After climbing to the top of the executive ranks of the team behind The Shield, Kurt Sutter has landed squarely on his feet with the creation of Sons of Anarchy. A product of the FX channel (which is not available to us Canadians), the DVD and Blu Ray releases of Season 1 provide the perfect viewing opportunity for this stellar series.
The series revolves around a gang of motorcycle riding outlaws who operate out of the fictional town of Charming, California, a quiet venue in close proximity to Oakland. Their chapter is known as SAMCRO for The Sons of Anarchy Mortorcycle Club, Redwood Original. The central character is Jackson "Jax" Teller (Charlie Hunnam), the club's vice-president, who is finds his heart split between his ex-wife Wendy (Drea de Matteo) who has just given birth to his son, and his high-school sweetheart, Tara (Maggie Siff) a doctor who has just returned to town to work in the local hospital. The cast runs deep with amazing personalities including Ron Perlman, playing the club's president Clay Morrow, Katy Segal (who is also Kurt Sutter's real-life wife) playing Gemma Teller Morrow, Clay's wife and Jax's mom, Kim Coates as Tig Trager, the club's ruthless seargeant-at-arms, and Mitch Pilleggi as Ernest Darby, the boss of a rival gang called the Nords.
A no-holds barred storytelling approach similar to The Wire, The Sopranos and The Shield is immediately noticeable in the series pilot. The gory details are laid bare, with graphic illustrations exhibited of the extent to which the gang is willing to go to protect the club, their business and their families. The clubhouse is located in Clay's auto garage, but the gang's main source of income is running guns to the big city gangs in the East Bay, San Francisco region. Despite having the local sherriff, Wayne Unser (Dayton Callie), on their payroll, their operation ends up on the radar of the ATF, who sends in the devious Agent Stahl (Ally Walker), who goes to work trying to tear the gang apart from the inside out. The season ends with the gang in flux after a tragedy in the second to last episode gives all the members cause for a re-evaluation on their place in SAMCRO.
Special features for the first season include documentaries on the bikes, the tattoos and the casting, as well as a making-of.
A superb series, with a great first season under it's belt - let's hope these guys ride out a few more!