Sons of Anarchy

Season 3

 

Sons of Anarchy: Season 3

Created, Produced & Written by Kurt Sutter

Directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton, Guy Ferland, Stephen Kay, Bill Gierhart & Kurt Sutter

Sept 7 - Nov 30, 2010


Cast:

Charlie Hunnam

Katey Sagal

Ron Perlman

Maggie Siff

Kim Coates

Tommy Flanagan

Ryan Hurst

Mark Boone Junior

Dayton Callie

Paula Malcomson

James Cosmo

Titus Welliver


SRP: $69.99


Studio:

Theatrical: FX Network & Fox 21

Video: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment


Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Codec: AVC

Disc Size: BD50 x 3

Episode size: 8-10 GB

Bit Rate: Low-moderate (15-25 Mbps)

Runtime: 583 minutes

Episodes: 13 episodes

Chapters: 12 per episode


Audio:

English DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1

English Dolby Digital 2.0 (commentaries)


Subtitles:

English, Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish & French


Extras:

• 3 Episode Audio Commentaries

• 3 Extended Episodes

• The Future Begins Now (9:40)

• Writer's Roundtable (18:10)

• Bike Customizer (15:45)

• Directing the Finale with Kurt Sutter (15:30)

• "NS" Episode Table Read with Cast (44:00)

• BD-Live Exclusive - Sons at Comic-Con 2011 (4:55)

• Fox Movie Channel Presents - in SD (5:10)

• 3 Deleted Scenes - in SD (ca. 38 min)

• Gag Reel (3:02)

• Season Mode


Amaray Blu-ray Case w/ flip-pages

Street Date: August 30, 2011



The Season : 8

If Season One were titled “Jax” and Season Two “Gemma” then Season Three would no doubt be “Abel.”  Sons of Anarchy is about succession.  Clay may be the leader of the club, but Jax is the original leader’s son - his father long deceased, and his mother, Gemma (Katey Sagal), married to Clay .  In the first season Jax (Charlie Hunnam) found himself at a crossroads as regards his attitude about the direction the club should take and his commitment to being a first-time father.  Reading his father’s journal made it clear that Clay’s direction for the club was not his father’s, but was it his?


     


Taking on fatherhood also means Jax needed to sort out who should take on the role of his son’s mother.   The biological mother was too far gone on drugs to maintain those responsibilities so it fell on his once-girlfriend, Tara (Maggie Siff), recently retuned to Charming to practice her pediatric surgical skills at the local hospital.  Both of these threads are taken up with a vengeance in Season Three, which picks up immediately after the previous season left infant son Abel kidnapped by a member of the IRA, his son having been killed by Jax’s mother  - or so he was led to believe by FBI Agent Stahl (Ally Walker).  Gemma, around whose rape early on in season two became the emotional undercurrent throughout that season, is on the run at the start of season three though she does not yet know that her grandson is missing.  Jax and Clay send out vain feelers throughout their club network, and the FBI are without a clue since SAMCRO is unwilling to tell them why the club would be in bed with the IRA.


     


We soon learn that IRA fugitive Cameron (Jamie McShane) made it all the way to Belfast with Abel in tow, though he already regrets his action - all the more so when he learns that he and Gemma were set up by Agent Stahl.  The IRA has its own set of troubles, and Cameron’s folly hasn’t made things any easier for them.   Two people that figure prominently on the Ireland front are: Maureen Ashby (Paula Malcomson, who herself hails from Belfast, and whom you would recognize from Deadwood, and who pretty much steals every scene she’s in by her unselfconscious investment in her character) is well known to SAMCRO’s old timers and her brother, Father Kellen (James Cosmo).  These two don’t exactly see eye to eye on how to deal with the baby.  One thing is clear, Jimmy O’Phelan (Titus Welliver), SAMCRO’s IRA contact stateside, now in Belfast, is a major fly in the ointment - the question is: whose ointment, and to what purpose?  Much the same could be said for Father Kellen.


     


[Speaking of Deadwood, Sons of Anarchy also features Dayton Callie as Sheriff Unser, formerly Wild Bill’s close friend Charlie Utter.  And keep an eye out for Robin Weigert, whose Calamity Jane touched our hearts despite the profuseness of her inebriated profanity; she’s all but unrecognizable here - or there, if you knew her prior to Deadwood.  I leave the surprise of finding her to you. And while you’re about it, there a great Sarah Palin joke that whizzes by so fast you could easily miss it.]


As for the club, they have their hands full with a Mayan incursion into Charming - the Mexicans intend to set up heroin manufacturing and distribution operations - leading to  the inevitable violence that would and does destabilize the delicate balance between police and SAMCRO.  Each season fleshes out one or two members of the club - this year “Chibs” (Tommy Flanagan) gets to share some of the spotlight with Jax, Clay, Opie and Tig, which only makes sense given his character has strong Irish roots and that a considerable piece of the season finds several club members in Belfast.


     


A subplot early on introduces us to Gemma’s father, Nate (Hal Holbrook, now 85) who either is or is not coming to terms with the death of Gemma’s mother some whiles back, depending on the status of his dementia.  Meanwhile Ally Walker’s Agent Stahl continues to play God.  Very creepy.  The character we most love to hate.


Jax is so bent out of shape about Abel and his inability to get a reliable bead on his whereabouts that he repeatedly and noxiously pisses all over what’s left of his relationship with Tara - one moment willing to accept her decision to be a supportive part of his life and at the next abruptly slamming that door shut - most often the latter.  It’s really astonishing to find in a single character such a level of pig-headed self-righteousness and rampant impulsivity.  No.  Now that I think of it - it isn’t.  You gotta love Jax.


     


Image: 9/9
Perhaps its my equipment, but the Image quality seems to be even better than  previously.  There is a natural denseness to the image that is positively palpable.  denser, than we saw for season one.  There might be a little less grain and noise (except in dark scenes where noise is till evident, if not distracting) than previously without falling victim to heavy or inappropriate DNR, though there is still a tendency, easily overlooked, for blue fringing to occur with dark objects against light sky.  As before, fabric textures, especially those ubiquitous leather jackets, are especially well rendered; facial texture, too, is faithful to the flesh. I should qualify all this with one negative vote for what seems to be to be a capricious decision on the part of the filmmakers to use a strong blue filter for the Belfast segments.  The resulting loss of contrast does not serve the drama well, in my opinion.


     


Audio & Music: 8/8
The vocal peculiarity I observed in some parts of Season Two have righted itself.  There is the occasional increase in presence at ties with Clay and Jax for certain emphasis, but this now seems deliberate now rather than arbitrary. Dialogue has sufficient clarity and focus that I did not feel the need to activate subtitles - except, of course, when anyone is speaking the Irish, even in English (this goes for Chibs as well as natives).  My comments about the effects and music from Season Two still hold: The soundfield field opens up nicely for the occasional music and when gunfire is exchanged.  I thought the small arms fire to be particularly effective, with remarkable variety depending on the gun and the location from where it is fired.   Motorcycle engines are well-panned, back to front and side to side; they chug along deeply and have a bit more weight and vibrating punch than I observed last year.


     


Operations: 6

In contrast to many other series where the story continues from one season to the next, there is no reprise of the previous season in any form.  As with Season Two, the first episode of the new season starts where the last one left off with enough “clues” as to make connections easy and without dumbing down the writing to bring you up to date.  Perhaps it’s just my OPPO but I was not able to obtain a memory function in “Season Play” to help find where I left off once the disc leaves the tray.  That function does allow for each ensuing episode on any given disc to start immediately after the credits of the previous episode. 


My one gripe is that a scene still goes to black for a couple seconds, as it would have for an FX commercial, even if the next shot picks up exactly where the previous one left off.  There should be no blackout.  It’s an unnecessary and lazy adherence to the way it was shown on TV, minus the commercials.  I would go so far as to say that most blackouts on video could be eliminated to good effect.


     


Extras: 8

The worthy highlights:

There are three audio commentaries, the season opener features Kurt Sutter and the writers; the other two: Sutter and cast members.  All very listenable and absorbing.  Three slightly extended cuts for the season premier and final episodes all get some extra time.  “The Future Begins Now” consists of four vignettes (averaging two minutes or so)  that take us via one imagined possibility from the end of season three and the beginning of season four.  In the Writer's Roundtable, series creator Kurt Sutter and his writers field questions from fans.


You say you want to see how a motorcycle is built from the ground up, then you’ll want to watch “Bike Customizer” - it’s in HD so you can really get a close look at all the detailed work.  Finally, you might want to check out want’s on BD-Live: Kurt Sutter, Charlie Hunnam, Ron Perlman and Katey Sagal meet the fans at this years Comic-Con.


     


Recommendation: 8

The Sons of Anarchy is relaxed and confident going into its third season that isn’t as tight a story or quite as focused in performance as the season just before.  The Third Season has considerably more money at its disposal and it shows in its delirious delight plundering a new location.  Despite a few missteps, like Sutter’s unsubtle direction of the season finale and the few moments where the screenplay gets a little careless - as when Clay discusses his plans in the presence of a Mayan patch leader he just humiliated - an uncharacteristically lazy solution to moving the plot from point A to point B, and making Clay out to be stupid, which he ain’t, Season Three is a riveting, if fairly humorless roller-coaster ride.  The move to Belfast will perhaps upset some fans who demand something like purity, but let it not be forgotten that a considerable amount of SAMCRO’s business relies on gun-running for the IRA.  The politics of such things are not smoothed over or simplified, either for easy understanding or ethical consumption.


As with the previous season, Fox’s high definition image and audio treatment is deserved but never feels like high resolution for the sake of showing itself off.  A solid recommendation.


     


 

Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

September 2, 2011



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