The writer of the Shield and the producer of the Sopranos bring you the most ruthless adrenaline-packed new drama of 2009. With over 40 minutes of unaired scenes, the DVD takes you even deeper in the unexplored world of th... more »is outlaw Californian Motorcycle Club as its members struggle to balance family life and weapon-trafficking business« less
Jean W. from JORDANVILLE, NY Reviewed on 8/28/2015...
really liked this series and plan to watch the rest of the seasons.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Wheelchair Assassin | The Great Concavity | 08/08/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Shield may be lamentably gone from TV, but prominent alumnus Kurt Sutter seems to have taken it upon himself to carry on its legacy with Sons of Anarchy, and if the show's first season is any indication he's more than up to the task. Anyone who enjoyed The Shield's combination of intelligence and testosterone will certainly find a lot to like here, as SoA quickly established itself as among TV's most unique and consistently compelling shows and only got better from there. Striking a near-perfect balance between grit and sensationalism, it takes viewers through a world marked by violence, double-dealing, and racial division, with an emphasis on the ambiguous morality and personal and familial baggage that come with a life lived between the straight world and the criminal one. The machinations of the characters and the twists of the plot are almost operatic, but the show remains rooted in the harsh realities of gangland.
The premise is sort of Hamlet-meets-the-Sopranos: youthful biker and new dad Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) finds himself trying to balance work with personal life as the Vice President of the Sons of Anarchy Motorcylcle Club Redwood Original (aka SAMCRO), a gun-running biker gang co-founded by his late father and now run by his stepfather Clay Morrow (the ever-swaggering Ron Perlman), who's married to Clay's widowed mother Gemma (Katey Sagal, in pretty much the biggest departure possible from her Married With Children days). From the somewhat hippie-ish beginnings envisioned by Jax's father, SAMCRO has evolved into a criminal powerhouse, especially in their central California base of Charming, where they're practically a small-town Mafia. These guys may not be as bad as the Hell's Angels, but the show makes it clear that they're far from harmless nonconformists, as we see them running guns, committing murders and (in one particularly stunning scene) burning off the tattoo of a perfidious former member. Single-episode plots focusing on the gang's efforts to turn a profit and stay out of trouble are expertly mixed with longer arcs dealing with the constant conflicts of gangland life and the mounting tensions within the club. As the season progresses, it increasingly develops into a battle of viewpoints between Clay's world-weary cynicism and Jax's (relatively) idealistic leanings and pangs of conscience, which leads inexorably to a conclusion that already has me drooling in anticpation of season two.
In another welcome parallel with The Shield, the show's writing gets progressively more complex and nuanced as the season goes on, giving the cast, a nice assemblage of recognizable (but not household) names, a lot of room to work. Further cementing his status as Hollywood's leading Jewish tough-guy actor, Perlman is impossible not to watch as Clay, the club leader who walks a fine line between toughness and ruthlessness. Clay's a classic antihero in the Tony Soprano-Vic Mackey mold, whose occasional moments of decency don't quite compensate for his myriad of bad acts, but he's practically a softie compared to his wife. Taking the concept of standing by her men very seriously, Gemma's the very picture of steely determination, willing to say and do anything to safeguard her family, and she shares both Clay's ability to perceive all the angles and his lack of reservations in doing what needs to be done.
For his part, Jax is certainly no saint, but he hasn't quite been won over to the Machiavellian value system championed by his mother and stepfather. Constantly tugging at his conscience are the newly-discovered writings of his late father John, a somewhat intellectual type who didn't necessarily intend for the club to become a crime syndicate. The voice-over narration of John's journal is a bit of a contrived device in a show largely devoid of them, but it does nicely frame the struggles that come to define the season. This season also sees a succession of great supporting turns from recognizable faces--Jay Karnes as a twisted ATF agent with a thing for Jax's ex, Mitch Pileggi as a vicious Nazi meth lord, Ally Walker as an enjoyably amoral Fed who vows to take the Sons down--that only serve to up the entertainment quotient. Even the law-enforcement officers--the shady, compromised Chief Unser and the more principled, by-the-book Deputy Chief Hale--eventually emerge as multi-dimensional characters in their own right.
Overall, it's extremely difficult to find fault with this season. SoA seems to have flown under the radar a bit while shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad get all the acclaim, and while those are both great shows I think SoA easily holds its own as one of the best on TV right now. If it maintains its level of quality in season two, we viewers could have yet another all-time great on our hands."
Awesome show, great Blu
Steve Kuehl | Ben Lomond, CA | 08/15/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Had not watched this show during the first season run, but I had customers asking about it for months now, so in seeing the Blu option I took a chance. The demand has been huge and the feedback has been excellent. A well produced show, a great cast, a gritty yet flowing soundtrack (Primal Scream, Lions, Bob Thiele, Curtis Stigers) all put together onto a solid Blu package.
The picture quality through all 13 episodes maintained decently, with only a few failures here and there depending on the night footage. The DTS is mixed just well enough to hear such gems as a cigarette burning while the Harley floods the outer channels, or a dog barking out a rear channel that makes you jump, or one of the few bass scenes (thumping music) when they enter the Niners Club in Oakland. The music was actually done just right in each episode as to not drown out any peripheral chatter or relevant goings-on. The supplements are placed entirely on disc 3 and include: * Making of - 9 minutes which initially I thought was way too short but it gets made up for with everything else. * Ink - 4:45 clip on everything tatoo. Unfortunately none of them were real. * Bikes - 7 minute blurb on everything one needs to know about each character's mc. Caters to the enthusiasts wondering about the specs. * Casting - 15 minutes of audition tapes mixed in with interviews for each primary and secondary character. I liked Pileggi's take on showing people he can be bad ("not Skinner"). * Deleted scenes - 35 minutes, half of which should have been left in, especially with such gems (plot holes) as how those panties kept getting flushed, Segal's chest scar, the clothing optional bathroom scene, Prospect feeling the wrath for beating Elvis, Pine being more aware of Clay's feel on his kid, and more. * Gag reel - 7 minutes that actually contained more highlights than gags, including every single kill of the season crammed into one minute, every single breast, butt and kiss shot montaged together, and the answer to that nagging question of what Tig really did in the morgue (he is just not right at all). * Commentary on the last episode by a ton of cast and crew.
The 3 disc set is a worthwhile owner for any fan of the series, and even though there are plenty of clarity fades and intermittent grain, the Blu package filled out nicely. Plenty of heated debates out there about the authenticity of the show, but Kurt Sutter was very honest about the research and stated no one would give him a single iota of material - he had to imagine all of this up. Congrats on making a competent brotherhood motorcycle club family drama. "
Hamlet on Motorcycles - That should excite you
Alexander M. Walker | Chicago, IL USA | 08/27/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Fun Fact: William Shakespeare loved motorcycles.
By fact, we of course mean lie - but it's still fun. But it's also the best explanation for the creation of Sons of Anarchy, a seamless blend of Hamlet and biker gangs. Shakespeare's stories have been recreated and re-imagined so many times that the average piece of television or film crosses paths with a Shakespearian influence at least once or twice in its duration. With that said, an entire series twisting one of Shakespeare's great tragedies into a story about family conflict within a motorcycle club is a thing of genius.
Even if you know nothing of motorcycle clubs (i.e. Hell's Angels, etc.), within moments Sons of Anarchy educates you on the twisted and incestuous nature of their politics and take on family life. Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman) became the head of the Sons of Anarchy when John Teller, the father of Jackson `Jax' Teller's (Charlie Hunnam), passed away. Now Clay heads the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Redwood Original (SAMCRO) under the guise of the Teller-Morrow auto shop. On a typical day SAMCRO purchases stolen auto parts, beats back meth dealers and fights their main rivals `the Mayans', a rival MC. Sons of Anarchy defines its own borders first by the city limits of Charming, the location of the original Sons of Anarchy club, and then by the territories of affiliated and rival motorcycle gangs. The politics of SAMCRO don't just cease at the clubhouse door, the club's influence flows into the lives of its members and the surrounding community, where they're both loved and feared for their contributions and domineering viewpoints, respectively.
While typically a loyal soldier of the SOA, Jax has begun to stir pensively under the black-and-white viewpoints of Clay. The new perspective comes from the premature arrival of his son, the discovery of his dead father's unpublished manuscript and a sense of ethics that just doesn't seem to be popular in his crowd. Keeping Jackson committed to the SOA cause, his mother Gemma (Katey Sagal) pulls the strings of the club and community from behind the scenes. There's not a man or woman in Charming who hasn't felt her silent touch, and her position within the club gains new strength when she marries Clay. Again, it's all somewhat incestuous in that Shakespearian way.
The structures of SOA life begin to crumble as Jackson falls further away from the club's credo and dark family secrets begin to ooze up from the past. Territory disputes, club mergers, protection jobs and sabotage push the club's public presence to a breaking point and make it all too easy for Agent Scott Kohn (Jay Karnes, Dutchboy of The Shield) to investigate all their activities. Some impending conflicts rear their heads early on while others rise up unexpectedly, but no matter what the circumstance the show is never dull.
Performances from the older veteran actors are top-notch. Ron Perlman and Katey Sagal put on a show worthy of award nomination and supporting clubber Robert `Bobby' Munson (Mark Boone Junior) solidifies the show's reputation for superb performances. Charlie Hunnam has promise, but the first season doesn't really show-off his chops in comparison to other actors in the show. Maggie Siff plays an ex-love interest to Jackson who might be something more - but either way she's one of the more compelling younger thespians in the mix.
Blu-ray Extra Features:
Only some of the episodes have audio commentaries, but they're not really what will draw you into the extras section of the disc. There are a variety of "making of" featurettes (one of considerable length) and others covering cool and contextually important facets of the show. One such featurette takes a look at the tattoos of the gang and their women (many of whom are branded with the troupe's iconic crow) while another takes a cursory glance at the Harley Davidson Dynas used in the production.
Sons of Anarchy is a great reinvention of Shakespeare and it's really interesting to watch it all unfold - even knowing how it all has to end. Few plots can keep an audience entrenched when they know how it has to end (Valkyrie, anyone?). With the show so deeply rooted in the Shapespearian lore, what's really interesting is to see the show's tie-in to the channel-making drama that came before it: The Shield. Now, having an ex-Shield star as one of the supporting characters is a nice touch - but it's not the best; one of the rival gangs has been cleverly titled the One-Niners - one of the main gangs faced by Vic Mackey and his crew."
Great DVD extras and a fantastic ride!
The Topiary Cow | Mid West, USA | 08/28/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Fantastic show and GREAT extras on the DVD! Always appreciate it when a DVD set includes extras. Includes deleted scenes, a gag reel, films about the tattoos, the motorcycle customization, casting decisions narrative including the original audition tapes for all the cast. Also includes some audio commentaries.
All in all, a great DVD set and that's not to mention the show itself. Charlie Hunnam steals every scene he is in. He is electrifying, vibrant and SO talented. You can't take your eyes off watching him every moment he is on the screen.
The show is fantastically written but even better is watching Hunnam interact, especially with his girlfriend--wow, their scenes are hot! Some actors are just really interesting to watch, they can do more with a look or a word than others do with entire lines. Hunnam is one of these.
His character is the vice-president of the Sons of Anarchy but his intelligence, questioning of the status quo and determination to stick to his beliefs means he is in conflict with those in the club who either have no morals, easily leave them behind or only care about money.
Hunnam is fascinating to watch, in one scene he is emotional or tender to his girlfriend or family, then the next he is violently asserting his will in clashes where he defends his principles or makes a point.
There is an interesting tension showing his desire to be honest in the world, yet his need to be duplicitous, because of gun-running or other illegal activities.
The scene where he finds a gawker sitting on his bike, and is pretending to be friendly then beats the guy to the ground, telling him "Don't EVER sit on another man's bike!" is an illustration of this.
There is a stillness to Hunnam's portrayal which brings so much interest to the character. Instead of going on and on about something, he'll just say "Are you ready for this?" and with a short sentence and a look, will say everything.
The audio commentaries are really funny too. There's one scene where they show Hunnam with his shirt off and the show's creator says "This is one for the ladies!" and he is so right.
All in all, this DVD is well worth buying and keeping, not just a rental."
Tea: I think I'll sit down and drink the whole pot, thanks!
Alexis Smith | USA | 08/26/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Overall a great new series filled with a raw edginess that I couldn't get enough of. The show first aired on Fox's FX cable channel in fall of 2008. Fox had been airing trailers all over the cable world attempting to drum up interest in the new series. However, the trailers they aired showed nothing of the series, making it impossible to tell what the series was about. So of course I had to tune in to find out. And I was pleasantly, sometimes overwhelmingly surprised at how good the show was. The show features a biker gang from a small town who run drugs and guns to keep their gang and the money flowing, while bartering to keep the local law off their backs. Plus they have to contend with other gangs who want to take over their turf or just plain take their money. The gang is headed by Clay (actor Ron Perlman and star of the movie `Hellboy') with strong influence from the next biker generation, Jax (actor Charlie Hunnam who played Nathan in `Queer as Folk' and Katie Holmes love interest in the movie `Abandon'), who is the son of the co-founder of the gang. Jax's mom, Gemma (actress Katey Sagal formerly of the well known `Married with Children' TV series), is also the old lady to Clay and plays a vital sometimes brutal role in the gang. And then to make things interesting, they throw in Jax's ex-girlfriend, Tara, formerly part of the gang, who is now a doctor at the local hospital. Outstanding variety of characters, excellent casting all around, great story and subplots that add even more drama to the dramatic, and just some laugh out loud or downright crazy stuff that happens in each episode. I was blown away with Jax, as a character (and the actor who played him) because of the depth and conflicted duality he seemed to contain just below the surface that keep me riveted to the screen. And I was floored by Gemma, she was just so awesome, like a mother bear protecting her cubs. The one flaw of the show, for me, and it's a small one since the show doesn't have a lot of it, were the sex scenes with Jax and the female partners (especially the ex-girlfriend Tara). They just didn't feel 'real' to me. They seemed very awkward, like it was actors trying to create a sex scene for the characters. Season 2 of the series is to set air on the FX channel on September 8, 2009."