"SONS OF ANARCHY: SEASON ONE"
by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
BLURAY EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Charlie Hunnam as JACKSON “JAX” TELLER
Katey Sagal as GEMMA TELLER MORROW
Ron Perlman as CLARENCE “CLAY” MORROW
Mark Boone Junior as ROBERT “BOBBY” MUNSON
Kim Coates as ALEX “TIG” TRAGER
Tommy Flanagan as FILIP “CHIBS” TELFORD
Johnny Lewis as KIP “HALF SACK” EPPS
Maggie Siff as TARA KNOWLES
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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In the town of Charming, California, the outlaw biker gang The Sons of Anarchy (also known as SAMCRO) is in charge. They dispense justice and regulate the crime and dangerous dealings in the town. Clay (Ron Perlman) is the leader of SAMCRO, and his step-son Jax (Charlie Hunnam) is his second in command. However, with a changing of the guard in the sheriff’s office and an ATF investigation breathing down their necks, the Sons of Anarchy are facing some new challenges that threaten to tear the organization apart.
WHAT I LIKED
Although “Sons of Anarchy” is not broadcast on the well known pay networks like HBO or Showtime, it has made a strong name for itself as an FX series. Like its gritty predecessors like “The Shield,” “Sons of Anarchy” takes an unflinching look at justice by outlaws. In this sense, it’s one of the more hard core shows on television, even though it has more censor limits than the premium stations.
We’ve seen the general idea behind “Sons of Anarchy” before, most notably with “The Sopranos,” in which the outlaws are the ones with the most power. However, “Sons of Anarchy” gives us a unique perspective to it. At its heart, this show has more in common than an old-school western. Just swap out hogs for horses, and you’ve got a pretty modern take on frontier justice.
The key to this show is the gray characters. It’s hard to say that anyone in the series is a good guy in that they all do nefarious things. Certain characters, like Jax, are the most noble, living by his own code. However, Clay also has his moments, being a father to the “Sons” and the town itself.
“Sons of Anarchy” relies on character tension, between Jax and his assorted love interests, between Gemma (Katey Sagal) and Clay, between the various members of the Sons of Anarchy. This is not a soft show by any stretch of the imagination. It’s full of testosterone and harsh scenes of violence. However, there are plenty of moments of levity, including a particular character with a chronic pleasure problem and some comic relief moments at the hands of some secondary characters.
Like “The Shield,” “Sons of Anarchy” is a powerful drama, and it deals with many unpleasant topics – from gun running to vigilante justice. And I’ll be honest... I haven’t seen anything quite like it on television in years.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Most of the characters on the show are appealing in their own ways. They may not always be likeable, but they are definitely compelling and interesting. Unfortunately, there are some weak spots in the mix, and they can be high profile characters. In particular, the character of Tara Knowles (Maggie Siff), who is a doctor trying to start a new life in Charming and who starts a relationship with Jax, comes off weak. She has an excellent arc in the middle of the season which involves her being personally stalked by a federal agent, but overall her character just doesn’t interest me.
There’s a lot of backstory to the characters that was probably dealt with in the original unaired pilot, so it does take some concentration to follow the characters, especially in the beginning. However, you can pick up all the characters’ histories if you pay attention to all the episodes.
Although the bonus features are a little slim for such a high-profile first season, there is still plenty of excellent material on the Blu-ray. Select episodes include commentary by the filmmakers, and there are plenty of deleted scenes from the season.
“The Making of Sons of Anarchy, Season 1” is a short featurette that gives the background of the show and how creator Kurt Sutter developed the series with his experience with the real thing. Additional featurettes include “Casting Sons of Anarchy” which spotlights the different characters and how they were chosen from the audition process, “The Ink” which explains the tattoos of the various gangs and “The Bikes” which details how each character has been given his own unique set of wheels.
Wrapping things up is “Anarchy on the Set,” a gag reel that includes plenty more cursing than you’ll even see on the show.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Anyone who like outlaw justice shows, and biker fanatics.