Friday, February 12, 2016

Vinyl Recap. Season One. Episode One (Pilot)

HBO's go-to star:  Bobby Cannavale as Richie Finnestra
What Worked, Vinyl, Episode 1: 

  • 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.  

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