For anyone who gripes about television containing too many shows pegged to doctors, lawyers and cops, "Sons of Anarchy" is for you. Or not.

The gritty — and occasionally gruesome — new drama series from FX focuses on the beer-chugging, hell-raising members of an outlaw motorcycle gang. When was the last time you saw that in prime time? You haven't.

These guys are the Sopranos on Harleys. They sell illegal arms out of Charming, a sheltered California mountain town that they basically run with cranky Clarence "Clay" Morrow (Ron Perlman) calling the shots.

The young heir to Clay's throne is Jackson "Jax" Teller (Charlie Hunnam), a silent brooding type who has thoughts of changing the club's criminal ways — thoughts that his hard-as-nails mother (Katey Sagal) is determined to suppress.

Trading on bikes, bullets and brawls, "Sons of Anarchy" is soaked in testosterone. But interestingly enough, a couple of women nearly steal tonight's pilot episode. Sagal is thoroughly convincing in the hellcat role, completely obliterating any images you have of her as ditzy Peg Bundy. And Drea de Matteo of "Sopranos" fame makes a gut-wrenching guest appearance as Jackson's wrung-out, drug-addicted ex-wife.

Created by Kurt Sutter ("The Shield"), "Sons of Anarchy" is well-acted and handsomely crafted. But it is also dark, grim, profane and, at times, stunningly violent.


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In other words, if you're the type who just can't hang at a Raiders game, by all means, keep your distance.

Reach Chuck Barney at cbarney@bayareanewsgroup.com. Also, check out his "TV Freak" blog at www.ibabuzz.com/tvfreak.

SERIES PREMIERE
  • WHAT: "Sons of Anarchy"
  • WHEN: 10 tonight
  • WHERE: FX
  • GRADE: B