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TV Review: ‘Sons of Anarchy’ S2, Episodes 6-8
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Dr. Royce Clemens   |  
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Sons of Anarchy S2, Eps 6-8
Created by Kurt Sutter
Starring Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Kim Coates, Mark Boone Junior, Maggie Siff and Ron Perlman
Now airing on FX

SPOILERS: This is not to be read until after you’ve seen the 10/28 episode. But if you haven’t watched this show, I have to ask what the hell you’re doing here?

The story so far”¦

The Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club-Redwood Original (or SAMCRO) rules over the town of Charming, California with a hard but benevolent fist, keeping huge corporate development out of the town, gaining even the respect of the town sheriff. They finance their activities by running guns. Naturally, this runs afoul of the ATF.

The ATF troubles loom behind them (particularly Agent Stahl, played by Ally Walker), but now they’re caught up with the threat that white separatist Ethan Zobelle (Adam Arkin) and his crew pose. They start off the pissing match between them and the Sons by having his XO (Henry Rollins) rape the club matriarch Gemma (Katey Sagal), but Gemma, being made of equal parts piss and ice water, refuses to tell her husband and club president Clay (Ron Perlman), for to do so would destroy the club in a fire of rage.

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TV Review: ‘Sons of Anarchy’ Season 1 DVD & Season 2 Preview (Ep. 1-5)
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Dr. Royce Clemens   |  
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Sons of Anarchy Season One DVDSons of Anarchy
Created by Kurt Sutter
Starring Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Ron Perlman, Maggie Siff, Kim Coates, Mark Boone Junior
Twentieth Century Fox
Season 1 DVD release date: August 18, 2009
Season 2 premiere date: Tuesday, September 8, 10 EST/9 CST on FX

The handiest and dandiest nutshell in which to describe the FX show Sons of Anarchy is “Hamlet with Bikers.” It’s not the least accurate metaphor in the world: You have a Claudius, you have a Gertrude, and even the hero of the show, Jackson “Jax” Teller (Charlie Hunnam), has blond hair and blue eyes, looking as Danish as Danish can be. Hamlet with Bikers isn’t the worst kind of thing for a show. There are a whole ton of shows that don’t have Shakespearean allusions or dirty, smelly bikers, so can’t we have one that does?

But the more cynical way to describe Sons of Anarchy is “The Sopranos with Bikers,” but it’s too early to call on that one. The show needs six more seasons to overextend itself and a ton of out-of-place dream sequences to live up to that. That show got so bored with itself that it ended in mid-sentence to go and do something else.

Sons of Anarchy is the latest, and arguably best, drama to come out of the basic cable network FX, beating out other shows like Rescue Me, Damages, and the recently concluded The Shield (which is that show poor people had to make do with when they couldn’t get The Wire on HBO). In fact, I would go so far as to call Sons of Anarchy last season’s best new show in all of television. It took a little while to get its groove on, but it veered quite close to great in its second half. That’s something even the best shows on TV rarely do.

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DVD Review: ‘Mad Men’ Season Two
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Dr. Royce Clemens   |  
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Mad Men season two DVDMad Men: Season Two
Special Collector’s Edition
Created by Matthew Weiner
Starring Jon Hamm, Elizabeth Moss, January Jones, Christina Hendricks, John Slattery and Vincent Kartheiser
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Release Date: July 14, 2009

It was F. Scott Fitzgerald who once posited that the things that people are ashamed of are the things that make the best stories. Fitzgerald, had he come later and not, y’know, drank himself to death, would have been proud to have come up with Mad Men. It was last year’s Emmy winner for Best TV Drama, and if my estimation of last season’s complete and utter swill that called itself television is correct (a year that spawned a disappointing third season of Dexter, a godawful season of Weeds, and the advent of the neon storm of ass that calls itself “True Blood“), it will win again this year. They should just rename the Emmys “Let’s Throw Gold Shit at Matthew Weiner and Tina Fey for Three Hours.” “˜Cause if I’m a fan of anything, it’s honesty.

For those of you who have yet to fall head-first into Mad Men like the unbearable hipster jackass at the record store told you you should have by now, allow me to set the scene:

In the early 1960’s, Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is an advertising executive at the New York agency Sterling-Cooper. He has a lovely wife named Betty (January Jones) and two darling children and a big expensive house. Naturally, someone who has all these things should have deep problems and Don most certainly does. He’s a serial philanderer, has barely any love for his wife at all and bears a huge secret that haunts him at every turn. From season to season, Draper attempts to build up his success while his baser natures do everything they can to tear it all down.

Mad Men has gained a reputation, somewhat, as “That Show Where Everybody Smokes.” And it’s true that, in order to reflect the tenor of the middle of the twentieth century, everyone has a cigarette in his or her hand. As a smoker, no show has ever sent me into crazier nicotine fits. I go through smokes watching this show like fat children go through Tootsie Rolls.

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DVD Review: ‘Weeds’ Season Four
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Dr. Royce Clemens   |  
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Weeds
Season 4
Created by Jenji Kohan
Starring Mary Louise Parker, Justin Kirk, Kevin Nealon, Elizabeth Perkins, Hunter Parrish, Alexander Gould
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Release Date: June 2, 2009

Last year at about this time, when I reviewed Season Three of Showtime’s Weeds for this very website, I complained about how the DVD case trotted out that it was made from 100% recycled materials. I wondered who they could possibly market that fact to. People who hadn’t seen the show who felt they HAD to buy it because, well, those seasons of Six Feet Under wouldn’t allow them to be better people by having ITS packaging made from recycled shit? People who like the show and were gonna buy it anyway, even if the packaging were made from poodle ass and baby seal hymen? The point eluded me then and it eludes me now. I’m not saying you can’t make your stuff out of other folks’ leftovers, but quit being a dick about it.

Sure enough, another year, another packaging issue. Not with the packaging itself, I don’t give a fuck about that anymore, and yet I am mystified by the pull-quote from The Miami Herald that they put on the back of the box:

“Smart… Smug… And habit-forming.”

“Smug?” That’s what you’re saying to pull folks in? They… They know what that word means, right? I’m not necessarily saying the show isn’t smug (as mentioned, the show actively markets that its DVD sets are recycled), but there’s some shit you just don’t share with the rest of the class.

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The Doom Dispatch: The Ten Best Directorial Debuts of the Decade
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Dr. Royce Clemens   |  
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Top Ten Best Directorial Debuts of the DecadeBefore we start, a couple of rules that I followed while making this list:

-Documentaries don’t count: Watching the scene and setting the scene are two different things. If you made a documentary before you made your dramatic debut, the dramatic debut is the one I’m counting.

-Your movie had to be distributed: Every once in a while, a feature makes the film festival rounds without actually getting picked up and distributed. If your second film was released in theaters in America, that’s the one I’m counting.

-No Donnie Darko: That movie is actually an episode of Quantum Leap with shitty emo “Kill Yourself” music packed in. Sorry, kids.

So now then… The Ten Best Directorial Debuts of the Decade

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