Vinyl (HBO) – Season 1, Episode 3

HBO’s Vinyl continues its shift downwards into a slowly unfolding long-form drama after its spectacular 2-hour start. In the latest episode, “Whispered Secrets,” Bobby Cannavale’s record company owner Richie Finestra is attempting to salvage his sagging imprint while a murder, the mob, and changing tastes and technologies all swirl around him.

The drug and drink-taking excesses still punctuate the series. And punk and rap are still germinating, cockroach-like, under the suffocating rubric of the still dominant mass music scene. The sense of aesthetic pregnancy still manages to promise greater things to come.

For the moment, however, Vinyl is drifting a bit dramatically, even though the series been renewed for a second season by HBO amidst some rather tepid and ultimately disappointing ratings. Hopefully it begins to fulfill its considerable promise soon.

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“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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