This week’s installment of Vinyl gave us a new character, a PR guru and lover of Richie’s that could be the perfect foil to call the American Century head on his bullshit, and bring the company out of its current hole. We get a taste of the post-Transformer Lou Reed experience via a decently-mimed performance of "White Light/White Heat," and an interesting look at the compromises that bands sometimes make to succeed, with the Nasty Bitz’s leader agreeing to kick his friend and lead guitarist out of the fold. Surrounding that? Plenty of unhinged stupidity, mealy-mouthed dialogue, and all kinds of ridiculousness.
1. Richie’s temptress
Toward the end of the episode, Richie is informed that a young hottie wearing gold would more than likely be happy to let the embattled and twitchy record company head snort cocaine out of her navel. Cue a desperate scene that jumps between his freaked out face and this lithe gal bumping and grinding to the Lou Reed song playing in the background. And she gets closer… and closer…a nd closer…and Richie gets more terrified… and excited… and terrified… You know you’re in troubled waters when you’re evoking the same mood as Billy Idol’s "Cradle Of Love" video.
2. Richie licking cocaine off his hand
It’s bad enough that I’ve become this intimately familiar with the nostrils of Bobby Cannavale as we watch his character snort up line after line of Bolivian marching powder. But as he hides out in the bathroom during his pathetic effort to keep Hannibal on his label, just as he finishes up the bump he tapped out onto his hand, he gives it a quick lick to make sure he didn’t miss anything. It looked even more nauseating than my description.
3. Kip’s very Cockney ways
We get it already. The kid is a lower class schmoe from London who wants to be a rock ‘n’ roll star. We don’t need to have constant reminders of this fact via his uncomfortable use of slang like "dosh" and "geezer" and all that malarkey.
4. The gratuitous Big Star reference
Just in case you missed the fact that the people behind and on this show really know rock music, here’s a little snippet of "Thirteen," and a knowing comment that the only people that bought the record were rock critics. Is Cameron Crowe secretly behind this series? Or is this exactly what his rock ‘n’ roll TV show is going to be like too?
5. "He In Racist Fire"?
For a Pulitzer Prize finalist, Adam Rapp sure has a tough time working his way around the scripts for this show. Nothing exemplifies that better than the strange dinner conversation that found Hannibal making pointed anagrams of the names of the people around the table. The worst was Richie’s: He In Racist Fire. Which means… what… exactly? Is this some brilliant bit of symbolism that I’m not smart enough to understand?
6. Jamie’s mom threatens her daughter
Just after the consomme gets served, the mother of the ambitious A&R whiz kid shuts her daughter up by threatening to stick a fork in her throat instead. We’ve already established that Jamie is trying to overcome an awful family situation, but that just seemed gratuitous. Though maybe that’s how things really were in the ‘70s, with people threatening to stab one another over a fine meal.
Robert Ham is a Portland-based freelance writer and regular contributor toPaste. You can find more of his writing here;.