The timing of Sons is obviously gauged to take advantage of the latest mid-life crisis which requires men my age to buy Harleys and spend their weekends pretending to be outlaw bikers.
Sons of Anarchy shows real potential as a worthy successor to The Sopranos - The Complete Series episodic brand of voyeurism. Sons offers to take us into the lives of those who live outside the social contracts (or constraints) most of us take for granted. However, unlike The Sopranos, the Sons are not a criminal version of royalty (a status bestowed by endless viewings of The Godfather DVD Collection .) Instead they are, (as described by another reviewer) "relatable." These are, for the most part, average joes, who've chosen to live outside the requirement to be a part of the herd or to "go along to get along."
Whether we actually practice it or not, the American ideal (or myth) is that of the rugged individualists, who band together to oppose the bureaucracy that wants to force these square pegs into round holes. Think of Rooster Cogburn in True Grit.
And that's the legend that Sons of Anarchy is based on. The basic concept is that the SAMCRO's (Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club - Redwood Originals) are latter-day Knights Errant. Following in the footsteps of Jesse James and John Dillinger (if you believe that they were only stealing from the villainous landlord or grasping banker and not the hard-working farmer) these outlaw bikers exist to protect their community from the evils of dope-dealing white supremacists and the rival Mayan motorcycle club. And that's where they lost me, at least a little bit.
I grew up in Fontana, California, with a family full of 1 %'ers (the one-percenter nom de plume arose after the 1947 Hollister riots, when the America Motorcycle Association famously proclaimed that "99% of motorcycle riders were decent citizens" and "1%" were outlaws.) The brotherhood is undeniable - every member was loyal to the patch and would do anything and everything he could to help another brother.
But the loyalty was entirely to the club - if you weren't patched you were just strangers, worthy of no more consideration than the bug that slammed into your teeth as you roared your Harley down Route 66. The idea of them banding together to protect their city, or even their block, just left me a little incredulous. However, I'm nit-picking - this is fiction and I need to be more forgiving.
So now that I've aired my petty grievances, let me tell you what I loved.
This is probably the finest cast on the small screen I've seen in a long, long time. Even though the story is theoretically about Jackson "Jax" Teller (played by Charlie Hunnam), it was Rob Perlman (of Hellboy fame) and Katey Sagal (finally escaping from Married with Children) that were the most realistic characters and really made the show. While Jax is an interesting character and was obviously designed drive the main themes of the show, I couldn't help but wonder how this brooding prince (think Hamlet) was able to rise to the level of vice-prez without committing some horrific act of violence, which the show promises to have a lot of.
Sons was created by Kurt Sutter, a writer and executive producer on The Shield so you know he's going to keep this series gritty and as realistic as possible.
Sons promises a lot and I'm looking forward to the next episode. Now if only I could convince my wife to let me buy a Harley...