Tony is referred to here as "the boss" as well as "the Don of New Jersey". Yet in the next episode, new character Jackie Aprile is the (acting) boss and Tony is only one of many crew captains, or a capo, though he is considered the heir apparent.
James Gandolfini's voice is distinctly different in this first episode than it would be in future ones. After this episode, Gandolfini used a dialect coach to sound more like a mobster from Newark, New Jersey.
From the very first episode that features Tony Soprano's compassionate fixation with ducks to the final episode that partly deals with Paulie's superstitious fear of cats, the symbolism of pets and animals in the series is a frequent motif.
In this episode, the pork store used as the mob's hangout is named Centanni's Meat Market, an actual butcher shop in Elizabeth, New Jersey. But producers soon after found an abandoned location in Kearny, NJ, converted it into the fictional Satriale's Pork Store, and used that site throughout the rest of the series. But mistakenly--or indifferently--a quick image of Satriale's, not Centanni's, is included in this pilot's opening montage, as it also would be for the next eight years of the "Sopranos".
While Tony and Livia are visiting the nursing home, a group of elderly people is shown watching The Rockford Files (1974) on TV. Creator David Chase got his big break in television as a writer and producer on that show.
Drea de Matteo appears as an unnamed 'hostess'. She was only intended to appear in that one scene, but David Chase liked de Matteo's performance so much he decided to expand her role. In the second episode, she suddenly appears as Christopher's girlfriend, Adriana La Cerva.
The role of Uncle Junior, played by Dominic Chianese, almost went to Robert Loggia who had been seriously considered for it. Loggia would appear later in four episodes of the series as Michele "Feech" La Manna. Chianese is also the show's only cast member who had played a featured role in The Godfather: Part II (1974), as Johnny Ola.
As the show's creator and executive producer David Chase is also given a writer's credit for every one of the "Sopranos"'s 86 episodes. Chase also directed two of these episodes: this original pilot and the the highly controversial series finale over eight years later.
The opening shot of the first scene in Dr. Melfi's waiting room shows Tony triangularly framed by the legs of a sculpture of a naked woman. In the Season 3 episode "Second Opinion", this exact framing is replicated, this time with Tony's wife, Carmela seen through the legs of the statue.