Sons of Anarchy: Season Two

Sons of Anarchy: Season Two (2009)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Ron Pearlman, Katey Sagal
Extras: Commentary Tracks, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes

FX is like the 'Little Engine That Could' when it comes to quality television. While HBO and Showtime grab the majority of headlines with their original series, FX continually flies under the radar with great shows like 'Nip/Tuck', 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia', and the recent hit 'Justified'. What many viewers have been chomping at the bit about is 'Sons of Anarchy', a biker filled crime-drama created by Kurt Sutter (known by many as a writer/producer for 'The Shield'). Season one introduced us to 'Jax' Teller (Charlie Hunnam, 'Clay' Morrow (Ron Pearlman) and the rest of the SAMCRO (Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Redwood Originals) gang. The series showcased how greed can poison a crew founded on loyalty to friends and family. While SAMCRO may have had a diverse group of villains, the major conflict is between Jax and Clay. This rivalry set up a thrilling season finale that is guaranteed to change the course of the gang. For those who weren't able to keep up the show on FX, the Blu-Ray version of 'Sons of Anarchy: Season Two' is now revved up and ready to be seen.

With the second season, the boys face a new threat. While the tension between Jax and Clay continues to mount, a new league rolls into Charming, CA with the hopes of pushing the SAMCRO boys out. Lead by Ethan Zobelle (Adam Arkin), LOAN (League of American Nationalists) hits the ground running by setting their sights on Gemma (Katey Sagal). LOAN thug Weston (Henry Rollins) teams up with some other surly men to kidnap and rape Gemma. This is just the beginning of Zobelle's plan to hit the SAMCRO crew where it hurts. This added pressure makes it even more difficult for Jax to see eye to eye with Clay. The gang begins to splinter and pull in revenue from a porn business that Jax has been promoting. These major arcs define the second season of 'Sons of Anarchy' as the show maintains its edge while exploring the complicated relationships between characters.

'Sons of Anarchy' shows that quality drama can come in all shapes and sizes. With the various character introductions and multiple rivals, season one felt a bit scattered at times. Season two is able to focus more on the story since we already have thirteen episodes with the characters under our belts. The stability that LOAN provides as an antagonist allows the show to build on these complex characters while maintaining its reputation as being for mature audiences only. The naked ladies and guns may draw you in, but Kurt Sutter has more in store than eye candy. Fans of 'The Sopranos' may remember the Bada Bing and the iconic kills the series provided, they can also tell you about Tony's mental and health issues. 'Sons of Anarchy' is no different. Greed, the gas in the tank of the series, continues to be the deadly sin that pushes the story along. Characters then make decisions which engage viewers who have an emotional attachment to those who are affected by the choices. This season helps the series take a stronger turn towards the show being remembered more as character driven rather than just flashy, providing a lot of hype for season three.

Many cable companies have their broadcasts in 720p or 1080i, so getting a copy of 'Sons of Anarchy: Season Two' with a 1080p/AVC encoded transfer was a treat. The level of detail is so great, one could almost count each hair in the various beards, goatees, and moustaches the various characters sport. There are some issues with the quality in the darker scenes, but overall the transfer is a solid upgrade.

Wanna get in trouble? Setup a surround sound system in the garage and crank up the 'Sons of Anarchy' lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track full blast when a motorcycle is revved up. Your significant other will run, not trot, to make sure there isn't a real Harley between your legs. Basically, the track is excellent. While an audio upgrade won't benefit many of the television shows that are on Blu-Ray, the gunshots, cycles, and rock 'n roll soundtrack that fill 'Sons of Anarchy' certainly appreciate it. Though some of the quieter dialogue scenes can be a bit difficult to understand, the added element of a fairly aggressive cross-channel surround field is a strong selling point to watching this show on blu-ray rather than FX.

It is always a pleasure to find extra features on a television series. There is a cast/crew commentary for 'Albification', 'Balm', and 'Na Triobloidi'. They are all very laid back, which is an odd change of pace given the tension on the episodes. As an added treat, 'Na Triobloidi' even has a picture-in-picture commentary with the majority of the cast from the finale. It certainly gives viewers more of a 'fly on the wall' feel as the friendly group adds depth to the series. All of the extra features are also presented in 1080p. 'Sons of Anarchy Roundtable' (40:29) has Kurt Sutter and the gang all together in the Happy Endings bar answering questions by fans. There are some hints given to season three plot points and the information adds to the series by digging into aspects of the show not covered by the commentary tracks. 'The Moral Code of Sons of Anarchy' (10:33) is a glorified recap of season one. Rather than watch a montage of scenes, Kurt Sutter and select cast members help update fans that have forgotten plot points and educate new viewers on the show. There are also over 30 minutes of deleted scenes in and a Gag Reel (3:57)

'Sons of Anarchy: Season Two' takes the kickstand off of the pavement and heads full throttle to Blu-Ray Disc. The video quality is a noticeable step up for many who can only receive the broadcast episodes in 720p or 1080i and the lossless DTS-HD track adds to the experience. With some solid extra features thrown into the mix, the only ones who should hold off on picking up 'Sons of Anarchy: Season Two' on Blu-Ray are those who need to find a copy of season one.