Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sons of Anarchy, "Seeds": Son of a biker man

Brief spoilers for episode two of "Sons of Anarchy" coming up just as soon as I run down to the convenience store for an axe...

This is the second and last episode I got to see in advance, and as I said in last week's review, I'm not sold yet.

In the middle of a long interview with Mo Ryan, Shawn Ryan says that Kurt Sutter (once a "Shield" writer, now this show's creator) "was always into the big, complicated, mythology stuff," and you can definitely see a lot of Vic and Shane's more convoluted antics in Jax's attempt to get the corpses removed from the explosion site without any additional bloodshed. But as I've been saying about "The Shield" the last few weeks, the big and complicated stuff works best when it's anchored to a character we really care about, and I'm not there with anyone on this show yet. There are some interesting characters, and Katey Sagal has really stood out as the villainous Gemma ("You wanna touch me, sweetheart? That make you happy?"), but Charlie Hunnam hasn't popped the way Michael Chiklis did in the first few "Shield"s, and that puts a damper on this kind of storytelling.

But there aren't any other Wednesday at 10 shows I'm addicted to (though I'll sample "Dirty Sexy Money" again when it comes back), and there are enough intriguing pieces here that I'm going to ride this out for a while longer.

In the meantime, a few random notes:

• All those references to "Sam Crow" were confusing me until I started thumbing through the typically elaborate FX press kit. It's actually SAMCRO, for "Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club - Redwood Original." Now if someone could just clarify the "Redwood Original" part, I'm all good to go.

• In a former life, Katey Sagal was a professional singer, and so when that cover of "Son of a Preacher Man" started, I began wondering if it was her doing the vocal. Sure enough, it's her, a recording done specifically for the episode.

• Dayton Callie! "Deadwood" may be gone (and "John from Cincinnati," too, which temporarily employed much of the "Deadwood" cast), but before this TV season's over, virtually every castmember will have a regular or recurring gig on some other show. It ain't much, but it was amusing to imagine Sheriff Unser as a distant ancestor of Charlie Utter.

What did everybody else think?


Mo Ryan said...


er, yeah, agreed. I didn't get the SAMCRO stuff at all, I thought Sam Crow was a person. Then I saw the initials on a jacket and sort of half-got it.

Speaking of Deadwood vest, the main reason to watch True Blood - the 2.3 minutes per week that William Sanderson is in it. Paired up with Chris Bauer from the Wire, that's some old-skool HBO gold right there.

afoglia said...

Thanks for clearing up the Sam Crow thing. I kept thinking it was the name of Ron Perelman's character. (Oddly though, I recognized his as Clay when Opie and his father were talking about him outside the club.)

One of the reviews I read hinted that there are other SoA clubs in other towns, but the Charming one was the first, hence "original." I don't understand the redwoods though, since Charming looks like Southern California, far from the redwoods.

Here's the quote from the Houston Chronicle review: "Clay is president of SAMCRO — an acronym for Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original, the first club in what has become an international network." I don't think they're right though, SAMCRO doesn't seem powerful enough to be international.

Anyway, I'm with you on the opinion. I'm interested where it will go, but I'm not hooked. Nothing else is on against it, so I'll keep watching.

Anonymous said...

I rather liked the second episode, a lot. I do agree it's difficult to care about some of these characters, they're not UNLIKABLE, but difficult to get invested in.

With the exception of Opie and Donna, the struggling couple. I was SO sure they were going to kill off Opie when he showed up again (because I was genuinely surprised when Jax told him to just stay home last week) but no, he's sticking around. Donna and Gemma's confrontation in the parking lot really crackled. Grayden's finally grown enough as an actress she's got a real force to her.

I bet this is going to be Noah Bennett syndrome, where the supporting characters force their way into the narrative because they're more fun and interesting to write about than the main characters (I know I didn't really care about Heroes until Bennett reacted to his daughter's rapist/murderer in the last way I expected him to). Mark my words, Opie and Donna will be regulars by season's end, if not the next season. And some of the other characters will fade into the background.

Also, Lucking and Hurst as father and son? Smart casting there.

Kim Coates needs to do more, too (actually, he would have been great as Clay, not that I'm knocking Pearlman).

Jon88 said...

"But there aren't any other Wednesday at 10 shows I'm addicted to" Sacrilege, I know, but you could do what I did at 10 on Wednesday: turn off the television.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Sacrilege, I know, but you could do what I did at 10 on Wednesday: turn off the television.

But this isn't your job, is it?

Andy Asensio said...

It's both SAMCRO and Sam Crow. SAMCRO is the acronym of the organization, yes, but both the series and the characters seem to use "Sam Crow" as an anthropomorphization of the institution. Most notably, John Teller's journal/manuscript title page read "The Life and Death of Sam Crow." We're clearly supposed to think of SAMCRO/"Sam Crow" like a living, breathing individual. It started off childlike and naive, and then grew into a powerful adult, but right now, just as in the case of the Teller family heart condition, the institution is sick and constantly fighting for its life. It can live, or it can die, just like a person.

It's almost like the inverse David Simon. We're so used to the Simon-verse idea that institutions are constant and unchangeable, but this is something completely different, where the organization is just as beholden to human frailty as any of the characters.

Bret LaGree said...

Unfortunately, Charlie Hunnam's American accent here isn't far removed from the comedy American accent he used on Undeclared when Lloyd prepared to audition for True West.

Anonymous said...

I'll be watching Dirty Sexy Money when it comes back.

Anonymous said...

The show does not take place in SoCal. I don't think so, anyways. THroughout the show they talk about Oakland and Lodi. That is in the Bay Area and in Northern California. Maybe that's where they get the Redwood thing from. The FX website also makes a mention of why it's called Redwood Original. Apparently they don't have a city of origin or something like that.

Jon88 said...

"But this isn't your job, is it?"

Once you've reviewed a show, I don't fault you for moving on to other things. As much as I enjoy and appreciate the recaps of shows I do and don't watch, I don't feel I have the right to expect you to try to keep up with everything. Especially if it's a show you find wanting. Let Tim Goodman have this one and find something else that will make you happier!

MDS said...

I'm generally enjoying this show so far, although in both of the episodes that have aired, there were moments where I found myself thinking "this is just stereotypical TV drama stuff."

Ep. 1 featured the premature birth of Abel and whether or not he'd live. That seemed a little formulaic and more of a plot device (a weak one) to drive character development (it didn't, at least for me).

The end of ep. 2 featured the staple of TV dramas, the slow-mo shot of the family around the dinner table.

Maybe I'm spoiled by The Shield, but I was surprised to see this from an FX drama.

Anonymous said...

"Charming" seems to be in San Joaquin County (the county sherrif in their pocket is the San Joaquin county sherrif). Part of the (very extended) SF Bay Area as the San Joaquin river delta joins to the SF Bay at its extreme east. So, believable that their market area for gun-dealing would include Oakland.

Although it is technically Northern CA, the landscape can have a So Cal-ish look, especially in the summer. The Redwood connection is a stretch -- though Muir Woods in Marin county would be relatively close -- say within 2 hours or so depending on how far east and south Charming is.

Unknown said...

Original Redwood could be a play on The various Peckerwood gangs appear to be concentrated largely in California, where they participate in the methamphetamine trade and have ties to other white supremacist gangs such as the Nazi Low Riders. Peckerwood gang members have been charged with a variety of crimes ranging from dealing drugs to attempted murder. Many gang members sport Peckerwood tattoos to display their affiliations.

Anonymous said...

when SOA talks about redwood, it means the table in the chapel, where they have their meetings or church as we call it, in other words the table is made out of redwood and the original means the original members that sit at the table.

masontruth said...

Thank you for the explanation of SAMCRO/Sam Crow and for the revue of "Sons of Anarchy." I have enjoyed the show and look forward to see where it will be going.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
dark tyler said...

Why is this comment here, dammit? Thanks for the spoiler.

(Alan, you're probably reading this-- please remove the above comment!)

MassPeckerWood said...

I thought "Redwood Original" was for
Redwood City(Bay area).
Confusing cause I always thought that was H.A.'s
territory.I left a few years back though,got sick of going to the"Birdcage"!
I guess thats just the spin
of T.V.?

Anonymous said...

SAMCRO is the acronym for Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club-Redwood Original. The Redwood Original tab is known as the "location bar" located on the fronts of their cuts(vests), and signifies the location of the chapter, when a club wears a state bottom rocker. Some clubs wear a state bottom rocker and some wear a city bottom rocker on the back, in which case no location bar is needed.

Sam Crow (SAMCRO)is also the personification of the club and all that it stands for, or did stand for at one time.

Hope that clears things u for ya,
~Ride on!