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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Drama > Horror > Supernatural > Demons > Possession > Murder > Haunted House > Zombie > Sons Of Anarchy - Season Five (Fox Blu-ray) + American Horror Story - Asylum (Fox Blu-ray) + The Walking Dead - The Complete Third Season (Anchor Bay Blu-ray/all 2012)

Sons of Anarchy - Season Five (Fox Blu-ray) + American Horror Story - Asylum (Fox Blu-ray) + The Walking Dead - The Complete Third Season (Anchor Bay Blu-ray/all 2012)

Picture: B+ Sound: A- Extras: C/C-/C Episodes: B-/B+/B+

Whereas most audiences (so I hear) are clamoring for more Sons of Anarchy this reviewer feels that it might be time for this biker gang to ride off into the sunset. For a long while I felt the series was getting better and better (Seasons 1 - 3 that is), but with the coming of Season 4 it was more than apparent that certain story aspects were being recycled. The feuds seemed the same, the characters were becoming all too predictable, and with the exception of a few well-placed cliffhangers the series had become formulaic. I would contest that the same trend continued into Season 5 under review here.

Like our superhero films of on today audiences seem to be gravitating toward darker, grittier stories that seem realer and more intense. Gone are the days of Leave it to Beaver (sorry June) as series like Boardwalk Empire on HBO, Homeland Showtime, Mad Men on AMC, and The Bridge on FX have taken over audiences' creative attention. The latter two proving that dark, gritty, and more adult focused television is no longer reserved for the premium networks and (for a while now) has shifted over to basic cable. Sons of Anarchy is no exception and is/was amongst some of the best series on television today. The problem is, the brighter the flame the quicker the burn. That is to say that these wonderfully intense series have a shelf life and whereas series like Breaking Bad had an exit strategy and knew to leave audiences wanting more; other series hold on for a bit too long.

Whereas Sons of Anarchy may be at the end of its chain, the other two series under review here (American Horror Story: Asylum & The Walking Dead: Season 3) are going strong. Below you will not only find links that give you a chance to look back at previous insights into those series, but a breakdown of what the most recent seasons on Blu-ray have to offer.

Sons of Anarchy:

Season One


Season Two


Season Three


Season 4


Season 5...

Season Five is the newest season of Sons of Anarchy to hit Blu-ray and sadly is the worst yet. As previously mentioned the series has been winding down creatively and perhaps it is time to let it go. It has been implied that Season 7 will be the series final outing (Season 6 is on television now), but even that extends the series beyond its means. Sons of Anarchy has repeatedly added onto its storyline/mythos with new characters, blood feuds, and entangled plot points that have never been resolved. Like plot points on LOST the series seems to imply that those unanswered questions will be answered, but has yet to make good on that promise; instead placing critical topics on the back burner for over five seasons. In essence the creators/writers stretching themselves too thin to give any true resolve. Season 4 was hurdling down one path before taking audiences by complete surprise with a change up right at the end; leaving many unfulfilled with a copout of an ending (no pun intended) that was all too convenient (plot wise).

Season Five opens where Season 4 left off, but instead of truly addressing the world changing issues Season 4 delivered the boys of SAMCRO move forward. Since we are NOT a spoiler site I can't divulge too much about Season 5, but can say that the series continues down the path of piling on plot points without resolving other established issues. The series is surely entertaining and a good watch, but at this point audiences want answers and resolve. This season has big time baddie Damon Pope (Harold Perrineau) going after SAMCRO hard to avenge the death of his daughter. Pope creates a host of messy situations for SAMCRO that not only pits Pope against the gang, but splits the gang themselves. Jax (Charlie Hunnam) now being the head of SAMCRO is pushed to the limit and this season puts his leadership to the test with a variety of will he/won't he moments that make for exciting episodes.

As stated again and again, the series is wonderful; but this reviewer feels it has had its time. Now is the time for Sons of Anarchy to cleverly wrap up all the open ended storylines that have kept on audiences on the edge of their seats. If it takes two additional seasons to do that, so be it; but let this great series go out on its own terms, just like SAMCRO would want.

Many of the extras are altered/extended episodes as well as deleted scenes. I didn't find that they added too much to the series, but for hardcore fans this will be a welcome addition. Extras include:

  • Deleted Scenes from a variety of episodes

  • Sovereign Creator's Cut

  • Stolen Huffy Creator's Cut

  • Commentary on Sovereign

  • Small World Creator's Cut

  • J’ai Obentu Creator's Cut

  • Gag Reel

  • Opie Winston

  • Kurt Sutter: Creating Anarchy

  • Fan Concert at the Club House

  • Commentary on Darthy

American Horror Story:

Season 1


American Horror Story is unlike any other series on television today. Whereas it does contain the aforementioned grittiness and shock factor that audiences have begun to crave, it also has a premise unlike other series.

Apparently though the creators did not know this is how the show's premise would develop, America Horror Story hosts a completely different plot ever season. This is to say that each season acts like its own mini-series; where the events of the first season DO NOT continue into the following season. Season One had audiences aghast at the ongoing events of a haunted mansion in old Hollywood; those who went in never came out, or least never came out the same. In Season Two entitled American Horror Story: The Complete Second Season - Asylum we are taken to a mind, body, and soul altering insane asylum.

Set in the 1960s, the Second Season ramps up the insanity from Season One. This season is off the padded wall chaos and crazy. Whereas at times during the First Season I felt like I myself was trapped in the murder house, as some episodes dragged along; this season I was nearly scratching off my skin to see what would happen next. The basic premise centers on an insane asylum run by the Catholic Church in the 1960's. Sister Jude ( Jessica Lange) is the head of Briarcliff Manor (the asylum) where the question quickly becomes who is crazier the patients or staff? A man by the name Kit Walker (Evan Peters) is admitted under the suspicion that he is the serial killer Bloody Face. Oddly enough, Kit is a cool, calm, collected, mild manner gentleman who couldn't possibly be a deranged killer. Could he? Then there is ‘super sleuth’ reporter Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson) who is dead set (no pun intended) on revealing the atrocities that the staff of Briar Cliff Manor are committing. Sadly for Ms. Winters she is committed to the institution herself before any such revelations can be made.

From here the entire season travels down the rabbit hole as we are treated to carnage, mayhem, and debauchery. The line between reality and the paranormal/mind altering is skewed to the point where it is hard to describe what is actually occurring. The writers continually throw curveballs that will have the most savvy viewers’ heads swimming. The series oddly and nearly flawlessly manages to incorporate Nazis, demons, aliens, serial killers, and so much more that it boggles the mind.

Viewers of the First Season will recognize many familiar faces, but in totally different roles. This is part of the charm of American Horror Story as it will attempt to reinvent itself each season; using the same cast, but a completely new premise as it continues to scare the bejesus out of us.

All extras are pretty standard, but worth a look. Extras Include:

  • Deleted Scenes

  • The Orderly

  • The Creatures

  • Welcome to Briar Cliff Manor

  • What is American Horror Story: Asylum?

The Walking Dead:

Season 1


Season 2


Season 3...

The Third Season of The Walking Dead picks up directly where Season 2 left off and is horrifically good as ever. The epic series based on the comic/graphic novel series of the same name has hit world at full force, managing the pull in audiences from all walks of life (no pun intended). That is to say that it seems everyone is watching this ghoulishly violent, gory series without discrimination. At a time where we still have protests raging about violent on TV and in movies, you would be hard pressed to find a week go by without a Facebook, Twitter, or Text Message stating something to the extent of “OMG can't wait for The Walking Dead!” And that ranges from housewives to militia; The Walking Dead hitting a cord with audiences across the board. Could it be that zombies are just “in” right now? Sure. Or perhaps the series is just…that…good.

As previously mentioned Season 3 picks up where Season 2 left off; with the survivors abandoning their now zombie overrun, idealistically ‘utopian’ farm. Once a safe haven the farm being overrun meant the crew had to come up with a new plan; the end of the season teasing audiences with a prison in the distance.

As alluded to in the Season 2 review, much of that season was spent bickering on the farm instead of zombie stomping like audiences wanted. Rick (Andrew Lincoln) was attempting to be a decisive leader, but often times floundered as he fought against farm owner and old timer Hershel (Scott Wilson). The survivors were trying to set up a “safe life” on the farm, but the odds were against them and before the end of the season trouble was afoot. We lose some key characters, others separate and we as an audience are dragged into Season 3 to find out what will happen next. Season 3 (aptly deemed “the prison season”) has our former farm crew held up in a prison, while we are concurrently introduced to a small town called Woodbury. Woodbury seems like the perfect small American town straight out of the 1950s. In Woodbury we find Andrea (Laurie Holden) and new comer Michonne (Danai Gurira) taken in by the town’s ‘leader’ The Governor (David Morrissey). Though pleasant at first it becomes more than apparent that The Governor rules with an iron fist; meaning it is his way or the highway, the highway not really meaning the option to leave. The episodes go back and forth between the events at the prisoner and Woodbury, up until the point where the two worlds intertwine. There is much foreshadowing (and at times direct indication) that the meeting will not go well; but audiences will have to experience for themselves the catastrophic events that occur once The Governor and Rick square off.

Some fans have closely compared Seasons 2 & 3 suggesting that they are equally draining and drawn out as not much happens; pointing out that one season traipses around a farm while the other mindlessly wanders the corridors of a prison. I would completely disagree with this as Season 3 definitely ups the ante with the added threat of Woodbury coupled with the already constant fear of zombie annihilation.

Again in Season 3 we see some long standing characters make their exit; which is no surprise. The show runners have never been afraid of letting go of the main cast and so closely following the comics make this all the easier. Some characters will be missed and others you will go FINALLY and then there are those that we had just come to know.

This season is wonderful and now being on Blu-ray gives audiences everywhere the chance not to miss a moment; along with the ability to quickly pause and rewind when you say “did that just really happen?!”

Most extras are short tidbits, but the deleted scenes and audio commentaries are key. Extras Include:

  • Audio Commentaries on 5 key episodes

    • They actually give key insight into the creative process and help flesh out the series

  • Deleted Scenes

  • Rising Son

  • Evil Eye

  • Gone, but not Forgotten

  • Heart of a Warrior

  • Micchone vs. The Governor

  • Safety Behind Bars

  • Making the Dead

  • Guts and Glory

Technical Features:

Surprisingly though these three new to Blu-ray television series are from two different studios (FOX and Anchor Bay) the technical features are all superbly on par with one another. The picture on all three Blu-rays is presented as a 1080p AVC encoded MPEG-4, 1.78 X 1 Widescreen that all hold solid color, contrast, and fine detail. Varying in style each of the series uses a different palette of grit, grime, and color distortion to bring its own brand of harsh reality to life. Concurrently all three series seem to suffer at the darker/shadowy moments as delineation begins to breakdown, but by no means atrocious.

Whereas the both Sons of Anarchy and American Horror Story are presented in a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio which sounds great; The Walking Dead is a Dolby 7.1 True HD that is SURPRISINGLY just on par with the other two. The audio on all three series is engaging as the action packed atmosphere of Sons of Anarchy and creepy yet catastrophic aura of Walking Dead and American Horror Story project with ease. The full speaker range is utilized from all surrounds and the series truly come to life. Prioritizing is solid and even the softest moments are discernible; certainly emphasizing the creepier moments of Dead and Horror Story.

- Michael P. Dougherty II


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