafia because you were born into it. Tony considers whether it was just in his DNA, and if it is then fears his son may turn out like him and opposed to simply looking up to him as a father.

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