“Vinyl” (HBO) – Pilot episode review

The new Golden Age of Television carries on with the first episode of the new series Vinyl, which premiered Sunday evening on HBO Canada. Set in 1973 at the apex of the then booming record industry in New York City, the premiere uses the real-life event of the collapse of the Mercer Arts Center as its dramatic fulcrum. The characters who populate this urban inferno are shockingly cynical and debased. The record industry in the mid-1970s revealed humanity at its most decadent, with fraudulent business practices melding with ruthless exploitation, all peppered with relentless drug use, manic sexual practices and out-of-control personal behaviors.

The resonance of these stories – based in hard-luck narratives from the likes of Tommy James, who states in his autobiography that Morris Levy owed him 40 million dollars in unpaid royalties – powers what promises to be the long, twisted and engrossing plot lines of Vinyl. The first episode sports a shocking, drown-out murder, along with domestic discord and the kind of drug-fueled excess that will undoubtedly bring on an avalanche of dramatic possibilities.

Vinyl is off to a fantastic start.

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Renewing English Canadian Dramatic TV & Film

Imagine ordinary people across Canada being as passionate about drama as they are about hockey. It can happen if we set up 180 small teams of professional movie makers to be community artists in residence across Canada. Each team will mobilize and work with their home communities to create dramatic features or series that involve ordinary citizens in the process – much the same way hockey is coached and nurtured. When community projects are completed, they would go to regional competitions, then to national and the top ten would receive world marketing budgets. Ordinary Canadians will tune in – or log on – to Canadian drama in numbers that will astound industry experts. A democratic revolution in Canadian cinema will blast a wave of participatory creativity around the world.

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