Review: FX 'Sons of Anarchy' a great tale of ‘Mother knows best’
By April MacIntyre Sep 3, 2008, 20:00 GMT
06/28/2008 - Katey Sagal and Kurt Sutter - 2008 Los Angeles Film Festival - Arrivals - Mann Village Theater - Westwood, CA, USA © Glenn Harris / PR Photos
Actress Katey Sagal married well. Her husband, Kurt Sutter, creator of FX’s latest excellent series, “Sons of Anarchy,” really grasps his wife’s impressive acting capabilities and range.
He penned the perfect character of Gemma Teller Morrow - the matriarch of the biker organized family “Sons of Anarchy” - for Sagal to play. She does so in a real tour-de-force performance, fierce and manipulative in an Oz-like fashion.
The series presents as a testosterone-filled tale of “bros” on bikes, but don’t be fooled, it is Sagal’s Morrow who runs this tawdry and compelling show.
Set out in the remote aridness of Northeastern California, the FX series plays like a thickly layered white-trash “Sopranos” and has all the vividness, grit and intrigue that great series like HBO’s “Rome” and Showtime’s “The Brotherhood” possessed.
This is no one time look-see pilot; you will be hooked on the Morrow family drama immediately.
The FX series airs tonight, 10 ET/PT.
Sagal’s cougarette Gemma is now the wife of Anarchy’s president Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman), president of the Sons of Anarchy (SAMCRO); he was her late first husband’s aide-de-camp when the biker group started out.
Sutter cut his TV writer’s teeth on the great FX series, “The Shield”, and has assembled a crack cast and delivered them perfectly sculpted and authentic dialogue that never feels false; the actors all are given great moments to reveal their unique qualities and organic placement within the gang hierarchy.
Sagal spoke to Monsters and Critics on a conference call a few weeks back and shared her thoughts about Gemma. "Gemma is not interested in seeking any redemption. She believes she is doing right by her family, and will continue to protect them all, she doesn’t think anything she is doing is wrong."
It is the ironclad loyalty that Gemma has towards her son, Jax (Charlie Hunnam), the golden-haired prince to Anarchy’s drugs and arms-sales operations, that is always in the forefront of her mind.
Jax is complex - no saint - he cannot bring himself to execute in cold-blooded fashion. He is presented as a paradox and given intelligence and sex appeal that is feral, always under the surface. He is both unpredictable and predictable; his mother knows him best.
Perlman’s physical chemistry with Sagal is powerful. He is a man’s man, no doubt, but together in frame, Clay and Gemma move and feel like a real couple in lustful love; this is not an easy accomplishment in casting.
Sutter and his producers have taken a revealing look inside motorcycle club culture that shows they did their homework. There are no caricatures, simply characters who all were disenfranchised one way or another and were drawn to the Anarchy coda that lets them exist comfortably outside the grid.
Again, in a great tip of the hat to the writers, there are clever subtle comedic undertones and certainly no clear-cut heroes and anti-heroes.
Everyone in Charming, their small California town, has ethics issues.
The remaining cast are all in top form and enjoyable to watch, as they maneuver the power structure of the fractured family and battle their own demons while bringing income into the SAMCRO coffers.
"Sopranos" star Drea de Matteo play Wendy, Jax's addict ex-wife pregnant with his child. Her scenes with Sagal's Gemma are outstanding television.
Mitch Pileggi of "Stargate: Atlantis," plays recently released from prison, white supremacist Darby who wants to bring down the Sons of Anarchy.
Highly recommended, not for kids or sensitive viewers.