TV: Lots new but not noteworthy

 

New Shows:

Vinyl (HBO)

Vinyl premiered this week on HBO with an almost 2 hour pilot. There isn’t much I can say about it except that there is lots of cocaine, some decent music from the 70s (but not as much as I had hoped for) and reasonably good acting. The show takes place in the 70s and captures the drug and crime scene in NYC very effectively but I’m not sure that and a some decent music is enough to draw people in.   I’m not sure how a show created by Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger dealing with early 70s music with I love could be a bust but I’m concerned that it is.  The plot goes all over the place and there is no compelling reason to stay tuned in. I keep telling myself that pilots aren’t usually very good but this one was way too long and not so great. I’ll stick with it for a while and hope it improves but I’m not particularly optimistic.

11.22.63 (Hulu)

11.22.63 is adapted from a Stephen King novel and stars James Franco as someone who travels back in time to the Kennedy assassination (hence the title).   Rather than drop an entire season at once, Hulu is releasing one episode a week (on Mondays). This week was the first. I haven’t read the book but many critics who had access to all the episodes have and several had issues with the book to show translation. Critics who have not read the book seem to like it better. I have never read a Stephen King novel but I have to say I was mesmerized by the first episode of 11.22.63. I couldn’t break away from it between the plot line, the supernatural, the acting – all kept me glued to the TV. Now I know that the concept is far fetched but if the rest of the episodes are this intense, I’ll be a happy camper!  If you are interested in this time period and or like James Franco, you will likely enjoy this.

Love (Netflix)

Netflix dropped a new show Love this week. Judd Apatow is Executive Producer and has writing credits. I have seen the first few and it is a binge-worthy show along the lines of “You’re the Worst” except not as good.   I know I’ve said I don’t watch “comedies” but these “dramedies” about dysfunctional people in even more dysfunctional relationships seem to draw me in. In this one, Gus, a very nerdy Midwestern transplant to LA meets Mickey, a drug loving radio program manager. Both are coming off long-term relationships and they slowly start to hang together. The first 15 or 20 minutes of episode 1 were horrible but it picked up some in episodes 2 and 3 so I’ll watch a couple of more.  I wouldn’t race to this one.

 

If you love 50s/70s/ music, don’t miss this:

This week’s PBS American Master’s has a 1 hour profile on Carole King entitled “Carol King Natural Woman” that you should be able to get via On Demand or in reruns. The documentary looks back on this amazing artist’s career with footage spanning much of her early life. The music is great and this trip back to the 60s/70s was fun.   Carol and her first husband Gerry Goffin wrote so many hit songs that are shown here and even if you think you know her works, I believe you will be surprised at just how many  hits were written and composed by this team.   I tend to remember Carole from the Tapestry and James Taylor period so seeing her early years and all the songs she wrote is fascinating.   She truly is so gifted.  I reveled in the music  and the film footage for the entire hour.

Returning shows:

Better Call Saul (AMC) returned for Season 2.   While this is no Breaking Bad, last season was pretty good so I am sticking with it.  The Season 2 premier has “Saul” first in a flash-forward to his Cinnabon job in a short black and white sequence. This is followed by Saul going back and forth on whether to join the law firm that he spurned at the end of last season and working a scam with Kim whom he later has sex with. The show featured Mike for one very short scene, which was unfortunate as he is the best part of the show. I’m not sure how Saul’s descent to the Breaking Bad character is going to progress this season and this episode wasn’t the best but the show is still worth watching for now.

Finales:

London Spy (BBC America) had its finale this week even though it seemed like it just began. I liked this show despite some confusing plotlines and more mysteries than could possibly be solved in one season. The finale delivered some of those answers and one of the only upbeat moments in the entire season in the last scene. The main reason to watch the finale (besides getting a little closure)  is the acting by Charlotte Rampling. She was just brilliant as Alex’s “mother”. In addition to Rampling, Jim Broadbent was wonderful in the episodes he was in and was probably the best -developed character of all. Ben Whishaw as Danny had many terrific moments as well. This isn’t a show I’m highly recommending but if a well-acted story about gay lovers who get caught up in a horrific spy nightmare appeals to you, it’s worth checking out. I have no idea if it is coming back for another season but I can see where they could go with it.

 

 

 

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