The Devils Ride cablecast its fourteenth episode and ended its second “season” last Monday. If that’s it, it will have been the show’s schizophrenia that killed it.
The show began as a supposed real look inside a real motorcycle club – “a place,” as one of Hunter Thompson’s early admirers put it, “few of us would dare to go.” It was intended to be a cheap show that would commodify an interesting and undervalued counterculture. But most of the real action was either washed and spun dried or ignored: A club prospect and members of the production crew mugged a passing photographer, the show’s star turned out to be married to a cop, other clubs in San Diego told the Laffing Devils, the family club at the center of the show, to disappear.
Let’s Do A Show
The plots were ludicrous and they could only be advanced with voice over narration and “confessional” style interviews with key cast members in the manner of Survivor and Big Brother. The one on ones, usually in black and white and probably filmed well after the fact, sort of explained to viewers what a better drama would have, you know, dramatized. The show might have been better if the producers, a company named Bischoff-Hervey and a guy Steve Stockman had simply turned The Devils Ride into a drama based on true events like Australia’s Brothers In Arms or Sons of Anarchy. Kurt Sutter was right, by the way. One of the shots in the opening montage of every episode of The Devils Ride is a blatant rip off of an image in the FX show’s opening. But Bischoff, Hervey and Stockman were too gutless and lame to admit their biker fantasies were made up. Or, giving them all the benefit of the doubt, maybe the production company was contractually obligated to Discovery to cough up fourteen episodes of a reality show about what started as a real motorcycle club.
The club itself ceased to be real last summer when the San Diego Confederation of Clubs kicked the Laffing Devils to the curb and pronounced a lifetime ban on all the club’s officers. The producers ignored the actual and interesting story in that, which was what happens when a bunch of rude Hollywood bozos stick their noses into the MC world. Instead Bischoff-Hervey and temporary series star Thomas Gipsy Quinn invented an entirely imaginary motorcycle club called the Sinister Mob Syndicate. The Laffing Devils became an entirely imaginary club as well last June. The names and insignia of both clubs are now commercially trademarked as for-profit brands.
Five Hours Lost Forever
I watched five of the fourteen episodes: The first episode last May titled “The Brotherhood;” the final episode of the first season last June titled “Fallen Devil,” a Fluffernutter sandwich about Quinn and his Sinister Mobsters; “First Blood” the first episode when the show returned this February without Quinn – who had been arrested on suspicion of pedophilia during the hiatus; and the thirteenth and fourteenth episodes called “Enemy Within” and “War Is Now” which ran back to back on April 8th.
I tried to approach each episode with an open mind. Now, after almost a year, the nicest thing I can think to say about this monstrosity was, I always liked the theme song.Oh, whoa, whoa, oh, Never ride alone again. Oh, whoa, whoa, oh, You’ll never ride alone again. I know you’re a hard man Made of mortal brick and bone, Ridin’ hard all your life, Searchin’ for something you can call your own.
Most of the last two episodes were prefabricated, fatuous, amateurish and inane melodrama that made me feel embarrassed for all the people who got paid behind this homemade comic book. I might not have much money but at least I won’t be appearing in this thing for the next hundred years. Piled on top of the grade school drama were incidents from the consensual reality in which most of us believe we exist: The photographer mugging, the furious Mongol who appeared for a few fleeting seconds last year and, this season, real glimpses of two real people named Rob and Melissa Johnston in the angry, ugly, sad and very private moments of their disillusionment with one other. I didn’t want to see the private hell of Knucklehead and the pretty girl with the sleeve of tattoos but that was all the producers could think to show me.
Let’s Blow Up A Trailer
The show was crazy like that to the very end when the action-film style explosion of a dilapidated and empty trailer filmed from multiple camera angles was quickly followed by a black and white long shot of Sandman dressed in a suit, looking small beside his very tall lawyer, the two of them looking small together in front of a mountain of grey blocks in downtown San Diego called the Hall of Justice. I wanted to look away from all that too.
If there is anyone who might for some reason be interested, and who does not yet know, because the show did not have the huevos to tell its viewers what was going on, Sandman was arrested for multiple counts including attempted murder after he broke into Melissa’s home last Christmastime and stabbed her guest in the back. Probably they will not be getting back together. At least I didn’t have to want to look away as their children were trotted out to appear in this horrifying flop. Probably Sandman is looking at a little stretch. Probably, even if for some reason The Devils Ride returns, both the husband and the wife are out of the show that went out of its way to portray him as dangerously and impulsively violent.
I would have liked to have watched more episodes than I did, because if the show was only a little better, it would have been a delight to mock, but I could not. Within five minutes something would always make me feel too embarrassed to watch.
There were some nice moments in the show this late winter and early spring. Some of the Sinister Mobsters talked the talk pretty good. Several of them seemed like guys in a motorcycle club. I would have liked to have seen more of that. I would have liked to have seen Ralph “Rockem” Randolph call a prospect at three in the morning and demand a pizza, from his favorite pizzeria in Phoenix. The show could have used moments like that. But there were none because the production kept getting in its own way; because it kept trying to brazen its way out of its own trash can full of secrets and lies.
So, it is what it was.