Sons of Anarchy Season One Blu-ray Review
I knew the series employed Ron Perlman as the leader of the gang, and that also got my attention since I thought he would physically bring gravitas to the role. I learned that he apparently wasn't the first choice, and after shooting the pilot with Scott Glenn, they went back and re-did all the scenes with Ron. I didn't see the original, of course, but this strikes me as the right move.
The story is a bunch of anti-hero outlaws in the motorcycle gang, The Sons of Anarchy (also called SAMCRO, which stands for Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Redwood Original). They are gun-running, Harley-riding, iconic biker guys who talk tough and have somewhat of a code of honor; they strive to keep their home town, Charming, out of the fire-fight and wear the leather with style. There is an old guard who are the originals, and the new guard who are the kids and up-and-comers. Jax is the second in command and the son of the deceased former founder, John Teller (Nicholas Guest). John appears only in old photographs, but his voice speaks to his son from beyond the grave in the form of a manuscript so Jax can determine details of the vision John had for his motorcycle club -- a far different vision than the outlaw, violent group it has become.
The cast also features the wives who are an integral part of keeping the gang going; they provide not only some of the back-bone for the operations, but in a narrative way provides a lot of the drama with Katey Sagal playing a Lady McBeth figure, who is the wife of Perlman (Clay Morrow) and a cast-iron, steel-willed manipulator every bit the equal of anyone else in the club.
Once the show gets going, it runs like one long story with episodes often picking up seconds after the last episode ended. The Sons are smart enough to be interesting, bad enough not to be completely romanticized, and sympathetic enough to be mainly likable. The show gives them a hand on that count with some very unlikable law enforcement. The plotting is moderately intricate with a few intertwined story lines, enough attention to pacing that it doesn't drag, and a good sense of the cliffhanger.
The special features include commentary on the last episode, which is where you want it most (and it is not bad), a gag-reel (which is ok), specials on the bikes and the ink (the ink is interesting). It has casting and some making of stuff. You can see the care that went into this show, and it has paid off. The show, on Blu-Ray looks fantastic. The use of light, especially in the 'chapel' scene where the club meets, comes through in high-def. If you like the show, this is the version you want.
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