Jan 192016

Two shows about music in the late 70’s are coming to television this year. Both show have the blueprint of something I would look forward to watching. Yet, something about the promos for these shows smells a little off. Is it just me?

If you were paying attention to the commercials during this NFL post season, you most likely saw ads for the upcoming HBO series Vinyl. If you haven’t, see the clip below. The story of Vinyl is set in New York in the late 70’s at the dawn of punk, rap and the rise of disco. The show comes with the backing of heavyweights Martin Scorsese, Terrence Winter and Mick Jagger as executive producers. Scorsese and Winter had previous success with the prohibition era crime drama Boardwalk Empire, another east coast show set during a volatile period in American culture. I liked that show a hell of a lot and the producers proved a lot of critics wrong with the casting of Steve Buscemi in the lead role. This time around the cast of Vinyl is led by Bobby Cannavale. He’s always been a cilantro kind of guy when I see him in the movies. Also troubling, are the promo clips. It all looks like something we’ve seen before. Guy has a vision, guy discovers something, gets rich , gets the girl, does a lot of blow, lives life to excess and presumably falls back to earth. This time around though, it’s all set to the soundtrack of the New York Dolls, CBGB’s and Studio 54.

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  16 Responses to “Music On Television: Vinyl and The Get Down”

  1. BigSteve




  2. BigSteve

    Seriously Mick Jagger’s involvement in Vinyl is about as encouraging as his participation in Primitive Cool was. I might give it a look, because I do pay for HBO, even though I don’t really watch it much. But there is virtually no chance it won’t be a complete embarrassment.

  3. misterioso

    What he said.

  4. I would love for it to be good but it won’t be. The three big problems off the top of my head are:

    1. As much as I love Scorsese, he appears to be running out of shots. One of the promos went from an increasingly chaotic series of cuts to a tight overhead shot of Bobby Cannavale doing a big line of coke and then staring right up at the camera on the ceiling, eyes bugged out, crazed/panicked look on his face. I feel like I’ve seen that more times than the teen movie montage where Walking on Sunshine plays while the young protagonists try on a bunch of outfits while getting ready for the big dance/date.

    2. Everyone on this list is far too obsessive about music for dramatizations to ring true. I don’t know much about bootlegging, the New Jersey mob, or Zombies, which has allowed me to enjoy Boardwalk Empire, the Sopranos and Walking Dead, because I can say to myself “Yeah, that’s probably what it’s like.” With music, I’m just going to end up thinking “That’s not what Johnny Thunders looked like and that would never have happened.”

    3. Bobby Cannavale. I really liked him in the Station Agent but everything that I’ve seen him in since has been too over the top, particularly Boardwalk Empire. It’s become exhausting to watch him. Maybe he can dial things back with the right project but I don’t see that happening on a series about the excesses of the 70’s music industry.

  5. misterioso

    Exactly. There’s no question that the more you know about a subject the less likely it is that you will enjoy a movie about it, whether it’s a biography, a literary adaptation, or a depiction of a particular time and place. I liked Boardwalk Empire quite a lot, and while it feels “authentic” to me I also realize that given the distance in time from the events and given my modest level of knowledge about the time and place I am less likely to get hung up on how phony it (perhaps) actually is. So I figure that sometime around 2060 it might be okay to do a show on the rock scene in the 70s.

  6. I will try Vinyl. The Ray Romano character is kind of interesting. Never watched his comedy show, but I watched him a bit in Men of A Certain age a few years ago, and he was good.

    I can suspend my disbelief if the show is done well, although it seems harder as you get older. I may be the only person around here who liked “That Thing You Do” movie that Tom Hanks did 20 years ago.

    PS — Every year I say I’m getting rid of HBO, and I never do, because there’s something that I think I’ll want to watch. I am the poster boy for “consumer inertia.” Vinyl and True Detective better be good this year, or else HBO!

  7. BigSteve

    I guess this is why I found Treme mostly cringeworthy. I enjoyed being able to recognize the various locations around town, but I lived through the post-Katrina period, and the story just didn’t ring true to me.

  8. BigSteve

    Yes, right now Bill Maher is the only thing I watch on HBO. Sometimes I scroll through their listings for a week to see about recording something, but it seems like it’s just the worst movies made in Hollywood all in one place.

  9. cliff sovinsanity

    Great comments so far. Although I often feel disappointed with rock and roll movies, I’m going to give Vinyl and The Get Down a chance. Unless the early reviews are devastating. There aren’t many HBO shows that have failed me. (Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Curb, hell I even liked Carvinvale!).
    I would like to see a television series that followed a band around like in the movie Hard Core Logo. The series could follow a band that’s trying to revive their career. They visit all these small towns along the way. A band trying to hold together despite the years of hating each other. Fighting with the locals or the fans. Threatening their manager or their label.

    Oh, and I also liked That Thing You Do. It’s not Mean Streets, but it’s a good rental. The songs are catchy. I’ve got the soundtrack.
    Can we agree that WKRP In Cincinnati was a good show? Herb Tarlek’s suit jackets, anybody? Turkey drop?

  10. BigSteve

    I liked That Thing You Do as well. It was a modest little movie about marginal characters, and that makes reach and grasp more likely to be evenly matched.

  11. 2000 Man

    WKRP was one of my favorites. My dad liked it, too. The only thing that bugged me was that they were a low power AM station and while Travis was there they got better ratings books. Sorry, but I was a teenager then and AM radio was NOT where we went for anything except sports. It sounded like shit. Otherwise, I thought the show was great and for awhile I really wanted to be a DJ until I figured out I’d have to listen to music I didn’t like. I would hate to turn something I love so much into a chore.

  12. That Vinyl thing looks terrible. I love Scorsese. He’s one of those people I’m pretty sure I’ll never hang out with but that I’ll one night have dreams of hanging out with and feeling like we’re really tuned into each other. I’d have to steer clear of getting into the last 20 years or so of his work. It’s been a while since I’ve loved anything by him. That trailer falls to the same ridiculous, untrue fantasy that asswipes like Lenny Kravitz first codified in his “Are You Gonna Go My Way” video: Rock ‘n roll is so fucking exciting! The audience is SO into it, like Pentecostal churchgoers thrust into an orgy! Cant get enough of that coke!

    I just read about the Baz Lurhman show and am intrigued. I don’t think any movie I ever dreaded seeing more than Moulin Rouge paid off more. I LOVED that movie. I didn’t know who I was, as I sat there dazzled by the spectacle. The trailer for Lurhman’s show looks a little geeky and innocent, like an animated version of what the late ’70s were like, at least in cheesy slice-of-life movies. There was a scene or two of orgasmic Pentecostal dancing, but a lot of it looked like Grease or some cash-in attempt post-Saturday Night Fever. That Lurhman guy actually brings his own sense of style to music. The Last Waltz was Scorsese’s one successful film showing how orgasmic rock ‘n roll can be. He’s had some success since working in rock music, but I don’t think he brings anything more than his outdated, romanticized sensibilities to the topic.

  13. mockcarr

    funoka, I like That Thing You Do. Something doesn’t have to be authentic to like it as long as it’s entertaining enough. The characters and events just have to adhere to the logic or perhaps even the sustained lack thereof in the “world” created by the thing for me to be ok with it. That world doesn’t need to have much to do with mine. I’ve read a lot of Civil War history, and I know that Irish punk Daniel Day Lewis isn’t Lincoln, and the actual person didn’t say or do everything in that flick and events were flipped around for dramatic purposes, but I still enjoyed him doing his method thing with that role. You can’t hold a movie or TV show up to reality. Even reality is edited.

    Now with these series, there’s ever danger that the elements involved won’t meet my criteria, but yeah, since I’m paying for HBO already, I suspect I will watch 15 minutes and see if I stay awake for one of them. Probably I will forget the Netflix one is even on.

  14. mockcarr

    Agreed. Herb Tarlek and Uncle Floyd had the same tailor. Sadly, that man is still not eligible for parole. However, it was Venus who said “I got suits I can’t get parts for”.

    As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.

  15. ladymisskirroyale

    Plus it had Steve Zahn in it’s cast; I always enjoy his performances.

  16. ladymisskirroyale


    I’m more apt to watch Lurhman’s The Get Down because it seems to be purposefully and ridiculously over the top and, if the clips are to be believed, include better dancing. Lurhman drives me insane sometimes, but he gets a pass from me due to my unwavering love for “Strictly Ballroom.”

    Vinyl: not so much. However, would Mod and the rest of us be more likely to watch it if Cannavale had a greater amount of obviously fake facial hair? Chest hair?

    The two shows also appear to be the 70’s from the white vs. black musical experience.

    Additional questions: Will there be rats? Cars screeching around the corners? Needles in the gutter? Other cinematic tropes? I’m not too hopeful. I could watch a classic 70’s movie with the soundtrack to get a better experience.

    Lastly, will the music of the 80’s ever be taken seriously?

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