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 for its first season, although Anarchy quickly ups the stakes for the second season. The show still manages to stay within the realm of a close knit family that makes its money by doing mostly illegal activities, but with this season expanded it’s take on it all, it’s definitely a much deeper and involved season than the first. With the third season premiering on September 7th, there is no better time to catch up on the series second season, now available on four-disc DVD and three-disc Blu-ray.
From the creative mind of Kurt Sutter (“The Shield”), the adrenalized drama centers on a notorious outlaw motorcycle club intent on protecting their sheltered small town against encroaching drug dealers, corporate developers, and overzealous law officers. The club is equally determined to protect their ruthless and illegally thriving arms business. Charlie Hunnam stars as Jackson ‘Jax’ Teller, a man whose love for the brotherhood is tested by his growing apprehension for its lawlessness. Katey Sagal stars as Gemma Teller Morrow, Jax’s force-of-nature mother, who along with Ron Perlman as Clarence ‘Clay’ Morrow, Jax’s stepfather and MC president, have their own darker vision for the club.
While I still wasn’t immediately sold on the series after its first season, by the time this second season started up a few weeks after I’d published my review of the first season’s Blu-ray release, I found myself sitting down to watch it regardless (not like I didn’t have a ton of other shows to follow already, so what was one more?). By the end of the first episode it was clear the series was given a much clearer focus for its second season, moving beyond the in-family fighting (although there’s still plenty of that) and expanding its focus by dialing in on a rival bang that is attempting to wipe the Sons out.
There’s an early moment in the season that feels like they’re just trying to throw as much horrific drama into the mix as possible, but I was truly astonished by how the affected character, played by Katey Sagal, worked through it and Sagal’s performance throughout the season (even if it did seem to taper off in terms of volume in later episodes) was nothing short of exceptional. The cast continued to expand this season (although as is the case of dramas such as these, there were significant deaths as well) and while that certainly didn’t help in trying to make sure you knew who everyone was, by the end of the season I finally felt as if I knew who these characters were and that I knew a lot more about them than I did at the end of the first season. Not only because it seemed as if each one of our characters got their own bit of focus in some fashion, but also because the way the characters interacted with one another it all just felt a lot more organic and fleshed out. Which is to be expected from a second season, but regardless it was definitely felt in this second season.
By the end of the season there’s a definite feeling of tension that cascades throughout the final few episodes. There was a massive buildup from not only what was done to Sagal’s character but also everything else that the rival “competition” (as it were—best way to describe it I guess, even if they weren’t so much direct competitors as they were enemies) was doing to the Sons in an attempt to force them out of Charming. It’s a deeply dramatic and emotional season, but the show still maintains its bike riding bad ass quality about it that undoubtedly drives up the male viewership. Despite the mostly testosterone driven cast, the few women presented here are of such a strong caliber that they are in no way considered “girly girls” so there are plenty of strong female characters for women to grasp onto as well should they decide to hop into the series.
Overall this second season is definitely a Highly Recommended outing, although I do really believe that you should watch the first season prior to jumping into this one—there’s so much history packed into this series already that skipping one season would be greatly amiss. Still, hopefully the series can continue picking up viewers and delivering stunning seasons such as this. As with the majority of FX’s programming the series got snubbed by the Emmy’s (seriously? No nominations for either this or Rescue Me? Or Justified? Shameful.), but this is definitely a show that should (hopefully) be garnering more critical attention soon enough.
Fox brings Sons of Anarchy’s second season to Blu-ray in a standard Elite Blu-ray case with the three discs housed inside. On the exterior is a very nicely done slipcover, with a texture finish that goes well with the weathered look of the cover art. Menus are simple and easy to navigate and disc art features art from the show.
Video arrives in the form of an AVC encoded (@23.75 mbps) 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.
• Deleted Scenes (13 total, spread across three discs)
• Gag Reel (4min, 1080p)
• The Moral Code Of Sons Of Anarchy (10min, 1080p)
• Sons of Anarchy Happy Ending Roundtable (40min, 1080p)
• Commentary on select episodes (“Albification,” “Balm,” “Na Triobloidi”)
Extras are fairly brief, but the roundtable alone is a fantastic viewing just because it’s comprised entirely of questions from the fans of the show. The trio of commentaries, all with varying mixes of cast and crew, is also a welcome addition. The remaining extras I can take or leave, but fans will definitely want to check out the deleted scenes—the gag reel is a bit odd to watch for such a serious show, but still a good one regardless.
Overall a Highly Recommended release. With all of the extras presented in HD (including a picture-in-picture commentary version of “Na Triobloidi”), the extras look as good as the series does on Blu-ray and with about three hours total worth of goodies to check out, you’ll have something to occupy your time while you wait for the third season to start.
Sons of Anarchy – Season Two is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.