Wednesday, September 03, 2008

'Anarchy' Is A Good Thing

FX has been pretty hit-and-miss with its series over the years. For every "Rescue Me" or "The Shield," you also get the likes of "Dirt" and "The Riches."

Fortunately, "Sons of Anarchy" (FX, 10 p.m.) is in the former category. In fact, comparisons to "The Shield" and "The Sopranos" are pretty apt. Though "Sons" doesn't rank yet with those two series - two of the best ever on TV, IMHO - it does show a lot of potential early on.

Think "Sopranos" redone as a biker gang, shot in a style reminiscent of "The Shield." (Not surprising, since the show was created by "The Shield's" producer, Kurt Sutter.)

Ron Perlman ("Hellboy") leads a biker gang that runs the crime in a Southern California town. With snitches among local law enforcement and dealing with all the rival gangs, the Sons of Anarchy are kind of the flip side of the coin to the strike team on The Shield.

In tonight's episode, the Sons must get back a warehouse full of guns stolen from them by a rival gang in order to fulfill the terms of a contract with a third group. Meanwhile, Jackson (Charlie Hunnam), the gang's annointed leader-to-be and son of the gang's founder, must deal with his ex-wife's (Drea De Matteo) drug habit that has put the life of their unborn son in danger.

The standout here is Katey Sagal ("Married With Children"), Perlman's wife and Hunnam's mother. As the matriarch of the gang, she channels both Carmela and Livia Soprano and is a forced to be reckoned with.

As FX series goes, "Sons" lacks the wit and emotional impact of "Rescue Me" and the adrenaline-induced shock value of "The Shield," but with the latter's exit at the end of this season, "Sons" has shown the potential to be a worthy replacement.

Note that the pilot runs 78 minutes, so like every other FX show, set your recording device of choice to run long.

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: "Bones" (Fox, 8 p.m.) returns for Season 4 with a two-hour premiere that finds Bones (Emily Deschanel) and Booth (David Boreanaz) lecturing in London, only to be drawn into a case.

"Bones" has a lot to make up for with last season's less-than-stellar finale, in which team member Zach was shown to be the ally for the serial killer Gormogon. Though some of the blame lays with the WGA strike that shortened the season, the storyline was borderline ludicrous. In fact, "Bones" in general is plagued by somewhat silly weekly plots; what makes it worthwhile is the chemistry within the cast, especially the Deschanel-Boreanaz dynamic, one of TV's best non-couples.

"America's Next Top Model" (CW, 8 p.m.) kicks off a new seasons, while "Greatest American Dog" (CBS, 8 p.m.) continues to wind down.


Jonathan said...

Good to hear about "Anarchy." I find Ron Perlman to be one of the more interesting actors out there, and judging from the "Hellboy" films and "Blade II," the guy can play a badass like no one else.

"The Shield" had a great season premiere last night; I was only a casual viewer in the past, and I actually sat down this summer and watched the first six seasons. I have to say I'm kind of glad I did it that way because I would have hated waiting a year and a half after the season six finale; this way I only had to wait a couple of days.

Phillip Ramati said...

Perlman is perfectly cast in this role and is another of the series' high points.

All I can tell you about The Shield, having seen the next seven already, is that you ain't seen nothing yet.

zodin2008 said...

I second Jonathan on Perlman and would add Katey Segal. Perlman has been awesome as a bad ass.

I never really thought about Segal's acting ability when she was playing Peg Bundy on "Married w/ Children", but after seeing a more nuanced performance as John Locke's (Terry O'Quinn) great love during "Lost" flashbacks, it dawned on me that Segal can act.

Though having not seen them together, I imagine Perlman and Segal will have some great chemistry and in fact maybe the perfect biker version of Tony & Carmella Soprano.

I hadn't intended on watching this series but after your review, Phillip, I will. But with a 2 hour "Bones" and the "premier" of John McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, not to mention that I haven't yet watched "The Shield" premier, I hope to record "Anarchy" and watch at a later date.

As for "Bones", I never liked the character of Zack that much and was glad to see him be revealed as Gorgomon's sidekick.

Jonathan said...

Segal was also great in a couple of episodes of "The Shield."

As for "Bones," I wish they would just go back to whatever was working in the 2nd season. That was just week-to-week brilliance; along with the well written characters, the mysteries were even interesting which they were not at all last season. I do feel that they were rushed in the end of last year, but that doesn't explain the slow and dull beggining to the season. Here's hoping for the best.

Phillip Ramati said...

Zod, Sons is definitely worth your time.

Yes, the Sarah Palin speech is tonight and can be seen on all of the networks.

Jonathan, yes, Bones was very uneven last season, in part due to the strike. I don't mind them trying to do a bigger story arc; they just need to do a better job of it.

AJK said...

I have to tell you, I think that ANARCHY is one of the best shows to come out of FX and cable in general in a long time. Over the past several years with cable coming up with stuff like The Shield, SONS, Burn Notice and whathaveyou, the networks had better watch out.

Phillip Ramati said...

Thanks for the note, AJK. Glad you like the show. I do as well, though I could have done without the grisly ending from Wednesday.

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