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Sons of Anarchy – Season One (A J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 27, 2009 by  



“A violent, gritty and riveting drama series from Kurt Sutter, writer/producer of “The Shield”.  Well-cast, well-written storylines and a Shakespeare Hamlet-esque type of series that will captivate you from beginning to end!   The Blu-ray version of this series showcases the vibrant picture quality and the lossless audio makes this version the definitive one to own.  Highly recommended!”

Images courtesy of © 2008 Twentieth Century Fox. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Sons of Anarchy – Season One

DURATION: 13 Episodes (594 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), AVC @ 23MBPS, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Digital,  Subtitled in English SDH,  Spanish and French

COMPANY:  FX Productions/Twentieth Century Fox

RATED: N/A

Release Date: August 18, 2009

Created by Kurt Sutter

Directed by Stephen T. Kay, Guy Feland, Bill Gierhart, Gwyneth Horder-Payton

Written by Kurt Sutter, Dave Erickson, Jack LoGiudice

Executive Producer – Art Linson, John Linson, Kurt Sutter

Co-Executive Producer – James D. Parriott

Produced by Kevin G. Cremin

Associated Produced by Craig Yahata

Consulting Producer: Jack LoGiudice, Dave Erickson

Music by Bob Thiele Jr.

Cinematography by Paul Maibaum

Edited by Jordan Goldman, Hunter M. Via, Jacques Gravett

Casting by Wendy O’Brien

Production Design by Anthony Medina

Art Direction by Lori Agostino, William Eliscu

Set Decoration by Lance Lombardo, Dena Allen

Costume Design by Kelli Jones

Starring:

Katey Sagal as Gemma Teller Morrow

Charlie Hunnam as Jackson “Jax” Teller

Ron Perlman as Clarence “Clay” Morrow

Theo Rossi as Jean Carlos “Juice” Ortiz

Kim Coates as Alex “Tig” Trager

Johnny Lewis as Kip “Half Sack” Epps

Maggie Siff as Tara Knowles

Mark Boone Junior as Robert “Bobby” Munson

Tomm Flanagan as Filip “Chibs” Telford

Dayton Callie as Chief Wayne Unser

Ryan Hurst as Harry “Opie” Winston

Taylor Sheridan as Deputy Chief David Hale

Dendrie Taylor as Luanne

From an executive producer of The Shield, comes a gripping drama that takes you into the ruthless underworld of outlaw bikers.  The Sons of Anarchy live, ride and die for brotherhood.  But as the club’s leader (Ron Perlman) and his wife (Katey Sagal) steer them in an increasingly lawless direction, her son Jax (Charlie Hunnam) is torn between loyalty and the legacy in this adrenaline charged first season.

“Sons of Anarchy” comes from the mind of Kurt Sutter, a former writer and co-producer of FX’s popular (and now recently concluded) series “The Shield”.    Joining Sutter are fellow writers Dave Erickson (“Canterbury’s Law”) and Jack LoGiudice (“Street Time”, “Resurrection Blvd.” and “7th Heaven”), composer Bob Theile Jr. (“The Office”) and cinematography by Paul Maibaum (“My Boys”, “Samantha WHO?” and “Related”).

The drama series revolves around a motorcycle club known as the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Redwood Original (SAMCRO).  With SAMCRO chapters across the country, the original Sons of Anarchy motorcycle club was formed in an area called Charming.  Members consist of normal men who have their own responsibilities, life style and jobs but what they have in common is their allegiance towards the club.  And that allegiance includes being part of a life of danger.  For the Sons of Anarchy, the group makes a lot of money by dealing with importing illegal weapons which they sell to other gangs in the Bay Area (primarily the East Bay area), dealing with other organizations or mafia connections but taking a pride in their city and protecting local businesses and the people of the area.

They are well-connected and also have ties to the inside of law enforcement and thus, are able to maintain their operations.  But of course, all is not safe as major gangs are there to cause the club some havoc.  There are those who try to mess with them or steal SAMCRO’s shipments such as the white supremacist group known as the “Nords”, their Latino rivals from Oakland known as the “Mayans” and possibly other dangers including the authorities.

The first season of “Sons of Anarchy” focuses on member Jax (Charlie Hunman, “Undeclared”, “Hooligans”), a member who tends to takes care of operations for the club and is quite respectful of his allegiance to the club that his father John had started and ran until his death many years ago.

SAMCRO is now run by Clarence “Clay” Morrow (Ron Perlman, “Hellboy” films and “Beauty and the Beast”) who married Jax’s mother Gemma (Katey Sagal, “Married with Children”, “Futurama”, “8 Simple Rules…For Dating My Teenage Daughter”) and have lived a life of making money but now are starting to feel the financial constraints.

Both have made the Sons of Anarchy to a club that is profitable (due to the club’s illegal dealings) but things start to change when Jax discovers his father’s belongings especially with the discovery of his dead father’s unpublished manuscript.  It appears that his father has envisioned change for the Sons of Anarchy and because of this, Jax notices that with all the trouble and danger the club faces now, perhaps its time to change things for the positive for the club.

Jax eventually starts to show doubts towards the club’s activities and starts to become more compassionate to the personal lives of some of the members and thus puts himself into a position that can lead to conflict with the his step-father/leader of the Sons of Anarchy.  Of course, this change of thought starts to rub certain members the wrong way, some who question Jax’s ability to lead in the future.

Needless to say, Jax’s mother, Gemma starts to be concerned of her son’s interest in her dead husband’s belongings and looks at things as if her deceased husband is trying to talk to her son from the grave.  Thus, she wants her husband Clay to make sure that Jax doesn’t hurt the operations of the Sons of Anarchy and make sure he doesn’t stray.

Throughout the series, we get to see how the club operates but most of all how tight or how troubled the internal brotherhood is between the members of the motorcycle club and the dangers they face.

Members of the Son of Anarchy also include:

  • Bobby “Elvis” Munson (Mark Boone Junior) – The treasurer of the club and an Elvis impersonator
  • Tig Trager (Kim Coates) – The sergeant-at-arms.  Clay’s right hand man and incredibly violent.  Doesn’t believe in Jax as the successor to the club.
  • Filip “Chibs” Telford (Tommy Flanagan) – The medic of the club that served for the British Army.
  • Piermont “Piney” Winston (William Lucking) – Opie’s father and co-founder of SAMCRO.
  • Harry “Opie” Winston (Ryan Hurst) – A member of SAMCRO who has been off-an-on with the group because of his obligations to his wife and kids.  Thus he stays away from their illegal activities.
  • Juan Carlos “Juice” Ortiz (Theo Rossi) – The club’s intelligence officer, ahe hacker and the guy with the inside connections.
  • Kip “Half-Sack” Epps (Johnny Lewis) –  A member of the club and former Iraq vet.

“Sons of Anarchy – Season One” is featured on three Blu-ray discs.  Here is a spoiler-less summary of each episode:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 1 – Pilot – Introduction to the characters and Jax’s pregnant ex-girlfriend goes into a drug overdose and harms his baby.  Meanwhile, the Sons of Anarchy’s weapons have been stolen by The Mayans and now they must recover the weapons.
  • EPISODE 2 – Seeds – There’s a new deputy chief in Charming and is on to the Sons of Anarchy.  Meanwhile, SOA member Opie and his family are having financial problems.
  • EPISODE 3 – Fun Town – The daughter of a prominent Charming family is assaulted and the Sons of Anarchy (who protect their town) needs to take care of business.
  • EPISODE 4 – Patch Over – The Sons of Anarchy try to help out their Nevada brothers known as the Devil’s Tribe.  Especially now that they have been threatened by the Mayans.
  • EPISODE 5 – Giving Back – Clay must protect a parolee, meanwhile SAMCRO  is being investigated.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 6 – AK-51 – Clay has Jax work on a project for him and a way to see where Jax’s mind is for the club.
  • EPISODE 7 – Old Bones – Old bones are discovered outside of Charming and secrets of Clay may be revealed.
  • EPISODE 8 – The Pull – SAMCRO gets into more financial problems, meanwhile the Nords and Mayans continue to grow their partnership.
  • EPISODE 9 – Hell Followed – SAMCRO gets their revenge against a rival biker club.
  • EPISODE 10 – Better Half – Agent Stahl starts to investigate the women of SAMCRO.

DISC 3:

  • EPISODE 11 – Capybara – Jax is put into a situation in which he must choose to be there as a friend for the members of the club vs. his allegiance to the club.
  • EPISODE 12 – The Sleep of Babies – Clay has to make a difficult decision on how to pay for Bobby’s defense.  Meanwhile, Abel’s return home causes severe problems for the club and a tragedy for the club.
  • EPISODE 13 – The Revelator – Jax goes on a search for who murdered a person close to them and Jax discovers the awful truth that the murderer may be someone he knows really well.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Sons of Anarchy – Season One” is presented in 1080p High Definition (AVC @ 23MBPS), widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1:78:1.  The series is a series that has a large number of scenes shot outdoors and for the most part, the picture quality features excellent detail.

From the scenery of the mountains, the motorcycles, the weapons, the explosions,  the violent maiming of gangsters and the blood, burnt flesh and details of the wounds are quite clear and detailed on this Blu-ray release.

Also, during the darker scenes, I didn’t catch any major high compression or high noise during those low-light situations.  Skin tones are natural and you can catch some scenes with the skin pores and for the most part, the picture quality is brilliant although you do see occasional grain but definitely not distracting.

Audio is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (Spanish in Dolby Digital).  “Sons of Anarchy” is a series that takes advantage of the lossless audio track.  From the revving of the engines of the Harley-Davidson motorcycles to the booms of explosions and the gunshots, the series definitely utilizes the surrounds during those action-scenes.

For the most part, the explosions and weapons are minimal and most of the audio is dialogue-driven and is primarily front and center channel driven.  As with the rock music that plays throughout the series.  But for the most part, fans of the series will enjoy the lossless track and its use of the various channels throughout the series.

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Sons of Anarchy – Season One” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

On disc 1, select audio and you will be able to find the following audio commentary:

  • Commentary for Pilot – Featuring audio commentary with Kurt Sutter, Guy Feeland, Charlie Hunnam, Ron Perlman and Katey Sagal.

DISC 2:

On disc 2, select audio and you will be able to find the following audio commentary:

  • Commentary for the Pull – Featuring audio commentary with Kurt Sutter, Guy Feeland, Maggie Siff and Charlie Hunnam.

DISC 3:

  • Commentary for the Revelator– Featuring audio commentary with Kurt Sutter, Charlie Hunnam, Ron Perlman, Kim Coates, Mark Boone Junior, Theo Rossi, Ryan Hurst, William Lucking, Johnny Lewis and Tommy Flanagan.
  • The Making of Sons of Anarchy, Season 1 – (8:59) Interviews with the producers, creator and cast about the series.  Kurt Sutter talks about spending time with the outlaw community and trying to make the series authentic.
  • The Ink – (4:50) Biker clubs have their own logo and patches and how the “Sons of Anarchy” insignia was created.  Interviews with cast and crew including tattoo artists and insignia creators Freddy Corbin and Derrick Snodgrass.
  • The Bikes – (7:08) The cast and crew talk about riding motorcycles and their appreciation of riding them. Crew talk about the different bikes that each character rides.
  • Casting Sons of Anarchy – (14:47) Kurt Sutter (series creator/writer) and Wendy O’Brien (casting) discuss the casting of “Sons of Anarchy”.  The two discuss the importance of finding people who really look like they fit the part.
  • Deleted Scenes – (35:05) Around 30 deleted scenes which can be watched individually or via “play all”.
  • Anarchy on the Set (Gag Reel) – (6:53) A hilarious gag reel.

“Sons of Anarchy” is one of those rare series that you will catch on television.  The interesting thing is that back in the late 1970’s, the outlaw life was typically portrayed on television as this hell-bent biker gang but films really never fully explored it well, actually, if anything, they were just used as an episode of “C.H.I.P.S” and were people wreaking havoc on innocents.

There is a culture among the biker clubs and it was great to see a series that featured characters in a variety of depth and it is quite evident that creator/writer Kurt Sutter did his research well in capturing that culture, the look and feel of the individuals (and of course, great casting) but bringing together this gritty storyline of opposing gangs and rival biker clubs and creating this world where life is not always peaceful and allegiance for the club, you need to sacrifice for the club.  Personally, I was captivated by the storytelling and from beginning to end, realize that hell is going to break loose in Season 2.  Granted, I say this not knowing anything about motorcycle gangs up-close and personal but I would assume with all the time that Sutter spent with the various motorcycle clubs, there are some aspects of that culture that he brought into this fictional drama series.  And of course, that correlation to Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” makes the series quite intriguing.

I have to admit that before watching the series, I wasn’t sure how Charlie Hunnam (who typically plays popular guy that the girls dig type of roles), Katey Sagal who has been in more sitcom-based shows and more dramatic series and of course, Ron Perlman, an actor that viewers are used to seeing him in “Hellboy” or the old classic “Beauty and the Beast” series.  But for the most part, each of the talent did wonderful job and the series is literally well-cast.  Hunnam as Jax sans the English accent almost has this Heath Ledger type of feel to his character that works.  Katey Sagal does an excellent job playing a mother, but a mother who has the potential of going bad.  And of course, Ron Perlman definitely has that look of a person you don’t want to cross.  Add in the other talent and  overall, the way they play their characters are is convincing.  Again, the talent are definitely well-cast!

The Blu-ray further enhances the enjoyment of the series with picture quality really capturing the violence and grittiness of the series.  In the first episode, the first time you lay your eyes on the charred remains of two people, you know that this series is not going to be “pedestrian” and by the end of the first episode, you realize that the series is quite violent but fits the situation quite well.  As mentioned before, the lossless audio track definitely compliments the series, especially for those who can’t get enough of that engine revving of the Harley’s in high definition.  Also, picture quality is well-done and again, as beautiful as the scenery is of the mountain regions and the camera panning through the various Harley’s, the picture quality also captures the detail of the violence of the series.

“Sons of Anarchy – Season One” was definitely a big surprise for me and it’s good to know that FX has continued the trend of having well-written, well-cast and overall, another riveting drama series.  Overall, this series is highly recommended!

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