I’ve known my friend Cinesnob for a long, long time; that’s why I can call him that and he won’t be offended. Oh, also he’s a Teflon-coated New Yorker and they don’t much care about other people’s silly opinions.
Cinesnob usually recommends films, without fail they are introspective, intellectual, abstract or surreal. Sometimes its all of the above. He has never recommended a TV series, so I was surprised when he recommended this one to me over the summer.
The series is ongoing but started in 2008, so luckily most of the previous seasons are free to stream on Amazon Prime. I finished watching the first season tonight and I have to say I like. Not for the same reasons as Cinesnob but that’s to be expected given our different perspectives.
While I was a little bored with the first two episodes, in retrospect, I see that these were necessary for character and plot development. Given the show is a Hell’s Angels version of the Sopranos, I was not entirely sold on the casting choice for the protagonist; he initially came off as more tortured surfer dude than cast-iron biker but that facade melted away. The casting for the central characters is near perfect which must have been challenging given these characters are large and formidable. The story line after the first two episodes is compelling, if only because there are so many insinuations to darker pasts for the main characters. Action is balanced with introspection, dilemmas are tilted and skewed for the moral distribution of outlaw psychology, brutality coexists with equal compassion, often I find myself laughing out loud at the pitch-black humor.
While there are many reasons to watch, the biggest reason so far is the outstanding performance from Katey Sagal. I did not recognize the 80’s Married With Children star at all, so I was intrigued when I followed the IMDB links to her other works. Her character is the polar opposite to Peg Bundy – bold, calculating, unchallenged. I would say Sagal will be remembered as Gemma Morrow, the hard-boiled queen of mythical Charming, Ca.
The last two episodes of Season 1 are a daisy cutter of misinformation, poor decisions, cover ups and unresolved family implosion. So much so that I will likely tune in to see what happens next for the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Redwood Originals.