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Screen Gems: TV the week of August 31

Sons of Anarchy (10 p.m. Wednesday, FX) -- Calling this new drama about life inside a motorcycle gang Anarchy The Sopranos on Harleys unfairly and incorrectly implies it's a cheap rip-off, but it does give you some of the show's flavor: The same weird contrast between domesticity and outlawry, the same troubled family dynamics, the same contortions as you clutch your stomach from laughter one moment, your eyes to keep out the unspeakable violence the next. As usual with FX shows, there's a spectacularly talented cast -- including Charlie Hunnam as a gang leader who's developing doubts and Katey Sagal as his old-school mom -- to bring the intricately plotted stories to life.

Raising the Bar (10 p.m. Monday, TNT) -- Maybe the next Hill Street Blues, or maybe the next Cop Rock -- you never know which way Steven Bochco's shows are going to go -- this is a courtroom drama that doesn't have much to do with courtrooms. Starring Mark-Paul Gosselaar (NYPD Blue), Gloria Reuben (ER) and Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm in the Middle), it follows the lives of two sets of lawyers from opposite sides of the fence -- the public defender’s office and the district attorney’s office. But the show's central thesis is that the overcrowded criminal justice system is really a giant bazaar where everything is about plea bargaining, and the last thing anybody on either side wants to do is go to trial.

90210 (8 p.m. Tuesday, The CW) -- Like a reanimated zombie, this Gen Y teen soap has clawed its way from the Nielsen burial ground; the faces are new, but the sex and drugs and epic teen angst are the same. The first question is, just how remote a spot on the Kansas prairie do new-kids-in-town Shenae Grimes (Degrassi: The Next Generation) and Tristan Wilds (The Wire) come from that they'd be shocked to learn that Beverly Hills teenagers are rich and mean and promiscuous and not entirely unacquainted with pharmaceutics? And the second is, how bad does this show have to be for The CW not to provide advance screenings to critics? Like, worse than One Tree Hill? Worse than Life Is Wild? Worse than The Game? OK, I've got to stop -- I'm scaring myself.

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