While the audience for Sons of Anarchy may be limited due to it airing only on the cable network FX, the reception of it by the fans has been nothing short of superb. While it’s been compared to The Sopranos by the New York Post, most will find it to be a step down from that shows dramatic level, although Anarchy does stay within the realm of a close knit family that makes its money by doing mostly illegal activities. With the second season premiering on September 8th, there is no better time to catch up on the series first season, now available on four-disc DVD and three-disc Blu-ray.
FX Network’s original series, “Sons of Anarchy,” is an adrenalized drama with darkly comedic undertones that explores a notorious outlaw motorcycle club’s (MC) desire to protect its livelihood while ensuring that their simple, sheltered town of Charming, California remains exactly that. Charming. The MC must confront threats from drug dealers, corporate developers and overzealous law officers. Behind the MC’s familial lifestyle and legally thriving automotive shop is a ruthless and illegally thriving arms business. The seduction of money, power, and blood.
I gave the show a trial run during the first couple episodes, if only because of Ron Perlman and Katey Segal. Being a fan of their work from a variety of other shows, I found it easy to get into for them alone, although the show itself focuses more on the character of “Jax”, played by Charlie Hunnam (probably best known, prior to this series, for his stint on Judd Apatow’s Undeclared). It’s definitely a series that takes some warming up to, but even with in the span of three episodes I found myself grasping to find a reason to watch it. The characters, while interesting, just didn’t grip me right away as so many recent shows have done and as a result I just lost interest in this show very quickly.
Picking up where I left off on this Blu-ray release, however, did give me a bit more of an appreciation for this show…although it still suffers a lot from scenarios that have been played out on other shows and just a general lack of…well, excitement. There’s a lot of talking, hugging, and politics within the biker gang that takes up the majority of the shows time and while the second season has been advertised as being a lot more exciting and snarkier, I have my doubts as to how much it’s going to differ from this first season.
Not to say that this is a bad show…not by any means is it something you should write off, even after the first couple episodes. It’s a very, very slow start and I found myself becoming more invested as time went on, but I don’t know if I still truly care about any of the characters…or the show, even. As previously mentioned I love the leads and even the supporting cast is brilliant in that they can all act superbly and at the same time they’re all characters you can truly believe. The cast is made up mostly of people that you can say “Boy, they look familiar…” about, but rarely can you actually pinpoint and name them. I had that issue with Hunnam’s character, as it’d been so long since I’d seen Undeclared that it was hard to peg him down (at least until I got on IMDb, anyway). But, if anything, it’s the characters that make the show so worthwhile to watch.
There is also an interesting bit of undercurrent of Hamlet throughout the series, as crazy as it sounds. On the outset this is a pretty southern based show—rather hicky and white trash at times, but at the same time it does have a lot of qualities of Hamlet. Not being big into Shakespeare myself I didn’t pick up on it, but after reading and watching interviews with some of the cast, it seems that this series has a lot to thank Shakespeare for. At the same time how can you really commend a show just because it’s copying off of another, much older story?
Overall Sons of Anarchy is definitely an entertaining film to be sure, but it does have a few drawbacks. It can be a bit hard to get a grasp on all of the characters; they all act like family but actually figuring out which ones are blood related is difficult, as they all have different last names it seems. That’s a minor issue that really doesn’t have to do with the show so much as the large cast list, but the show definitely does have its moments. And, hey, it’s from an executive producer of The Shield–how much more information do you need to start watching this show? Recommended.
Fox brings Sons of Anarchy to Blu-ray in a standard Elite Blu-ray case with the three discs housed inside. On the outside is a piece of cardboard snot glued to the cellophane wrapping…again, no idea why. What purpose that serves I’ve no idea and I continually scratch my head at Fox’s packaging decisions. Menus are simple and easy to navigate and disc art features art from the show.
Video arrives in the form of an AVC encoded (@23mbps) transfer that brings to life the gritty, raw, and grainy nature of the series to life with spectacular clarity. There is a lot of filtering and manipulation going on with the color palette in this series, but it really does look remarkable on Blu-ray and I have to once again tip my hat to Fox for bringing out a fantastic presentation. The audio, a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, is also quite a powerhouse as well with plenty of bass to bring to life the motorcycle engines and gunshots fired in the series. It’s a solid surround mix as well, with ample usage of the surrounds during even quiet bar sequences.
•Pilot (Commentary with Kurt Sutter, Charlie Hunnam, Ron Perlman and Katey Segal)
•The Pull (Commentary with Kurt Sutter, Guy Ferland, Maggie Siff and Charlie Hunnam)
•The Revelator (Commentary with Kurt Sutter, Charlie Hunnam, Ron Perlman, Kim Coates, Mark Boone Junior, Theo Rossi, Ryan Hurst, William Lucking, Johnny Lewis and Tommy Flanagan)
•The Making Of ‘Sons of Anarchy’ Season 1
•Casting ‘Sons Of Anarchy’
•Anarchy On The Set
The three commentaries a nice inclusion, especially that last track which his just…packed with participants. The additional featurettes, deleted scenes, and making-of round out the set in a nice way, offering up plenty of satisfactory features as well as solid look at the production of the season. It’s not a giant roster of extras, but it’s enough for such a series and, again, the commentaries help ease what would’ve been an empty spot had they not focused on three of the core episodes of the season.
Overall a solid set and one that comes Recommended.
Sons of Anarchy is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.