Sons of Anarchy tv show on FX
I've spent most of the summer seeing ads on FX for the second season of Sons of Anarchy. It's first season passed me by without much notice (probably because I'm not a big fan of Ron Perlman), but something about the previews for season 2 really piqued my interest.
So fast-forward to me getting the season 1 DVD set and watching all 13 episodes of Sons of Anarchy over the course of three days. I was completely sucked in. This show is awesome!
I'll get to talking about season 1 in a minute, but for now I think it's worth mentioning that season 2 starts on September 8th on the FX network. I've already added it to my TiVo subscriptions and moved it to the top of the list. I recommend you do the same if you like great drama, combustible relationships and black humor. Oh, and Shakespeare :)
Buy it on DVD or Blu-Ray
The DVD set for Sons of Anarchy is packed with extras as well as audio commentary. I wish all tv show series included this kind of stuff. If you want to catch up with the show before watching Season 2, then buy the DVDs and spend your weekend camped out in front of your tv set. :)
For Blu-Ray fans, Sons of Anarchy turned out really well in HD and at Amazon it costs less than $10 more than the regular DVD release.
If you are unfamiliar with the show's concept, it's a drama centered around the activities of an outlaw motorcycle gang known as the Sons of Anarchy, or SAMCRO (short for Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Redwood Original).
The show is set in the small (and fictional) town of Charming in northern California (clearly filmed in Southern Cali though) and the motorcycle club basically runs the town -- the law is in their back pocket and most locals would turn to SAMCRO to solve their problems before going to the Sheriff's office.
The show is the creation of writer Kurt Sutter, who previously wrote and produced for The Shield.
I'll just introduce the main characters in the series. Storylines tend to revolved around the main family unit - Jax, Gemma and Clay. If you've read any other reviews of the show, you have probably seen references to both Hamlet and Macbeth. There is definitely a touch of both Shakespearian tales in this series and this is entirely intentional. In fact, the story generally follows the structure of Hamlet. There are also glimpses of a Western in here as well.
But for all the adrenaline and testosterone loaded up on this series, it is at heart a family drama -- or I should clarify -- a testosterone-fueled drama about a family. This isn't family-friendly viewing, mature viewers only for FX network series!
Jackson Teller, or Jax as he's usually called, is played by British actor, Charlie Hunnam. Hunnam is probably best known for the role of Nathan in the UK series, Queer as Folk and he also appeared on the series, Undeclared. He's all grown up here and working with a fairly credible American accent.
Jackson is the pivot around which everything else moves. He's the Vice President of SAMCRO, second only to his step-father. He's our Hamlet, somewhere just past 30 years old and questioning his future. The only surviving son of the deceased co-founder of the Sons of Anarchy, his own son has just been born prematurely after Jackson's junkie ex-wife overdosed on smack. Abel is born with a hole in his stomach (thanks, Mom!) and with a congenital heart defect that runs in the Teller family (that's not symbolic!).
Already questioning the status quo after his son's birth, Jackson finds a manuscript written by his father, John, who conceived the idea of the Sons of Anarchy more as a hippie dippie anarchistic social movement inspired by Emma Goldman, rather than the criminal gun-running enterprise that it's become under the leadership of one of the surviving co-founders, Clay Morrow.
Throughout season 1 the tension between Jax and Clay ratchets ever upwards as Jackson asserts himself and tries to start moving the club in a new direction, or at least scaling back the violence a bit in favor of thinking things through and acting strategically.
In addition to dealing with the tensions within the Motorcycle Club and worrying about his son's medical drama, Jackson is also trying to juggle relationships with three different women - his mother, his ex-wife and his high school sweetheart and first love, Tara.
For someone who is being squeezed from a lot of different directions, he's relatively clear-headed, especially in comparison to his progenitor, Hamlet. As a character, he's smart and thoughtful and the moral center of the show -- though he doesn't think twice about clouting a random stranger in the face with his helmet after finding the guy sitting astride his motorcycle (having his picture taken by his girlfriend, who then leaves with Jax lol).
Clay Morrow is the president of SAMCRO and one of the co-founders of the motorcycle club, along with Jackson's father John and another club member, called Piney.He's also now married to Gemma, Jax's mom.
Since he's played by Ron Perlman, it isn't too surprising that Clay's the main antagonist (vis a vis Jackson) in the story. He's Claudius to Jax's Hamlet. It will be interesting to see if in season 2 we discover that he hews as closely to Claudius as I suspect that he does.
Whereas Jackson is prone to acting strategically and avoiding violence where possible, Clay prefers more direct action. Shoot first, shoot again and then ask questions, maybe. Or hell, just shoot some more. It's Clay who is responsible for the motorcycle club morphing into the gun-running operation that it is today and there are strong hints that Jackson's father, John, and Clay did not see eye to eye on the purpose of the club.
His close relationship with Jackson is sorely tested over the course of the season and much like he is losing his grip on his motorcycle handles due to arthritis (presumably), he's also starting to lose his grip on the reins of SAMCRO as Jackson questions his judgment and decisions more frequently and more aggressively as season one progresses.
And then we have the absolutely phenomenal Katey Sagal as the matriarch of the story, Gemma Morrow. Hamlet's mom is clearly channelling Lady MacBeth here, but I don't think there's ever going to come a point in the story where Gemma feels the need to wash the blood from her hands.
In what is hands down the showcase performance on the series, Gemma makes Clay and Jax look like bitches. She's as tough as diamonds and she will do what it takes to see that things are set right -- even if her idea of right is a helluva lot different from her son's.
Determined to see that Jackson follows in his step-father's footprints and not his own father's, she's constantly manipulating behind the scenes -- either moving Clay to come down hard on Jax or trying to get Tara, Jax's high school sweetheart, out of the picture.
During the first episode she encourages Jackson's ex-wife Wendy to commit suicide (and hands her a hypodermic needle full of smack), but later plays Wendy (who survives her suicide attempt) against Tara as she tries to manipulate Jax's love life. The grudge she's harboring towards Tara stems from the girl having broken her son's heart when she left Charming for the big city life. Lesson learned: Don't cross your boyfriend's Mom!
Sagal is just really something to behold and you will forget all about Peg Bundy while she's busy threatening ATF agents.
The Supporting Cast
While Jax, Gemma and Clay are the main players, there are plenty of supporting characters and they all contribute something to the tension and fraying relationships.
There's Ryan Hurst as Jax's best friend Opie. He's half in and half out of the club due to his wife not wanting him to be involved. He spent time in prison because of the Club, but he can't leave it behind and he needs money. Then Opie's father, Piney, who was one of the club's co-founders. He's another one who isn't happy with the direction things have been going.
Of course, there's Tara (Maggie Siff) and Wendy (Drea de Matteo) both tugging at Jackson. Then the ATF comes to town in the form of bitch on wheels ATF agent , Agent Stahl, played by Ally Walker (Profiler) and another rogue ATF agent, Scott Kohn (played by Jay Karnes), who is really in town to stalk Tara (who is back in Charming primarily to escape her crazy ex-boyfriend, i.e. Agent Scott Kohn.)
Oh, and there's so much more going on. But I don't want to spoil you for season 1 because you really should watch it before plunging into season 2. I think a lot of things have been set up nicely for season 2 -- all they need to do now is light a match.
Buy Sons of Anarchy on DVD
Season 2 Promo
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