TV Review: Vinyl: Season 1 - Episode 3
EPISODE: Season 1, Episode 3: Whispered Secrets
PLOT: Richie (Bobby Cannavale) finds himself in hot water when Devon (Olivia Wilde) finds out he killed the deal with Polygram. Meanwhile, he tries to improve the company’s bottom line by trimming some of the fat, while Clark (Jack Quaid) makes a run at Alice Cooper (Dustin Ingram).
REVIEW: This week’s episode of Vinyl furthers my belief in the overall potential of the show, with the debauchery of Richie and his cokey pals moving somewhat to the background as Vinyl becomes more about the actual business of building a record company. One thing that’s worth mentioning is that Vinyl really does require a half-decent knowledge of seventies music in order to get most of the jokes (like the dig and England Dan). The show starts out with a new character, Ken Marino’s Jackie Jervis – Richie’s arch-enemy and rival – roasting his fellow record execs with lots of knowing jabs at things from Disco pioneer Neil Bogart’s coke problem (Richie’s is minor by comparison) and Berry Gordy. To get it – you have to know who these guys are. If you don’t, well – maybe Vinyl’s not really for you, although at a rumored $100 million for a season, maybe it needs to get a bit more user-friendly.
In many ways, Vinyl is the Mad Men of seventies rock n’ roll, and nowhere is that clearer than in Juno Temple’s arc as Jamie, the secretary trying to get on-board with the A&R reps through her discovery of proto-punk band The Nasty Bits. This comes to a bit of a head this week as she battles with Max Casella’s Julie, who thinks it’s a good idea to turn a punk band into a Kinks’ clone. Her journey will be an interesting one – but she needs more screen time.
Probably the best part of this week’s episode had to do with Ato Essandoh’s Lester Grimes, with him being impressed by a DJ spinning records and perhaps plotting his return to the biz. He gets the best scene of the week, with him trying to croak out a song with his ruined voice, escaping into a fantasy of what he life could have been, and then crashing back down to earth. Likewise, the stuff with Quaid’s Clark is pretty fun, with him hanging out with Alice Cooper and trying to convince him to go solo, an idea that leads to a disastrous, near fatal encounter with one of Cooper’s guillotine props, but foreshadows the fact that a few years later Alice Cooper actually did go solo.
By contrast, the dullest part of the episode centered on Devon as she goes to Andy Warhol (John Cameron Mitchell) to raise money for her Russian dance troop, only to find herself in way over her head the moment she thinks she’s escaped with her pride intact. There wasn’t too much interesting here and the Warhol bit felt tacked-on.
Through it all, Vinyl remains Cannavale’s show, and as usual he’s electric, from the way he sashays through a party after doing a line, to his sweaty panic towards the end when Buck’s body is found by the cops. The show lives and breathes by his performance and he’s great. As long as he keeps up the amazing work, Vinyl’s going to be one to watch. I’m fully on-board; although I realize that as it is, Vinyl is for a niche audience that needs to grow if the show is going to sustain itself (putting the third episode against The Walking Dead and the Oscars doesn’t help).