I often preface my takes on TV shows by saying, “I am not a TV critic.” But as I am now a proud, card-carrying member of the Television Critics Association, I will say this, hands-down: The best hour of television you will see during the fall premiere onslaught is the third-season opener of FX’s Sons of Anarchy. If the first two seasons had never aired, this would be the best pilot of the fall. And it’s mainly because of the last act. If the Emmys had an award for best scene, the end of the episode would lock up the statue before the season even began.
The funny part is, I ran into this show by accident. And how’s this for full disclosure: Until a few months ago, I had never seen an episode. Which is strange because when you think target demo for a hard-core biker gang show, you immediately think: Jews from Minnesota.
But I was asked to host a panel at an event with show creator Kurt Sutter and FX marketing chief Stephanie Gibbons, so I had the network send over some DVDs, figuring I’d watch a couple of episodes and BS my way through the panel. Fast-forward about 20 hours, and I had blown through the entire first two seasons.
Sons of Anarchy is tremendous for many reasons, beginning with Sutter’s writing. If you haven’t seen the show, you may have heard of Sutter because of his bombastic blogging. It’s funny, but here’s hoping he backs off on the vitriol there at some point, because it would be a shame if he became a cliché away from the show, letting it overshadow his immense talent.
Also of note is the nepotism on the series—which is one of its greatest strengths. Sutter’s wife, Katey Segal, absolutely got robbed of an Emmy nomination. And FX chief John Landgraf’s missus plays an FBI agent who . . . I need to choose my words wisely here, considering I think Landgraf and I are having lunch soon. Okay: His wife’s character is scary hot. As in scary and hot. Sorry John, guess lunch is on me.
However, I am not alone in seeing the appeal of Ally Walker and the entire cast, as the third-season premiere drew about 1,000 people to a Hollywood opening the night after the Emmys. That’s impressive, as a bunch of revving motorcycles and gunshots is strangely not on the recommended list of remedies for Emmy partyinduced hangovers.
Sons of Anarchy already does huge numbers on FX, but it could break out even more this year. And I would have fanned the flames if I were News Corp.
I would have stunted the season-three premiere on Fox. I know the network is busy promoting Lone Star and its other rookies, but I would launch one week of Sons promotion out of an NFL Sunday and re-air the premiere the following Saturday night at 11 p.m. That time slot is wide open, and there’s no way the show can air in primetime on broadcast thanks to standards and practices.
Again, feel free to question my taste. I will tell you the two shows I refused to miss this summer were Hard Knocks (for its unmatched quality) and Jersey Shore (for its unmatched stupidity).
But this fall, Rex Ryan and Snooki (how crass would their offspring be, by the way?) will be replaced by a biker gang. And this Jew from Minnesota plans to go along for the ride.
E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: @BCBenGrossman
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