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.
Another show on the horizon is from Baz Luhrman (Strictly Ballroom, Moulin Rouge). The Netflix show The Get Down will also focus on New York in the late 70’s, with season 1 following the rise of rap from the streets and disco in the clubs. There isn’t much known about which music scenes will be featured in future seasons. Punk would be the obvious choice, rather than minimalist composers. All we have so far is the clip below.
I’m a little more optimistic for this show, although Baz Luhrman is better with ideas rather than execution. I appreciated the hell out of his modern updates of Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge but in the end those movies never quite landed enough to be taken seriously. I never got to see The Great Gatsby but the reviews seemed to confirm his fascination with spectacle rather than substance.
Not counting Empire on Fox, and not since the 60’s with The Monkees and The Partridge Family have we seen television series set in the worlds of rock and roll or pop. Now we’re getting two. So, I pose these questions to the Hall…
Are you interested?
If not, what era do you think would be worthy of a television series or season?
Are these shows doomed to begin with?