Feb 15 2011

To Hell and Back with Sons of Anarchy

Published by at 12:00 pm under Reviews,Television

From the comments I get on the site here, I’ve noticed that a lot of you actually listen when I recommend a show, so I figured I’d let you in on my latest discovery in case you’ve been missing it like I have.

I’m on an FX kick recently, first discovering Always Sunny, then Archer, now Sons of Anarchy, (I’ve actually just started Damages as well). But I just finished with Sons a few weeks ago, and I’ve been meaning to write about it ever since. Season three recently wrapped and it was one of the greatest hours of television I’ve ever seen. But first we have to start at the beginning.

Motorcycle gangs are cool. Well at least the idealized Hollywood depictions of them are, as in real life it’s a lot more STDs and exhaust fumes. Frankly, I’m surprised it took this long for someone to effectively craft a show around a badass biker gang, and even more surprised they chose a babyfaced Brit to star as the lead.

I’ve been a fan of Charlie Hunnam ever since his days of Judd Apatow’s  Undeclared, and I always wondered that while the rest of his co-stars took off (Seth Rogen, Jason Segel) he didn’t catch the same breaks despite looking like a young Brad Pitt with a British accent on top of it.

But Hunnam now has his shot, in a role that I can’t imagine ever being picked for him. As Jackson Teller, he has to grow his blond hair long and greasy, grow a beard to hide his perfect cheekbones and adopt an American accent. That last bit is perhaps the shows greatest struggle, as he does have some kind of accent, but “American” would be pushing it. But he is a strong lead, and a key part of what makes the show great.

His other half on the show is his step-father/gang leader Clay Morrow, played expertly by Ron Perlman who fits the role of fearsome biker far more easily than Hunnam. He’s the man in charge, but constantly spars with his surrogate son over the direction of the club.

What really cements the show as worthwhile is the supporting cast however, and with their support it’s one of the only shows on TV where the characters all feel like one big family, despite little or no actual blood relation.

The  gang is made up of a colorful collection of characters who go by a variety of nicknames like Opie, Juice, Tig, Piney, Chibs and Bobby. Well that last one’s not exactly a nickname. Each has their own distinct personality that you get to know and love over time, and the gang really is the driving force behind why the show succeeds.

The plot has had its ups and downs over the past three seasons, and though individual episodes may have their flaws, the overall direction of the show is really brilliant. The gang battles other gangs, the FBI, neo-nazis, the IRA and all these plotlines weave in and out of each other expertly.

Season three suffered an odd plotline about a kidnapping that never quite made sense, but the way things wrapped up was one of the most brilliant executions of a multi-layer story arc I’ve ever seen on TV. There were a million factors at play, and just when you think things are at their darkest, the show pulls you back into the light for the most satisfying season finale I’ve seen since Spartacus.

I’m purposefully avoiding giving out too many details about the plotlines as I don’t want to ruin anything, but trust me, if you think you like my taste in TV, Sons is definitely worth checking out. It may take a few episodes to get into, but once you do, I don’t think you’ll regret it. If season three seems weird to you, stick around until the end and report back to me just how awesome that was.

Alright, time to see how Damages goes.





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18 responses so far

  • JB

    Sons of Anarchy is a really great show. Ive heard critics compare it to a modern Hamlet and without spoiling too much, it looks like season 4 is going to really go it that direction. But yeah, that last 10 mins of the season 3 finale was amazing.

  • Chris

    Probably the best season finally of any show I’ve ever watched.

  • Jack

    Paul:

    If you’re on an FX run, let me recommend ‘Terriers’ to you. Yes, it was canned after one season because of ratings, but it’s in my top 5 shows of all time and it wraps up very, very nicely and very, very appropriately. It has the two most charismatic and likable leads I have ever seen (and I watch a ton of shows).

    Do yourself a favor and watch it!

  • DRay

    Fx seems to be collecting a few great shows. SoA is one of my favorites and if you like it then you should also check out Justified and Lights Out.

  • rcunn87

    I look forward to watching SAMCRO every year… I have a couple of recommendations for you, Justified and Rubicon.

    Justified is another FX show, nuff said.

    Rubicon is another great AMC show, but sadly to say not enough people had the patience for the pace of the story. It can be viewed as a complete story, but they spent ALOT of time on character development and it’s said to see them all go.

  • http://www.unrealitymag.com Paul Tassi

    Yeah I watched about four episodes of Justified. Didn’t have a problem with it, but it didn’t exactly get me hooked either.

    Really wanted to like Rubicon, but it was reallll boring, and not in like a fun, charming Mad Men way where at least the dialogue is good. Just regular boring. Dialogue is too a word spell check, screw you.

    I do want to check out Terriers, especially if it was given time to wrap up and it’s a short season. Previews made it look meh, but that’s probably why it got cancelled. I’ll check it out soon.

  • Bert

    Probably doesn’t hurt that a lot of ex-Deadwood actors show up in SoA too.

  • http://www.scumbag-michael-vick.com/ Vick

    SoA is a good show, but the last season wasn’t the best IMO. You should also check out “the league” and “rescue me”.

  • xXburekXx

    you do reccomend some great shows, thanks to you i have started watching the wire and SoA but i also love arrested development

  • Andy

    I’ve been meaning to watch this and Spartacus (due to your recommendation), because I have faith in you for turning me on to Community and Archer.

    I’m not sure if you’ve heard of a show called The Inbetweeners, but I recently discovered it. It’s a british show about four high schoolers. It only ran for 18 episodes, but I thought it was really well done. I’d recommend giving it a shot.

  • Squish78

    Justified started kind of slow…but now I put it on the level of SAMCRO.

  • ash

    Paul, you really have to stick around for Justified. It starts really slow, but takes off around early to mid-season, especially when M.C. Gainey shows up. Walton Goggins is a great “villain” and , Timothy Olyphant is such a bad ass.

    As for SoA, I love it. Season 3 was slow in comparison to seasons 1 and 2 but the season 3 finale made up for it. I’ve never been so satisfied with how a season ended until that.

    Also, thanks for recommending Spartacus a while back. My wife and I just started watching it and it’s mutha effing great!

  • Frank

    Ditto on Justified and Lights Out.

  • Ellie

    Since people are recommending shows, you should watch BBC’s “Sherlock”, if you haven’t already. It’s just Sherlock Holmes in the twenty-first century, and it’s surprising how easily Sherlock Holmes translates from the nineteenth century (and 1940s with Basil Rathborne) to the twenty-first.
    Sherlock regularly uses his phone (and is still unnervingly and frighteningly brilliant), the writing and dialogue is witty and smart, the cinematography and directing are memorizing, and it doesn’t hurt that Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman (Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, respectively) are amazing and have great chemistry.
    There’s only three episodes (each an hour and a half long), with the second season not airing until the fall and not filming until May D:
    And, SPOILER, the last fifteen-ish minutes of the third episode is incredible. Well, pretty much all the episodes are incredible, but the third one is the best one, in my opinion. Compared to the 2009 movie, the show is about a billion times better.

  • Rob J

    SoA was a good show but I never got into it…its on my list though.
    I hate Damages its just awful…

    +1 On a Rescue Me recommendation!

  • fred

    Right on, SOA is a great show I got around watching last year. Glad you liked. I myself got into the wire thanks to you and it has become my favourite series.

  • Taint

    Justified is also a very good show, wearth looking into :)

  • OrangesofDeath

    After you’re done Damages, you should definitely check out The Shield. I love it. Excellent show. Not your typical cop drama.

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