There are a lot of television series out there on cable, satellite, even terrestrial TV, but none better than the hardest hitting drama, action and gritty series as SOA – Sons of Anarchy.
Sons of Anarchy first rode onto our screens 3rd September 2008 (America) and almost (if not) immediately, the show was an overnight success, and why not? The Direction, the Production, the actor’s and even the locations were completely spot on – so what made it so successful?
Pilot Episode 1 First Aired: 9/3/08
“Jax grows weary of the increasing lawlessness of the motorcycle club he is involved with. His life becomes more unstable when he discovers his late father’s true vision for the Sons of Anarchy, and his crank-addicted ex-wife gives birth to his son.”
When the minority of people interested in the television series sat down to watch Sons of Anarchy for the first time, exactly what they got, was what they were expected to find from such a high octane action drama collaboration of Hell’s Angels on wheels, crime and the absence of law. To the majority, however, who saw that SOA, it was this smoke screen for a guise in which the glorification of crazy bikers battened down inside a small town by the name of Charming that they heard second hand that the show from FX had become hugely popular – and only then did they decide to tune in and start following the storylines week after week.
The real formula in the success was never from the creation of the sub plots, the motorcycles or the differences between the common person and the outlaws. The real formula came from the strength of the entire cast and the crew that put them together as a measure of pulling in the viewers, though the trick wasn’t in introducing Ron Perlman (Clay Morrow) as a temporary MC President, but to introduce him and his character wife Katey Sagal (Gemma Teller-Morrow) as regular stars in what was to become one of the best Action Dramas the world had seen. With Ron Perlman (Hellboy) and Katy Sagal (Married With Children), the formula of a sub-story had viewers looking into them as they would any other couple on the edge of life. The immediate introduction of Charlie Hunnam (Jax Teller) from Byker Grove and Green Street Hooligans fame, the story could only take a hold of the viewer’s emotions and fuse them into one conclusion – this show was going to be awesome.
Allow us to explain a few fine details of “Sons of Anarchy” for you before we reveal our findings on this American Show.
Charlie Hunnam … Jackson ‘Jax’ Teller (56 episodes, 2008-2011)
Katey Sagal … Gemma Teller Morrow (56 episodes, 2008-2011)
Mark Boone Junior … Robert Munson (56 episodes, 2008-2011)
Kim Coates … Alex ‘Tig’ Trager (56 episodes, 2008-2011)
Tommy Flanagan … Filip ‘Chibs’ Telford (56 episodes, 2008-2011)
Maggie Siff … Tara Knowles (56 episodes, 2008-2011)
Ron Perlman … Clarence ‘Clay’ Morrow (53 episodes, 2008-2011)
Theo Rossi … Jean Carlos ‘Juice’ Ortiz (53 episodes, 2008-2011)
William Lucking … Piermont ‘Piney’ Winston (52 episodes, 2008-2011)
Ryan Hurst … Harry ‘Opie’ Winston (50 episodes, 2008-2011)
Dayton Callie … Chief Wayne Unser (49 episodes, 2008-2011)
David Labrava … Happy (34 episodes, 2008-2011)
Johnny Lewis … Kip ‘Half Sack’ Epps (26 episodes, 2008-2009)
Winter Ave Zoli … Lyla (24 episodes, 2009-2011)
Storyline (Not ours):-
Sons of Anarchy aka SAMCRO, is a motorcycle club that operates both illegal and legal businesses in the small town of Charming. They combine gun-running and a garage, plus involvement in porn film. Clay, the president, likes it old school and violent; while Jax, his stepson and the club’s VP, has thoughts about changing the way things are, based on his dead father’s journal. Their conflict has effects on both the club and their personal relationships. Written by Pia
Did You Know?
According to an interview with Kurt Sutter, the pilot episode was entirely shot with actor Scott Glenn in the role of Clay Morrow. After deciding to go in a different direction with the character, the role was re-cast with Ron Perlman and Clay’s scenes were re-shot. Also, in the pilot there is still a scene where you can spot Scott Glenn as Clay, after they blow up the warehouse at the end of the episode there is a shot of the Sons running away from the explosion. Scott Glenn can be seen in the foreground and you can also see Emilio Rivera in the group as he was originally cast as a member of SAMCRO but then re-cast as the leader of their rival gang; The Mayans.
Many of the shots in the first season were shot around the SoCal town of Tujunga with some specifically being shot at the local high school Verdugo Hills High.
‘Katey Segal’ (Gemma) is the real life partner of show creator Kurt Sutter, since October 2004.
The phone tapping device used by the Federal agents in season 2 is in actuality Pro-Tools software running off a laptop and connected to an M-Box interface. In real life it’s used for audio recording and editing, not wiretapping.
Katey Sagal’s (Gemma) son in real life is named Jackson. Her character Gemma is mother to Jackson ‘Jax’.
Official Sons of Anarchy Website:- The FX Channel
The DVD Archive Review “Sons of Anarchy”
SAMCRO is a large part of the Original Chapter (First 9) MC “Sons of Anarchy”, where the President Clay Morror runs a Motorcycle Club in the Californian town of Charming. Jax, Clay Morrow’s wife’s son and SOA VP (Vice President), is torn between the life of the MC and his personal life when his crank-addicted wife almost loses Jax’s son while giving birth. When Abel, Jax’s son is born, Wendy is told that she must stay away from Abel – and Jax, too.
The everyday business of the MC Garage, both the legal and illegal sides bring the storyline’s on a road journey – the truth about Jax’s biological father, John Teller, the Founding Member and Redwood Original First 9 President to the SOA. Only when Jax’s mother, Gemma hands over his father’s old boxes does Jax come across all of John’s journal’s and so begins her son’s path of seeking out the real reasons of why the Club was started up and what kind of man his father really was.
Fraught with cryptic and sometimes enlightening information, the sequence of events open up a lot of old wounds, and bring back ghosts that should remain buried, especially as Clay now sits at the head of the Gravel and commands the Chapter Members. Leading them all through the highs and lows of a life many would never choose, it is the lifestyle and future of the SOA MC that Jax has to believe in…fight for if he has to, but in the end, truth is his goal and the safety of his family.
The DVD Archive Review:-
When we looked around the Internetwork for the finer details on this series to complete our research and bring our viewers the solid Review which they need to know, we came across many ‘Reviews’ of personal attitudes toward the SOA. Many were disgruntled, while many sounding off simply because they found the need to shout about something that they didn’t understand, or maybe it was because they were feeling as if their favourite show of Frazier or Home Improvements was to be axed in making way for SOA. To be honest, Home Improvements is pretty OK in our book, so there’s no problem there. However, Sons of Anarchy and the four series survival – which didn’t lag or differ in any way, shape or form – has shown that it can co-exist with anything that is put by its side.
Sons of Anarchy has been the depictions of ‘Biker Gangs’ in the US and others across the world, although the storylines are deeply fictitious and glorified in only one way – to make great viewing. The glorification of the Sons of Anarchy is by no means the vent or guideline to encourage those who are big fans to go out and join up with an MC, whether it be the UK Blue Angels, or other Biking Groups. The life of the biker is not always like SAMCRO or the Sons of Anarchy, though, there is one thing that is as true as the Harley Davidson being the greatest motorcycle on the planet – Being a part of the MC, Biker Group is ALL about family – and protecting that family.
The first season of Sons of Anarchy takes the viewer through the basics of who’s who, before the real work on lifting the lid on SAMCRO begins. Showing detailed accounts (Sometimes graphically) of how business is conducted in both the legal and illegal capacities, we are dragged from the calm and serene surrounds of Charming Town into a chaotic world of gun fights, fist slugs and end game results that no-one on both sides of the MC want to see – but have to endure to keep going.
The introduction and sustaining of Gemma, Clay, Jax and the other Sons have given the perfect start to Season One, while the continued storylines surrounding Wendy, Abel’s Mom and Jax’s son leave the anchor point of reality to a world outside which is filled with uncertainty – and unfortunately death.
The various other MC’s that cross the path of the Sons of Anarchy add to the essence which has made this series so popular, as with the likes of the Mayans, Darby and finally the two battle stricken Cartels who are looking for the direct pipeline of weapons through the Irish Kings – the IRA. If these were to be deducted from the scenario of the Sons of Anarchy, or god forbid they were never put into the storylines, then the assumption we draw is that SOA would have joined so many other series that died a swift, grim death. As it is, the introduction of the ATF and CIA squeezing between the Sons of Anarchy has led Kurt Sutter into a hard place of solace to write on. And with the conformation of Season Five and Season Six being drawn up, the future of the Sons of Anarchy can only go one way…in our book this is either a highly charged explosive ending, or a damp fused sizzle ending where all those still angered with the lame and pathetic ending of “Lost”, take their frustration out on the Sons of Anarchy Forums with words many people have never heard before.
The Sons of Anarchy is one of the greatest and most refreshing television series’ to grace our screens in a long time, not to mention surprisingly accepted by those who are not of the Biker life; not that anyone watching this series has to be into Denim and Leather, Harley’s or Honda’s, Love or Violence.
The DVD Archive Rating:-
After summing up all the details and facts on The Sons of Anarchy, we found it hard not to fault the series creativity, the plots and sub-plots, the reality escapes and glamorised backgrounds of these characters’. It is therefore the decision as Brothers and Sisters of The DVD Archive, that we say “Aye” to SOA/SAMCRO and give it the following score.
Season 1 (10/10), Season 2 (9/10), Season 3 (10/10) and Season 4 (9/10).
The DVD Archives Favourite Episode:-
There are so many great episodes throughout the four series’ of SOA that it is, without a doubt, hard to decide on one single episode. Saying this we have decided on choosing two episodes in the last season (Before Season 5 and 6 start to air), which are…
To Be, Act 1 Episode 13 29/11/11
In Part 1 of the two-part Season 4 finale, Jax faces a new challenge that threatens his family and SAMCRO.
To Be, Act 2
Episode 14 6/12/11
Jax tries to finalize a deal with the Irish and the cartel, but it isn’t as easy as he thought.
Kurt Sutter Biography
Date of Birth
5 May 1960, USA
Raised in the shadow of Rahway prison, Sutter spent most of his New Jersey childhood indoors, away from people, three feet from a TV screen. That’s where he learned the essentials of storytelling and the comic significance of anvils.
After graduating from Rutgers University with a BA in Film, Kurt spent several years as an actor in NYC, performing in off-Broadway theatres, lofts and holding cells. His theatre training led to teaching and directing and in the mid-nineties he joined the faculty of The Gately-Poole Acting Studio on Theatre Row, teaching the Sanford Meisner Technique and directing productions at The Nat Horne Theatre.
In 1997, Kurt was awarded an MFA Fellowship to attend Northern Illinois University. In Chicago, Kurt’s exposure to the dramatic masters – Strindberg, O’Neill, Genet – inspired him, and he began writing plays and cultivating ideas for the screen. After graduating with a Master of Fine Arts, Sutter moved to Los Angeles where he began writing. In 2001, he landed a gig on FX’s, “The Shield”. Starting as a staff writer, he stayed on “The Shield” its entire seven season run, finishing up the last two seasons as Executive Producer.
Kurt continues his relationship with FX, with his new critically acclaimed series, “Sons of Anarchy”. Along with his TV work, Sutter has feature projects in development at Warner Brothers and Paramount.
Sutter and wife actor/singer, Katey Sagal, live in Los Angeles with their three children Sarah, Jackson and Esmé. And their three dogs, Lola, Lumpy and Blue.
Katey Sagal (2 October 2004 – present) 1 child
Brother-in-law of Jean Sagal, Liz Sagal and Joey Sagal.
Kurt suffers from Pediophobia – a fear of dolls.
[on ‘Sons of Anarchy] I’d like to think that, when we’re pushing the envelope, it’s never gratuitous. Ultimately, the world this story takes place in, the subculture, is really background for what I like to think of as a family drama. It’s a love story between a man and his wife. To make characters like the ‘Sons’ palatable for an audience, you have to stress those elements of brotherhood and family and love.
I met a group of guys from that world at a rally about a month and a half ago, and they said an interesting thing: that this show has ultimately become a good PR vehicle for outlaw clubs, from acceptance from the general public all the way to law enforcement. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. But I was glad.
© Marcus De Storm/ The DVD Archive 2012/ The Network 2012