By EdHIll|Tuesday, April 25, 2006 | 8:43 pm | 20 Comments
As far as this weeks Sopranos goes I have good news and bad news. The bad news is the Vito storyline that everyone has gotten so wrapped up in this season is nowhere to be found. In fact Vito doesn’t even make an appearance. Instead the main focus of the episode is that lifelong loser Artie Bucco, the owner of the local Italian restaurant that is the hangout of Tony and his crew.
The good news however is the subplot, featuring Christopher flying off to Hollywood to take a meeting with Sir Ben Kingsley, is some of the best stuff I’ve seen all year. In fact it created one of the greatest moments in the history of the show in my humble opinion. Not since Paulie Walnuts told Christopher to “Stop being c*nty” when they were lost in the woods in season 3 have I laughed so hard. What was it that had me in tears of joy? Lauren Bacall getting cold-cocked right in the face. And if there’s one thing 12 years of marriage to Humphrey Bogart taught her, it’s how to take a punch.
The show starts with Christopher’s heroin thug meeting up with the Italian outsourced whackers they are bringing in to whack Rusty, a member of Johnny Sacks crew. Meanwhile the two crews from Jersey and NY are having a nice dinner at Nuovo Vesuvio to honor something or other. Who knows. It’s the Italian Mafia, they are always at a dinner table of some sort. During the toasting and multiple salutes, Phil Leotardo gets up to do his own take on the toast whereby he immediately starts talking about the Vito, the “faggot ass cornholing cocksucker that married my cousin. He should f*cking die.” The Italian culture is so rich. After the toasts the conversation soon turns to the fact that the food is taking too long to get there. When the owner/chef Artie Bucco comes out to talk, they ask him if he’s been to the new Italian restaurant “Da Giovanni”. It’s all the rage. It’s like trucker hats only more intense. Apparently they bring you eggplant parms in less than an hour. Oooh. I went there.
After dinner Tony and Chris are talking about the “La cage aux fag” otherwise known as Vito. Tony’s plan is that if he shows up he shows up, if not then they wont worry about it. I doubt this plan will hold. Christopher then tells Tony that he wants to go out to LA this week for a meeting with Ben Kingsley about his crappy horror movie. Tony is a little reluctant at first since this is the week of the Notre Dame-Michigan game. Well that’s easy. Since Michigan is a bunch of, to borrow a phrase from Phil Leotardo, “faggot ass cornholing cocksuckers” it’s obvious that Notre Dame will win. Also, go Buckeyes.
Later that night we see Artie Bucco at his restaurant acting like the douchebag that he is. Annoying customers, making excuses for having no business, etc. At the bar Christopher and his friends are sitting having a drink. They notice Artie’s new Albanian hostess, a hottie named Martina. Clearly Artie wants to get into her pants. Hopefully he’d wash his hands afterwards cuz the last thing you need is a veal parm with the scent of an Albanian quickie. Thankfully Martina is only interested in Benny Fazio, the munchkin Mafioso as I like to call him. Seriously, he’s so cute. Even when you see him shaking down a store owner for protection money you just want to throw some leotards on him and make him sing “The Lollipop Guild.”
Over at Da Giovanni, Tony and Carmela are there having lunch to celebrate Phil Leotardo’s faggot ass cornholing cocksucker kid’s holy confirmation. Neither of them can believe how amazing the food really is. When Phil stops by to talk to Tony he thanks him for the successful hit on Rusty. Tony pretends like he doesn’t know anything about it. Tony didn’t get where he is without brains.
Back at Nuovo Vesuvio Artie is presiding over another night with empty tables. His night goes form bad to worse when he sees Martina stroking the leg of little Benny at the bar. And I do mean little. He’s like that freaky midget that sat next to Marlon Brando in The Island of Dr. Moreau . Oh, he’s just a doll! In retaliation, he pulls Martina aside and tells her that the guy he was going to have help her get her green card suddenly can’t do it. Aww. Poor Artie can’t bang his hostess.
Artie then goes off to the Bada Bing to drown his sorrows and we are treated to some more fantastic HBO nudity. The Bada Bing sure has some quality ladies. When Tony shows up Artie complains about how “guys like him” can only hope to blow in their pants after a quick backroom rubdown I realize the double-edged sword being uncensored can be. Now I had to deal with that image in my head for a split second. Artie then continues his bitchy attitude by whining about Tony going to Da Giovanni. After Artie leaves in a huff he goes home and has to deal with his wife talking about how they are having trouble getting the good meat. A problem I never have to deal with, if ya know what I mean. Wait, taht sounded gay. I emant, I have no problem with meat cuz my meat is. Oh never mind. Then Artie’s wife talks about how Artie’s talking to the customers is hurting business because he’s a bore. Artie doesn’t want to hear any of it.
The next night Artie continues his bitchy streak by continuing to give Martina a hard time. When Little Benny tries to talk to him about it, Artie then makes a big mistake and gives Benny mouth. Benny may be a midget, but he’s a mafia enforcer midget. Like in that movie Bugsy Malone with Jodie Foster, where the mafia guys were all kids and they shot pie guns. Thankfully Artie’s wife intercedes in time so things don’t spiral out of control.
Speaking of spiraling out of control out in LA, Christopher, who’s in AA, is making himself busy with a nice hooker and some blow. The blow I have a problem with, but after getting a nice long look at the hooker’s fantastic milk fountains, even I question my longstanding “no hooker” policy.
Back at Nuovo Vesuvio, Arties whine fest continues unabated. When Tony stops in for dinner he starts bitching about the business and how its down 40% from last year. When Tony mentions maybe he can start using two for one coupons, Artie gets even more offended and even brings up the fact that Tony doesn’t pay his tab. Of course what isn’t mentioned is that the reason Tony doesn’t pay his tab is because Tony intervened a few seasons ago and kept Artie from getting into some serious trouble on an outstanding debt. Things go from bad to worse, or from worse to worser, depending on how you look at it, when American Express shows up and tells them that they are shutting down all Amex purchases while they open an investigation into stolen cards that they traced to the restaurant.
In LA we see the fantastic Sir Ben Kingsley (go rent Sexy Beast now) taking a meeting with Little Carmine and Christopher. The meeting doesn’t go well from the start, especially when Christopher gloats that their writer’s big credentials are Nash Bridges and Hooperman. Awesome. The meeting is then interrupted when Lauren Bacall stops by to visit. For a woman who was married to Humphrey Bogart, a man who died literally a half century ago, she looks pretty damn good. And this is HBO, so seeing her topless isn’t necessarily out of the question. And don’t tell me you’re not curious.
Sir Ben then calls the meeting short since he has to go to the “luxury lounge” at 2. For those who aren’t aware, when celebrities to big events they are literally handed thousands of dollars in expensive merchandise for free. It’s a ploy used to attract big-name stars to their events and also a way for the product companies to get the possibility of celebrity X getting his or her picture in US Weekly wearing one of their watches or designer bags or whatever, which only helps to increase the demand. I know this since as a member of the TVgasm writing staff I am not unfamiliar with the practice. In fact only yesterday did I get an email from MTV about requests for press credentials at the upcoming MTV Movie awards. To quote directly from the email “Please note there is no standard main press room. In its place, there will be a viewing room to watch the show and access multbox show feeds. No talent will be present.” See that? We get to hang out in a room with a bunch of TVs knowing that the real celebrities are technically in the very same building. I even heard we get complimentary Doritos. Ahh, the perks of the jobâ€¦ Once Christopher gets a look at the luxury suite, where Ben Kingsley, oh excuse me, Sir Ben Kingsley (cuz if the queen is attacked by a dragon that means he’ll be called into action or something) is handed thousands of dollars worth of shwag by hot supermodels, his jaw drops.
Back at Nuovo Vesuvio, the pathetic existence of Artie continues when we see him blowing up at the help after he tells them that one of them is stealing credit card numbers from the customers. Afterwards a panicked Martina calls Benny telling him that their credit card scheme is found out.
Later, Artie is leaving early for the night because of his “investing club at the Learning Annex”. I love this show. Even their throwaway lines are great. A loser like Artie is the exact kind of guy that would consider an “investing club at the Learning Annex” worthwhile. When he goes to Martina saying he wants to ask her a question she immediately breaks down and admits that she and Benny were behind the whole thing. Artie then continues his downward spiral by immediately going to confront Benny and ends up beating the shit out of him. Bad mistake.
The next day while he is out with Tony on his boat (the Stugots II, natch), Tony lays into him for beating up one of his guys and not going to him first. Tony is then forced to clean up after Artie’s outburst. He lays into Benny about pulling his scam at Nuovo Vesuvio. “You don’t shit where you eat. And you really don’t shit where I eat.” Another handy saying is “You don’t shit where you sleep” but that one no one ever tells you. You have to learn it the hard way.
Back in beautiful downtown Los Angeles, Christopher tries to get Sir Ben to get him into one of those luxury suites. When that doesn’t work he decides to take matters into his own hands. That night after the ShoWest awards show when Lauren Bacall is walking to her limo with her giant gift basket, Chris runs up with a ski mask on and grabs it. When Bacall tells him to get the F away from him, Christopher cold-cocks her right in the face. Bacall goes down. She goes down hard. I laugh my ass off. I’m sure all of you have seen the clip J-Unit put up earlier, but it’s worth showing again. The final “my f*cking arm” line is what really brings it all together.
That night at Vesuvio’s, Benny is there with his family for his parents’ anniversary party (Tony insisted he hold it there as punishment). Artie, not willing to leave well enough alone, comes by the table and makes a thinly veiled reference to Benny banging the hostess. This brings down all the wrath that a 4′ 6″ thug can muster and he storms into the kitchen, shoves him against the wall and shoves his hand in the scalding hot sauce thus rendering it inedible until they fish out the dead skin.
The next night, when Tony and Carmela come by the restaurant, Tony pulls him aside to have a talk with him. Tony tries to talk some sense into him, telling him to stop walking around feeling sorry for himself, but it just gets Artie more defensive and acting more douchebaggerishly.
Once you think things are lost for Artie a couple shows up at the end of the night when the kitchen is closed. Artie at first doesn’t want to cook for them, but then after he reluctantly agrees, he goes and pulls out his special worn-out cookbook and decides to cook for them a meal to end all meals. Unfortunately it’s a freaking rabbit that he shot in his garden and skinned himself, which is just gross.
So what did everyone else think? Will Vito sleep with the male fishes? Will we get to see even more boobs next week?