Sons of Anarchy on FX so far is interesting, but hasn't compelled me yet to want to jump on board in a fanatic way. I'm not saying it isn't good. It is. But something is missing that I can't put my finger on.
What I took away from it was that Sons of Anarchy could very easily fall into an interesting show category of a soap opera about a motorcycle gang who is dealing with the same aspects of life as everyone else, except of course for all the untoward violence that erupts around the club.
The issues the club faces are surprisingly rooted in day-to-day issues every family faces:
- The day-to-day family business (Gun running)
- The business competitors (Most business competitors don't blow your house up though)
- The family issues within the gang, I mean club
- The future business direction the club can look at
- The changing of the guard some day
Admittedly, most businesses don't include gunfire, explosions and having the police on your payroll, but it's an interesting take on the normal problems this underworld of bikers have to deal with.
The pilot introduced a lot of elements right away and does it well enough to not skip over too much detail, but gets us on board with good, underlying story details.
As I see it, the show stars Hellboy star Ron Perlman, whom I have always enjoyed watching from as far back as his Vincent days on Beauty and the Beast in 1987-90. Though we don't "see" him in a lot of movies or shows, he is an extremely busy voice talent for cartoons and it's nice to see him on my TV screen once again. Perlman plays Clay. Clay is the president of the club in charge of running the business of the motorcycle gang called Sons of Anarchy. From controlling the local law to keeping competing gangs out of their business can be a full time job, but he also has to wrangle his step-son Jax into the man he needs to be to one day to take his place as the head of gang. Clay is also facing that time when things are getting a bit harder to deal with as he gets older, so he has to start considering Jax for the job sooner than later. Clay, just get up and smack them with that big red hand of yours... oh, wrong show, sorry.
Jax: Short for Jackson is played by Charlie Hunnam. He's a new breed of biker gang. He's developing some sort of conscience about the violence and is looking at ways to try and get things done without killing people. Things like real estate investing. Dude, get a grip. Not in this market!! He also has to deal with his ex-wife, who over dosed (yet again) and almost has a miscarriage delivering their son. The little one needs multiple surgeries to survive. Jax, though he seems to be developing into a pacifist, takes a whooping to the drug dealer who sold the stuff to his ex. Though he still participates in the revenge hit they take out on the competing gang who blew up their gun stash, he's hesitant and you can see it.
Katey Sagal is the surprise character for me. She plays Gemma Teller Morrow. Mom to Jax, wife to Clay. Enforcer to all. This is a deep, dark twisted character for Katey from my experience in watching some of her past work, and admittedly I've not seen a lot of it. She's the guiding insight to Clay as she talks the necessities of what's good for the club. She let's Clay know he has to make sure Jax is properly prepared to take over when Clay steps down. She's also the stern edge anyone has to deal with if they get out of line, and she's very protective of her son. Case in point: Gemma provides a needle to Clay's ex-wife in the hospital because she doesn't need this junkie in her son and grandson's life. She makes that clear to her before giving her the needle. Jax's ex appears to have complied with Gemma's wishes as we see her thrashing in the hospital bed with doctors urgently attending to her. We'll see if she died later... I think we are to assume she did. Brutal. Honest. Shocking. I like Sagal in this role. She really pulls it off.
For me, these three were the main drive behind the show.
The club getting even for their gun stash being blown up, having cops on their payroll and the politics of gang interaction were all just great background for the story at hand about these three moving forward and developing. Sure, I may have missed other details, but this is what I walked away with focusing on and I don't think it will disappoint.
Some of the other members of the club are old familiar faces: William Lucking, Mark Boone Jr (Det Flass from Batman Begins), Mitch Pileggi (Of Stargate Atlantis & X-Files) as one of the other "club" presidents.
What I don't get is FX's pitch. One of their takes on selling the show is a darkly comedic undertone. I am either blind to the humor of the moment, or someone goofed in marketing a show. Nah, they don't do that! I still haven't put my finger on what's missing after writing all this. I thought writing about it would trigger it off, but it hasn't.
Bruce's thought: I'm going to keep watching for now.