A dud TV series about a biker gang in Northern California, some distance behind the genre-busting moves of The Sopranos, Breaking Bad etc. You know the kind of thing, on the one hand brutal criminals, on the other, fighting for custody of their children, a quiet life with the wife off the meth - thoughtful, decent chaps really just caught in unfortunate circumstances, rather dashing actually and with street smarts! Afterall they are just at the mercy of larger maverick forces – corruption in high places, are they not? All that drug-running and extortion to be balanced against blood feuds and dubious codes of loyalty. So: high loading on moral ambiguity or a matter of how bad is bad anyway? Yeeeennnnnah. The main difference is the formula is a little shopworn by now and TSOA lacks the style of more notable precedents. The art direction is good, lotsa gnarly dudes in colours with impressive beards and wonderfully groomed long hair riding massive choppers, and the lighting and camerawork is OK but it lacks that extra snap to composition Breaking Bad excelled in, it lacks the pacing and wit of The Sopranos. In short, it lacks a director.
At first I thought this must come pretty low down on HBO’s production list, but in fact it’s a FX (or FOX) production. And as you know, Fox fuxs. There are some familiar faces in the cast – Ron Perlman, Jimmy Smits (Remember LA Law from the 80s? – Oh well) and Drea de Matteo – who played the tragic slag Adriana in The Sopranos. Ahhh… always had a soft spot for Adriana... That said the thing has been around since 2008 and off and on I must have seen a total of about… 45 minutes. It’s that gripping. But what can you say? Creator Kurt Sutter is no David Chase, the thing doesn’t really have the legs or political ambitions of Breaking Bad and so it always remains on a petty, vicious level – dumb bikers wasting each other.