SAMCRO Rides Again

Tonight marks the return of one of TV's best shows, with a new season of "Sons of Anarchy" (FX, 10 p.m.) premiering with a 90-minute episode.

Since the series, about a bunch of bikers who do illegal things but also protect their town of Charming, Calif., it's been a little bit of everything -- a modern-day Western, a crime drama, a family saga. The show's four leads -- Ron Perlman, Katey Sagal, Charlie Hunnam and Maggie Siff -- all have turned in Emmy-worthy performances, though none have been recognized by the Academy.

Last season ended on a rare stumble by creator Kurt Sutter. After building up to a conclusion in which it looked as if the gang would be wiped out in a complicated power struggle involving Mexican bikers, IRA gunrunners and the Feds, the Sons were given a last-minute reprieve by federal agents working undercover that basically allowed the series to continue.

For me, it felt too deus ex machina -- the hand of God suddenly entering the drama and influencing the ending, which is weak writing to me.

However, the show did set up a new dynamic for this season. Jax Teller (Hunnam), who was on his way out of the biker life forever, has now assumed the reins of the Sons from his stepfather, Clay (Perlman), who tried to have Jax's wife Tara (Siff) killed. Meanwhile, Jax and Clay are both on the outs with matriarch Gemma (Sagal). Tara must adjust to life unable to practice surgery because of a hand injury she suffered during the hit attempt, and Tig (Kim Coates) has brought trouble to the club after mistakenly killing the daughter of a rival gang leader. Thanks to Clay's machinations, there's a lot of mistrust among the Sons.

Despite last season's finale, "Sons" remains one of TV's most underrated shows, and I'm eager to climb back in the saddle with the gang.

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: Neal and Peter go undercover in a Wall Street "fight club" to bring down a crooked inside trader on "White Collar" (USA, 9 p.m.), followed by a new "Covert Affairs" at 10 p.m.

NBC is out of the gates first in starting its new fall season. After Night 2 of "The Voice" at 8 p.m., there are new episodes of the sitcoms "The New Normal" and "Go On," followed by the season premiere of "Parenthood" at 10 p.m.