Thursday, March 3, 2016

Pilot Review: Vinyl

Vinyl (HBO)
Premiered February 14 at 9pm

Apologies for the severe delay on this and all subsequent reviews – taking a few weeks off TV during the honeymoon was a nice thing to do, but it’s supremely difficult to catch up. Fear not – I’m less than two full weeks behind on watching at this point, so I’ll make sure to get up to speed as quickly as I can. I watched this two-hour pilot about a week or so ago, so it’s mostly still fresh. It’s no surprise that the pilot of the latest period series from HBO was directed by Martin Scorsese and stars an actor who won an Emmy for the last show whose pilot he directed, “Boardwalk Empire.” Bobby Cannavale is a true talent who’s perfect for this role, and that’s clear from the very beginning of the episode. This was quite the in-depth and extensive pilot in terms of plot and story development, introducing us fully to the record world and all that comes with it, starting with drugs, violence, and many, many money problems. The cast is certainly interesting, with Ray Romano serving as an intriguing choice to play Zak Yankovich but proving to be relatively entertaining thus far. I like Olivia Wilde as Richie’s wife, and she nailed that scene where she asked him for a sip of his drink and then threw it in his face. I’m most pleased to see Juno Temple getting a very fitting part as an eager assistant doing her best to make her mark on the music world. Like “Boardwalk Empire” and “Mad Men” before it, this pilot was very dense, but there’s obviously a lot to cover here. I’m willing to give it at least a few more episodes, and I think I’ll end up sticking around if it picks up its pace a bit.

How will it work as a series? Two hours was a very long time, and I think this show can do plenty in an hour every week. Like the shows that preceded it, this feels more like a film than like television, and for “The Sopranos” and other landmark shows, that was an extremely positive quality. I suspect this show can do the same, especially with a magnetic character such as Richie at its center.
How long will it last? This show got renewed for a second season way back on February 18th, just four days after it aired this episode. I’m not sure if it will run too long since four or five seasons is often what HBO shows get these days, but it will have a healthy future that lives as long as its creators and executives deem appropriate.

Pilot grade: B

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