FX, not unlike HBO, has conditioned me to give all their new original series a shot whenever they debut. Some I stick with, some I drop from my DVR as fast as humanly possible. I love The History Channel's show Gangland, especially the episodes about outlaw biker gangs, so when FX debuted a series about an outlaw biker gang called Sons Of Anarchy last year, well, I was on board. I was hooked instantly. The show follows a similar approach to The Sopranos and fellow FX series The Shield, where the protagonists are likable and you find yourself cheering for them even though they are criminals and truly terrible people. Well, maybe the main character, Jax, isn't quite Tony Soprano or Vic Mackey, but he is certainly no angel. Jax is the VP of the SOA club and Peggy Bundy, uh, I mean Katey Sagal, does a tremendous job in the role of his mother Gemma, who is a complete cut-throat, bitch on wheels. Ron Perlman (Hellboy) plays Clay, who is the President of the SOA club, Jax's moral opposite (for the most part...they'll both kill people, but they have differences in opinion on who deserves to die) and his main antagonist. In a nice twist, Clay is married to Gemma, thus making him Jax's stepfather as well. Lots of other "Oh, I know that guy/girl" actors and actresses are on the show (including "Charlie" from Deadwood as the cancer stricken, saggy shouldered town sheriff that the Sons have in their back pocket). The show is brimming with tension, back stabbing, manipulation, love, anger, murder, mystery, good guys, bad guys and everything else you want in a drama. But perhaps most importantly, you care about the characters. You may hate them, you may love them, you make take pity on them, but you feel something towards them.
Season 2 debuted this past Tuesday and when it was over, my jaw was on the ground. I'm not going to give anything away, but.....I mean, just wow. If they were looking to hook viewers in for the rest of the season, then they succeeded. I also love the casting of Henry Rollins as a spiteful, unlikeable (not that any of them are likable) white supremacist that the gang will be feuding with this season.
If you are a fan of the previously mentioned The Sopranos and The Shield and shows of that nature, then Sons Of Anarchy should be right up your alley. Watching Season 1 would obviously help make Season 2 more understandable, but I think it would be safe to jump right into Season 2 without fear of being totally and completely lost. After all, this show isn't, um, well Lost.
One more thing to note (and like) about the show is their excellent music placement. [Side Note: Doesn't being the person in charge of music placement for TV shows sound like an amazing job? Sure, you have to deal with the hassle of getting the songs cleared, getting publishers, artists, etc. to sign off, plowing through all the legal paperwork and so on and so forth, but the creativity and chance to expose viewers to music they've never heard of before sounds like an incredibly fun and rewarding opportunity.] In Season 2's opener, the final (gripping and tense) scene used a cover of Bob Dylan's "Girl From The North Country" by the Austin, TX band Lions. I was on the computer instantly after the episode ended trying to figure out who the band was. Sons Of Anarchy does have a music guide for each episode, but as of yesterday they hadn't updated Season 2 yet. I was able to figure out what the song was by scanning through the fans forum. It can be purchased on iTunes, but doesn't appear to be available anywhere else (for the time being at least). I can't vouch for the rest of the band's catalog as I'm not familiar with them, but this song is definitely worth well more than the .99 cents iTunes is charging for it.
Lions "Girl From The North Country":