|HBO's go-to star: Bobby Cannavale as Richie Finnestra|
- The way the show was bookended by the great rendition of the song "Personality." Really set the tone.
- Ray Romano as Walter Yetnikoff...uh....Zak Yankovich. He brought some nice comic relief to a two-hour show that was very dark (although he overdid it a few times). Best line: "I'm a Jew. When Germans say they're going to be diligent, we go to the attic and write a diary."
- Great period details from the graffiti-splattered subways to a middle-age woman reading "Fear of Flying."
- Andrew Dice Clay's "Do I look like an asshole?" rap. Echoed Joe Pesci's "Do I look like a funny guy" rap from "Goodfellas."
- The scene where Richie Finnestra sells his stake in the company for $150,000....but he can't get Jimmy Little out of his contract.
- The beating of Jimmy Little. The kick in the neck was brutal -- he'll never sing again.
- Jamie Vine "discovering" punk rocker Kip Stevens. That felt real.
What Didn't Work, Vinyl Episode 1:
- Overproduction. It's like director Martin Scorsese had too much money (and time) for this two-hour pilot. Did the introductory scene with radio station owner Buck Rogers (played by Andrew Dice Clay playing Andrew Dice Clay) really have to take place in a sex club with those carefully contrived shots? Same with Finnestra's long, drawn-out birthday party at his house.
- The yelling. Too many over-the-top scenes of people yelling especially when Richie Finnestra dresses down his A&R staff and Zepplin's manager also yells at Richie's staff (they are pin cushions).
- (SPOILER ALERT HERE) The murder of Buck Rogers by Richie's fixer. The prelude to the head-smashing was loud and drawn out. And the reason for the second round of head-smashing was perplexing. And why would Richie agree to cover up murder? This was the worst written scene in the pilot.
- The collapse of the rock club at the conclusion of the pilot. Huh? Why did that happen. (Also: see overproduction)
Overall Grade for Vinyl Episode 1: (B-) Loud, long and messy. But there's no denying there's a great story in "Vinyl" that just might be told in the coming weeks. I'm not totally sold on Bobby Cannavale -- he looks a lot beefier than he did as the sleek, cool-as-ice gangster in HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" and that's not a good thing. Perhaps when the episodes are an hour long, "Vinyl" will be tighter and more compelling. As one might expect, the music rocks.