Vinyl is an upcoming television series that will, for Americans, air on the cable/satellite network HBO in 2016. It is yet to get a deal with any U.K. networks but expect it to be on either BBC Two or Channel 4, as they have been the previous ‘big hitters’ with regard to HBO shows, unless of course it goes onto something like Sky Atlantic like HBO’s most recent drama Game of Thrones. So what’s the deal with the undeniably brilliantly titled Vinyl?
Well, firstly, it’s an HBO show, which is almost always a good sign. From Band of Brothers to The Sopranos, The Wire to Game of Thrones, the HBO network has a number of excellent, well-received series under its belt, both commercially and critically. It is clear therefore, that they have something of a knack for choosing good quality programmes to broadcast. Furthermore, speaking of The Sopranos, the creator of Vinyl, Terence Winter, was a producer and occasional writer on the show, penning some of the show’s most-loved episodes (University, Pine Barrens, Long Term Parking to name but a few). Winter also created another successful HBO crime drama – Boardwalk Empire, and again was both a producer and occasional writer for the show. He most recently wrote the screenplay for The Wolf of Wall Street, a film the screenplay of which was praised almost unanimously, gaining both a BAFTA and Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
The series will be produced by Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger.
The Wolf of Wall Street brings us nicely onto Martin Scorsese – he, as he did with Boardwalk Empire, will serve as executive producer, alongside Mick Jagger, who most recently produced the James Brown biopic Get on Up, so with this, and his obvious background with The Rolling Stones, he’s no stranger to the 1970s music world. Scorsese himself directed the first episode, and it certainly seems to be a winning combination. Vinyl follows a New York music executive in the late 1970s, and in a way, do you need any more information than that to want to watch it? If so, it probably won’t be your cup of tea, but just consider the sheer diversity of flourishing musical genres in the 1970s; rock and roll, funk and groove, disco, the emergence of glam rock, the emergence of synth-heavy pop and dance/trance, the list is endless, and this could mean that the show has potential for a very long run. This, with the added benefits of the above should mean that Vinyl is a success, or at the very least an interesting watch.
Add to this a strong cast headed up by Bobby Canavale’s Richie Finestra, who from the teaser appears to be our main character, alongside many other previous members of the casts of Boardwalk Empire, The Wolf of Wall Street and even Inside Llewyn Davis, carrying on with the musical theme there. Olivia Wilde also has a role, perhaps as either Richie’s wife or relative, as from the cast lists we can see that her character shares the same surname. Juno Temple is also listed as being in all eight episodes, which is certainly no bad thing. The rest of the cast also looks to be fantastically diverse, both ethnically (and gender-wise too), and in terms of their previous works, all of which should result in a perfect blend of what the 1970s music scene was; a massive mess of regions, cultures, languages, genres etc. that resulted in some of the best music ever produced.
The show appears as though it will have a certain depth too, as well as being enthralling and entertaining. The teaser seems to hint at some drug-related storylines, so the exploration of addiction could be an interesting addition to the strands of the plot in and amongst the euphoria of the music production scene, and Vinyl could even dare to tackle some of the racist and sexist attitudes of the time, which could only be a good thing, providing it’s done sensitively and maturely, rather than simply replicating these. But given HBO, and indeed Terence Winter’s history with this, if touched-upon this is likely to be incredibly effective satire, and we’ll end up hating the characters in which these traits appear.
So in short, Vinyl looks like it could be fantastic; it’s set in one of, if not the greatest decade in music history, has a proven creator and writer in Terence Winter, a great cast alongside a broad plot that has the seeds sewn to be phenomenal, all whilst being produced by Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger of all people, to be broadcast on HBO. Vinyl is one to watch.
By Oliver Rowe