The Sopranos introduced a mob boss and his family, taking all the conventional ideas about mobsters and shaking them up. We meet Tony Soprano. We see him doing the things we expect, like chasing down a gambler and kicking the shit out him. The Sopranos, beginning with its pilot episode, had a way of making the violence seem funny at first and then it would make sure you didn't forget this manner of running a "business" was sick and horrible.
Then we see that Tony is a man who enjoys watching the ducks in his pool. When the ducks leave, Tony has a panic attack.
We see him with his new psychiatrist, Dr. Melfi. We see his resistance to therapy, his way of dealing with women (he calls her "hon"). We see his sadness beneath the surface of his bravado. We see a human being. Tony is just like us. He's sad. He has issues with his mother. He puts up a front to make it through the world he was born into. He stresses over his job. It's just that his job happens to be that of a mob boss.
During his session with Dr. Melfi, Tony praises the idea of the strong silent type, like Gary Cooper.
"See what they didn't know is once they got Gary in touch with his feelings, they wouldn't be able to shut him up," Tony tells her.
We meet the family, in all their foul-mouthed glory.
The Sopranos' pilot episode set the stage for one of TV's most excellent dramas. It never deviated from the tone it set with its fabulous first episode.