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While we're down to our last 13 episodes of The Shield, FX's newest series, Sons of Anarchy, is just getting started. It's early, but so far I have my doubts.

Sons of Anarchy comes from Kurt Sutter, a writer and executive producer on The Shield. Sutter knows grit. What he doesn't seem to offer viewers here, though — at least not yet — is a compelling reason to watch this outlaw motorcycle gang in action.

The central character is Jackson "Jax" Teller (Charlie Hunnam), whose late father founded the Sons of Anarchy. Now Jax is second in command to his stepfather, Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman). Katey Sagal is Jax's tough, protective mother; Drea de Matteo is his junkie ex-wife, who's recently given birth to a baby with a host of medical problems; and Maggie Siff, another ex, is the doctor who saves the baby.

If the romantic entanglements and the baby's health are supposed to be the hooks to make us want to keep up with this group of racist, gun-running, murderous sociopaths, well, that's not nearly enough. The central characters in The Shield share similar characteristics with Anarchy's bikers, but at least Vic Mackey and pals do something to benefit humanity. The Sons of Anarchy are, as one of the police deputies on the show says, "white-trash thugs holding on to a dying dream."


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