Sons of Anarchy Season 1

Sons of Anarchy Season 1
With each new television cycle bringing fresh takes on law enforcement, medical and legal professions, it's increasingly rare to find a world you've simply never seen before, something that Sons of Anarchy accomplishes right out of the gate. It concerns a California motorcycle club in the small town of Charming; they're under federal investigation for gun-running activities but the tensions within the club are its true threat. Jax (Charlie Hunnan) is the crown prince, tapped to eventually take over from Clay (Hellboy's Ron Perlman), the man who stepped in after the death of Jax's father, taking over not only leadership of the club but marrying Jax's mother (Katey Sagal, showing some remarkable acting chops far from Peg Bundy). The Hamlet parallels don't end there - Jax's father (the ghost) is present in the form of a manuscript Jax finds that details how the Club has lost its way from its "outlaw, off-the-grid" beginnings, devolving into organized crime. Created by one-time The Shield writer Kurt Sutter, Sons of Anarchy doesn't shy away from the violence and mature perspectives that have become the hallmark of cable TV, but it also doesn't shock simply for the sake of. Each detail is meticulous - from the tricked-out Harley bikes they ride to the "cuts" (logos) they sport to their attitude towards women as confidants (an "old lady" like Sagal's powerful Gemma) or as sex objects and servants (pretty much everyone else). Jax is a bundle of conflict; he's torn between Clay's criminal mentorship and his father's more idealized vision, between the junkie girlfriend (The Sopranos' Drea de Matteo) who gives birth prematurely to his kid) and the successful high school girlfriend (Maggie Siff), now a doctor, who can't abide the darker side of the Sons. And like Hamlet, Jax is at first a bit maddeningly unable to act - when the drama moves into high gear in the 13-episode first season, Sons of Anarchy hits its stride. The surrounding characters, from the jaded senior whose bike is adapted to contain his oxygen tank to the bike-less newbie "prospect" who's not yet allowed to bear the "cut" of the SoA, and the details are rich on this show. The Shield's Jay Karnes does some remarkable work as an unbalanced federal agent whose interest in the SoA may not be strictly professional; it's a credit that the cops-and-robbers set up feels fresh in this world, not just rehashed from two dozen other shows. While Sutter does his best to corral some epic group commentaries, the extras on this first season DVD don't match the quality of the show: how tats are designed and applied, how bikes are customized and an EPK-ish "making of" are pretty standard fare. Sutter will surely return in the second season stronger, more confident and with more leeway to fulfil his unique vision. After a stellar first season, he's earned it. Plus: deleted scenes, commentaries, more. (Fox)