Monday, June 13, 2016

Review: Vinyl Original Series (HBO) - Blu Ray

Are you going without HBO to keep your cable bill down? Do you have HBO, but missed out on the first season of Vinyl? Or maybe you are a binge watcher and can’t watch a season of any show until all the episodes are available. Well, not to worry, because the hit show about the 70s record industry (produced by Martin Scorsesse and Mick Jaggar) is now available on Blu Ray and DVD.

Vinyl is a fantastic thrill ride through the world of the early seventies music industry. The hero of the story, Richie Finestra, is a complex and complicated individual who we don’t always know if we should root for. There are times when you want to see him fail just to see what actions are going to happen around him next. If nothing else, he is a lightning rod for events and twisted plotlines. And the twists are plenty. Once you’ve seen the pilot episode, you will be back for the rest of the series, and now that it’s on Blu Ray, you can binge until your new habit is satiated.  

The show follows the rise (and possible fall) of Richie Finestra, played by Bobby Cannavale and the tail end of his record empire, American Century Records. Season one is a detailed insider’s look into the record industry in the early 70s. The sex, the drugs, the backroom deals drawn up amongst the powdery white backdrop of cocaine fueled sessions, are all present and accounted for. Directed by Martin Scorsese and created by him alongside of Mick Jagger, Rich Cohen, and Terence Winter, Vinyl paints a poignant picture of how record deals were done back in the day. The story is encaptivating and I was hooked ten minutes into the pilot episode. 
The pilot is a two hour whirlwind of amazement that narrates how Richie Finestra became the record executive mogul of his time. His record label, American Century, is in deep financial distress due to a series of bad decisions, bad signings, and lots of cocaine. The company is on the verge of a deal selling American Century to a German label, which will make Richie and his partners very wealthy. The deal appears to hinge on the signing of a band that most people may have heard of, Led Zeppelin. And when Zebedee Row appears later in the episode as Robert Plant, he steals the scene. His acting as the most famous lead singer in rock and roll is brilliant.
The tale of how Richie came to be in the music industry is exquisite. It follows the first act Richie ever managed, Lester Grimes, and shows all of the good and bad that comes with the job of being a manager. You feel for his client, especially during one climatic scene, and you begin to understand why so many people may hate Richie Finestra. He is a complex and complicated character. But he is also extremely entertaining, especially when he is ranting about the dire situation of his record company. The line of the pilot episode has to be “This from the fucking sandwich girl!” made during a tense moment when none of the A&R team have any new talent scouted, but the girl bringing them lunch does.
The pilot ends with a nice unexpected twist and a cliffhanger that will have you tuning into episode two. My only complaint about Vinyl is that it has me hooked, and I really don’t have time to be addicted to another television show. Well directed, well acted, and well produced, Vinyl is just a terrific show and another hit for HBO originals. I am going to lose nine hours of my life over the next week binge watching the rest of this series, and that’s okay. The pilot episode has left me wanting more.
Vinyl stars Bobby Cannavale, Ray Romano, and Olivia Wilde. You can purchase Vinyl on ITunes, Amazon, Best Buy, or wherever DVDs are sold. Get some!
Ryo’s Rating: A

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