Saturday, March 4, 2017

Pilot Review: Sun Records

Sun Records (CMT)
Premiered February 23 at 10pm

I didn’t expect to like a show on Country Music Television, and while it’s not necessarily bad, that’s definitely true. I had to look up how long I stuck with “Nashville” – into its second season, it turns out – and this show is set in the past, which doesn’t help matters so much. I’m not particularly interested in learning about this chapter of Elvis’ life, and this show feels like a whole lot of other recent period series, framing itself around a specific event or character but following the same dated drama and tropes. For those with a special interest in the music industry or in learning more about Elvis, I can see why this show might appeal, but I’m not one of those people. There’s only one cast member that I’m familiar with, and that’s Chad Michael Murray, who anchored “One Tree Hill” a decade ago and starred in a few short-lived shows since then. One would hope that, without any actors to latch on to, there might be other factors that could make the show worthwhile, like its music. With other series like “Glee” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” popular these days, I’m not sure how much a country classic series like this appeals to a broad audience, but that’s part of the reason that this show airs a network that I don’t regularly subscribe to interest-wise. Paired with “Nashville,” I think this show makes plenty of sense, but as a series in its own right, I don’t think it has all that much to offer in terms of either quality or nostalgia.

How will it work as a series? It’s the latest show to be billed as a limited series, and it’s based on a Tony-winning musical, so there will only be so much source material from which to draw on before it either tracks history as it happened or expands into totally invented territory. I think this sampling is a pretty good preview of the storytelling we’re likely to get.
How long will it last? Well, I may not be into it, but apparently others are. This show seems to have done better than “Nashville” in the ratings, which is impressive, and the reviews are pretty good, too. Eight episodes have been commissioned, but I have to imagine that CMT is going to want to renew this considering this strong start.