Created by Kurt Sutter
Starring Ron Perlman, Katey Segal, Charlie Hunam, Ally Walker, Kim Coates
FX, TNT, and AMC are all crafting programs that step above standard network fare when it comes to production value, storytelling, and of course violence and sexuality. These networks do have their share of procedurals but they also take some chances and Sons of Anarchy is just one of those chances that ended up being worth taking.
The show follows the exploits of a crime riddled motorcycle club based in the small California town of Charming. The show is set in the now but sometimes it can be a little hard to tell because it often feels like a 70’s biker film. Ron Perlman plays the leader of the club and he runs things in a fairly traditional manner which means gun running and violence. The son of the previous leader and heir to the throne as it were has different ideas. His father wrote an autobiography that the son, Jax, now uses as a way to learn from his father. That manuscript and his new baby have Jax believing that there’s a better way than crime and bloody violence. This of course isn’t the way that Clay (Perlman) sees things.
In this season Jax is still trying to decide where he fits in the world and how he can keep the club together while Clay goes back to business as usual, this time running guns. At the center of this season is a white separatist group that sets up shop in Charming. They don’t want to bust up the Club’s business but they do want them to stop selling to black and Mexican gangs. Clay won’t be told what to do so of course this leads to extreme drama and violence. Alan Arkin and Henry Rollins get to join the party for this season. Seems like if I were a citizen of Charming I’d be looking to move. First a motorcycle gang and now white separatists?
This show continues to ratchet up the drama and suspense when Jax gets the club involved in the porn business and ends up at odds with a shady producer played by Tom Arnold and all the while Jax and Clay find themselves more at odds with each other than ever on how to run the club forcing a split among members. By the end of the season the club finds violence all around them culminating in a brutal season finale. This series is extremely well crafted and acted. Katey Segal shows a side to her that never seemed possible back during her days in Married with Children and Futurama. Ron Perlman is also fantastic in the series. Sons of Anarchy is the kind of edgy, and risky television you hope to see on a cable network trying to find an audience under the shadow of the big three networks and HBO and Showtime. If you’re a fan of good TV you should be watching this series.
The 1080p presentation here looks quite good with only some mild issues with grain and blown out scenes. Some of that is definitely a stylistic choice but other scenes are simply a result of the transfer. Black levels look goo throughout the film and detail is solid throughout as well.
The HD surround presentation here is solid if a little underwhelming. The overall presentation is a bit low so I found myself riding the volume just a little. The mix is clean though and the directional FX work well throughout the 13 episodes. There’s not as much sub woofer use as you’d expect.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The box set comes packaged in a standard slim amaray case with a slip cover featuring the same art as the cover of the case. The art features a cool retro flavor that works well with the series.
First up as far as extras are three audio commentaries with different mixes of cast and crew. The commentaries are fairly entertaining if a little light on substance. These people all have a good time working together and that’s apparent in the commentaries.
There are a couple of featurettes, a gag reel, and some deleted scenes to check out. One of the featurettes is just a recap of the series. It’s a good primer for those new to season two. The second featurette is a roundtable discussion with the series creator and cast. They spend about 30 minutes answering some cotton candy type questions about the show. A little more depth would have been appreciated in this discussion and in the bonus features overall actually.
Sons of Anarchy is one of the better shows on basic cable that just seems to get overlooked. This one’s definitely worth checking out.
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10
The Season 8.5/10
The Video 8/10
The Audio 7.5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 6/10
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10