TV Review: HBO’s Vinyl
The two-hour pilot of HBO’s newest series “Vinyl” premiered last weekend and is the latest from Martin Scorsese, who collaborated with Mick Jagger for the concept. Boardwalk Empire’s brainchild Terence Winter is also the executive producer. Bobby Cannavale stars as the lead character Richie Finestra, founder of American Century Records.
Set in 1973, Finestra and his partners are in the process of trying to dump the record company to a German label because it is struggling financially, of course the Germans don’t know this. The pilot sheds light on some of the unethical on goings of the music business, which given the status of where it is today should not surprise anyone. You get the sense that Finestra doesn’t really want to go through with it but doesn’t feel there is any other option. The show flashes back periodically to when he got his start in the music business as a manager with his first artist Lester Grimes. This does a good job of showing the enthusiasm and spirit Finestra once had for the music business and that he has since lost it, or at least replaced it with drugs and alcohol. The years have worn him down and he seems numb to what drew him to the business in the first place.
Ray Romano is hilarious and almost unrecognizable at first as one of Finestra’s partners Zack Yankovich. Juno Temple plays Jamie Vine, an A&R assistant who has secret aspirations of climbing that corporate ladder and is determined to bring in the next big band. Oh, and she dabbles in drug dealing on the side. Olivia Wilde is solid as Devon Finestra, Richie’s wife. In their scenes together you can tell that they are going through a rough patch and this may be because of something that hasn’t been revealed yet. It could also be the reason for Richie’s drug use. Cocaine is very present in this show but it’s the music industry in the 70’s, so that shouldn’t be a surprise. An appearance from Andrew Dice Clay as a top radio man all but steals the show and makes you wish he was a series regular.
Jagger’s influence is prevalent throughout the pilot and if you watched Boardwalk Empire you have to be excited about Cannavale as the lead. After winning an Emmy for the role of the psychotic Gyp Rosetti, he more than deserves this. The ending of the episode is a bit confusing in the sense that you aren’t sure if what is happening is a hallucination or is really taking place. This week’s episode is most likely going to clear that up. I can say I enjoyed Vinyl for the most part and am excited to see where it goes. It has already been given a second season despite opening with a modest 764,000 viewers. The two-hour premiere might have been too much for some, but I think the show will catch on, too many talented people involved for it not to.
Kevin McQuade covers television for MFST, you can follow him on Twitter @kmcquade9.