Monday, November 09, 2009

'Sons of Anarchy' finds another gear - Sepinwall on TV

In today's column, I continue to sing the praises of "Sons of Anarchy," which has a sensational episode coming up tomorrow night:
There’s been a lot of talk lately about how setting an end date can be a shot in the arm to a drama series. “Lost,” “The Shield” and “Battlestar Galactica” all took major upswings in quality after their creators were allowed to start planning toward a specific finish. When you don’t have to worry about being on the air past a certain date, you can take greater risks, not worry about maintaining the status quo — or, in some cases, about keeping characters alive — and the stakes feel higher, the drama richer.

FX’s “Sons of Anarchy” has somehow reached that higher gear without having the finish line anywhere in sight. It’s in only its second season, one of the most successful scripted shows on cable (it made headlines a few weeks ago for finishing ahead of Jay Leno in the 18-to-49 demographic), and FX no doubt wants to keep it on the air for a long, long time. (The cable channel, which tends to be conservative about renewals, has yet to formally order a third season.)

But “Sons” creator Kurt Sutter (a Jersey guy and former “Shield” writer) doesn’t seem to be worrying about the long-term right now.
You can read the full review here. If you're not watching and like good drama, folks, you need to start.

And, obviously, I'll be doing a more thorough review after the episode finishes tomorrow night (which will be around 11:30; it's a super-sized ep).

20 comments:

paulf said...

Just caught up - watched seven episodes yesterday. Great season.

Jake said...

Can't wait for tomorrow's episode!! I hope FX will go ahead and renew for season 3..It's only going to get better..And with a 7 season arc it could be that some of the major players start getting even darker...

Eyeball Wit said...

Okay, Alan, you convinced me (especially with all my other shows--Mad Men, Breaking Bad, US of Tara--between seasons.)
But how do I start? Can I start with this week's episode and figure out what's gong on?
F/X doesn't do On Demand, so the Big Catch up (as I did with Mad Men) is tougher.
Dive in, or slog through?

Sara J. said...

Tomorrow's episode is 90 minutes of SOA goodness. This show truly has it all - incredible plot line, expert casting, a good balance between gratuitous violence and the battle to do good for the community of Charming.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Dive in, or slog through?

iTunes and Amazon Unbox have both seasons one and two, I believe. Ideally, if you can start midway through season one (around episode 7) and move forward, what's happening now will mean a whole lot more than if you just jump in with tomorrow's episode.

gina said...

Thanks for continuing to spread the good word on SOA, Alan I try to, in my small way, and I think I was able to bring a new prospect into the fold on Friday night. Every little bit helps!

JanieJones said...

I am looking forward to a longer SOA episode tomorrow night, especially with Titus Welliver appearing. This season has had a copious amount of quality and impact with the viewer. Kurt Sutter has done a fantastic job this season. The actor's have been phenomenal. The only other show that competes for my attention this much is Mad Men. Alan, I look forward to your more thorough review after tomorrow night's episode.

Hatfield said...

Eyeball Wit, as much as the sixth or seventh episode is when the overall conflicts that are still resonating now take shape, I'm a firm believer in the whole series, and I say start from the beginning.

Alan, I almost wish I hadn't read this, because now I'm even more impatient for tomorrow at 10. Ever since the fleeting glance of Welliver in the previews from last week's episode I've been going crazy thinking about about how good this could really be. And Deadwood fans know from his initial appearance on that show what a badass he can be.

One can only hope that, with Sutter already giving us Dayton Callie and Titus Welliver, the next logical step is to find a way to make Ian McShane the big bad next season.

Such a great show. You mention FX being conservative, but I seem to remember SOA being renewed about five episodes in last season, so could the delay mean that they're either haggling with Sutter and co. or planning a multi-season renewal?

Hatfield said...

Gah, I ended two straight sentences with "be." That's what I get for trying to type with Skip Bayless shouting in the background.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Sutter says on his blog that he's not worried about the renewal, and that the third season negotiation is often the one that takes the longest, for a variety of reasons.

Alan Sepinwall said...

And I agree that starting at the beginning is best, Hatfield. But for purposes of time and money (since the downloads aren't free), starting at 107 is the best compromise I can come up with.

Anonymous said...

Good advice Alan

The next 4 episodes seem like they are going to take a lot out of us
prepping myself for tomorrow

meopta said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
meopta said...

Shoot! Please delete that - I really apologize, wrong browser window and a VERY red face. My regrets to everyone!!

Anonymous said...

Eyeball Wit I just checked and hulu and they have episodes 6-8 up they also have episode recaps for season 2 about 5 minutes each - good luck catching up

Hatfield said...

Yeah, I often forget about the money aspect, since I watched the first season as it happened and then ran to Hollywood Video to rewatch it before this season started. Netflix members will be happy to know they seem to have lots of copies of the first season. And thanks for the link to Sutter's blog!

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised you don't include The Sopranos on your list of shows that only became better after its creator set an end date. I recently watched all 21 episodes of the 'final season' on DVD over a span of 6 days and I'm convinced it's the greatest season in the history of televised drama. It's just so brilliantly constructed and really only works if you accept the premise that Tony dies in the final scene. I was just curious about your thoughts on this.

Carolyn said...

YAY SONS OF ANARCHY

I love this show a truly unreasonable amount. Life is now just making it through the week between episodes for that hour (or hour and a half tonight!) of heaven.

Anonymous said...

Love love love this show. Get a kick out of all my MC guys glued to this like women to Sex in the City. The best is the ridiculous amount of devotion to naming each other the characters. My ol' man showed up in sneakers on his bike the other day rockin' his Jax look. I didn't even think the boots left his feet. LOL, doesn't get any better than intelligent writing, great casting and the extra kick of violence.

Anonymous said...

I love your comments and views on SOA..my favorite show. You truly seem to "get it". So excited about tonight's 90 minutes! And equally looking forward to your review later.