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October 10, 2015

Sons of Anarchy: Pilot (series premiere)

by Jonathan Toomey, posted Sep 3rd 2008 11:03PM

Ron Perlman as Clay Morrow and Charlie Hunnam as Jax
(S01E01) "Just pretend it's carve-your-own steak night at Sizzler." - Jax

FX is taking a fairly big gamble with Sons of Anarchy. With their trademark drama The Shield ending its seven season run this fall and their other two big hits (Damages and Rescue Me) pushed to 2009 because of the WGA Strike, the network is in dire need of some fresh buzz. The one thing they have going for them? Even FX's previous flops (Dirt, Starved, Over There, Thief) were better than a lot of other things on TV and Sons of Anarchy certainly fits that mold. Once the fall season is in full swing, the only network competition will be CSI: NY, as I don't see Lipstick Jungle or Dirty Sexy Money getting in the way. Sons has the potential to do well. It'll just rest on creator Kurt Sutter and how he plans to make the show appealing beyond this pilot episode.

For those that read my Early Look review last week, there's no sense in mincing words: so far, Sons of Anarchy just doesn't do it for me. I've watched this ep a few times now and have already seen next week's installment (don't worry - no spoilers ahead) and I do plan to stick with it because, as I said - it's still better than a lot of other shows out there. However, there needs be some serious tweakage to the story if it's going to go anywhere.

"The Sopranos on Harleys" is the best way to describe Jax Teller and the SAMCRO (Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original) gang. The key over the span of the series will how well Sutter can develop each individual character the way Chase did with Tony and Company. There are already some little tidbits that make some of the supporting cast unique individuals: Half-Sack and the fact that he has only one testicle or Bobby and his side-job as an Elvis impersonator or Tara and her tattoo. Stuff like makes you want to know more.

As I mentioned in my Early Look, the biggest issue for me is what's shaping up to be the big mystery of the season: Jax's father, John Thomas Teller. While digging through some of his old baby toys for his new son Able, Jax found an old manuscript penned by his late dad entitled "The Life and Death of Sam Crow. How the Sons of Anarchy Lost Their Way." Clearly, something that wasn't supposed to have been found.

We're left to question what his vision for SAMCRO was and why Jax's mother and step-father (Gemma and Clay) are set on keeping it a secret. There needs to be more here to start though. As it is, this doesn't suffice as "the big mystery." A few more crumbs would have helped. Was Clay having an affair with Gemma when John was still alive? Was John working with the government? Did Clay kill John? Did Gemma kill John? Time will tell.

What it sets up is the fight for Jax's soul. Which side will be end up on? If Clay and Gemma have their way, he'll embrace the illegality of the family business. If Jax embraces his fathers wishes, he may stray to the peaceful side. Already, you can see hints of that. He wants to have a family and seems to care about his sick newborn son. The ending with Wendy taking whatever Gemma slipped her will certainly have an effect on Jax. Especially if he realizes his own mother was behind his estranged wife's life-threatening seizure.

Additionally, you can see how Jax values Opie's family responsibilities and it'll interesting to see how his ambiguous past with Tara comes into play. A life with her would definitely be a ticket out of Charming.

More thoughts on the pilot:

  • If Darby and the Nords are indeed working with the Mayans, then how will SAMCRO compete with that much muscle? I'm thinking they may need to get in bed with the One-Niners (from The Shield!) if they want to hold their turf.
  • Jax has the SAMCRO insignia tattooed right on his back - crazy.
  • Even though they have Charming's law enforcement bought and paid for, the hit on the Mayan's warehouse is going to be tough for anyone to cover up. Bodies, fires... people are going to ask questions.
  • I do like that a ticking clock has sort of been set in place to "fix" Jax. As soon as Clay's arthritis becomes too much to handle, Jax is going to have a lot more influence on how SAMCRO conducts business.
  • How funny was it when Half-Sack kicked the crap out of the Korean Elvis and the guy kept moaning in his bad Elvis accent?
  • I'm also looking forward to finding out how Opie got sold out by the gang. How did they screw him over? And why?

Part of the reason I'm willing to stick with this is because of the subject matter. If this were just another broken family drama, I'd be done already. But FX's track record coupled with the unique topic of motorcycle clubs will keep me around for now. What did everyone else think? Does FX have another hit on their hands?

Who was your favorite supporting character in the Sons of Anarchy premiere?
Bobby62 (11.7%)
Half-Sack111 (21.0%)
Tara103 (19.5%)
Darby14 (2.6%)
Opie203 (38.4%)
Piney13 (2.5%)
Wendy23 (4.3%)

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luann cox

both my husband and i really love the show. we would love to see the pilot and a few of the first showes. we would love to see it from the start. it may not be for kids but i think we adults desever a few good shows. we rate it a 10!!

November 11 2008 at 4:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am also upset that Chibs wasnt on the supporting cast list. He rocks.

I for one love this show! I will be very upset if FX cancels it.

September 30 2008 at 2:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Couldn't one say that there is a better analogy to this program (at least throughout the pilot) than The Sopranos?

It just seems that something is rotten in the state of SAMCRO.

What with Uncle Clay driving the club into the ground and all, it's only a matter of time until Jax' old pals Rosie Kranitz and Guy Stern show up and Jax is forced to question as to whether the whole affair is really worth it.

September 11 2008 at 6:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This show excites me so much. I normally work nights in a bar but i was in a motorcycle accident and can't walk to well right now for another month so guess what I am doing on Wed nights til I go back to work. I do work in a bar and guess what they will be watching also. I love the leather, the bikes, the attitudes, and the hot guys.
Thats u jax. YOu make my knees weak and my body shake.... Love ya, Jax/or Jake I an called both

September 11 2008 at 2:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Its about time to get a show like this on tv about Motorcycle clubs. I would love to meet Charlie Hunnam. He is so hot. What a good group you picked out. I been in clubs about 15 years and this takes me back home as they are my family. They always will be. Good people. I couldn't wait to watch this show last week and now just got done with this week. Now I have to wait another week. I get so excited. But Charlie is worth waiting for.
L&R to you all,

September 11 2008 at 2:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I enjoyed the pilot and will be watching tonight. With the Shield concluding this seems like another dark horse to root for as far as characters go. Ron was great, him and Katey lead a pretty solid cast. I'm anxious to see where this story will take us.

September 10 2008 at 9:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Haha, I kinda think de Matteo's role on this show has too many peeps thinking "Soporano's"...it's definitely it's own show...

I like the way the seemed to combine so many elements into the first episode. They show can definitely take a number of routes, from here on out.

Interesting dynamic, showing (what appears to be...) the many sides of Jax. It should make for an interesting power struggle for the top-spot, as some point!?

September 10 2008 at 6:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I cannot disagree more with Toomey's assessment of the pilot, which I found to be outstanding.

"There needs to be more here to start though."

Really? I mean....really? The first 25 minutes got the viewer familiar with who's who, so one could watch and say, "Okay, I get that he's this guy, she's that person," and so on and so forth.

Then, once the bedroom scene between Gemma and Clay concluded, the plot began to thicken and S.O.A. had me glued to the television for the rest of the show.

The analogy with The Soprano's is dead on though. It's almost an ode to the mob classic in its storylines, which, like The Sopranos, includes an outlaw "gang"/family, law enforcement on their tales, brutal violence and internal conflict within the family...not just the biker family but the real family as well.

I truly believe that FX has a potential "next great show" on their hands. One major obstacle - and a legit one at that - is the fact that a biker-themed show may not have the attraction to viewers that mob-themed shows do. How many odes to The Godfather movies have we seen? Heck, The Sopranos was one. Biker-themed shows just don't seem to have that mainstream appeal.

But it does have a buzz surrounded itself. I live in New York City, and after watching the pilot, I told a friend of mine that she needed to watched this show ASAP, thinking she had no clue as to what I was referring to. I was wrong. She told me that a motorcycle gang had flown through her neighborhood that day. The gang: Sons of Anarchy. It was a genius promotion that got some attention. Hopefully, the show itself gets more. It's top-notch television.

September 07 2008 at 12:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Jax is sooo hot...

September 05 2008 at 8:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to nattyff's comment

I also am called Jax or Jake, but yes he is super hot. I love this show. I have been in motorcycle clubs and this brings back some memories. I love the life and always will. I was hoping a show like this would come out. But Charlie Hunnam, yes you are a Hot Hun...

September 11 2008 at 2:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Juice was the best. Why isn't he on your list of supporting characters? I want to watch for more Theo Rossi.

September 05 2008 at 8:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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