Vinyl: Season 1 (Blu-ray) – Series Review
Follow Genre: Drama, Music
Distributor: Warner Home Video
Episodes: 10
Duration: approx 55 min. (per episode)

Vinyl: Season 1 (Blu-ray) – Series Review

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Rating: 9.8/10 (4 votes cast)

Sex, drugs and rock & roll are probably the best way to describe the lifestyle of many in the seventies, at least of the somewhat younger people then, and this is what Vinyl wants to show us: The hardcore music industry where even labels have to fight to stay afloat. That being said, the series will revolve around one company in particular, one that tries to reinvent itself, due to poor choices in the past, which might have earned it enough money but made it lose its integrity. If you think this sounds rather technical and dry, you’re sorely mistaken. All of that being said, to paint a proper picture of the series, we’ll have to spoil a few plot points of the pilot episode, which spans around two hours.


Back in the seventies many music icons were born or were simply enforcing their status as a legendary figure, and Vinyl takes us back to this period in time. While there is a whirlpool of important characters in the series, we’ll follow Richie Finestra (Bobby Cannavale), the manager of American Century Records, which has a fair amount of famous people under their label. Nonetheless, the label is slowly going to hell, simply because of lack of finances, forcing him to cook the books in order to look attractive to possible sponsors. That being said, there’s light at the end of the tunnel, as the German company Polygram wishes to take over American Century, offering millions to Richie and his partners Zak Yankovich (Ray Romano) and Skip Fontaine (J.C. MacKenzie). Everyone is rather stoked about the company being taken over, simply because they don’t realize the new German management wants to lay off a hefty amount of people, in order to supply their own staff.

While Richie is also fairly certain of wanting the sell the company, as he hopes to ‘retire’ and live a more relaxed life together with his wife Devon (Olivia Wilde) and his two children, he still wants to keep on promoting his label, especially with the uncertainty of the deal after blowing the contract with Led Zeppelin, and thus he reaches out to Frank ‘Buck’ Rogers (Andrew Dice Clay), a man who owns many radio stations but refuses to play any music from American Century. After a fairly positive chat, Buck agrees to play music, but things turn rather weird after a few days, when Joe (Bo Dietl) calls up Richie, who is at his own birthday party, to come over, as Buck really wants to see him. Hesitantly Richie leaves to find Buck drugged, making him act crazy, waving a gun around, and when he fondles Richie, Richie tosses him aside. When a struggle breaks out between the two, Joe interferes and Richie and Joe end up killing the popular radio manager, and dispose of the body. All of this makes Richie rethink the deal, as well as toss him off the wagon making his old drug and alcohol addictions resurface.

Vinyl 1

Even though the episodes all span around 55 minutes, the series still progresses at a fairly quick pace, as there is so much going on, with Richie, his family, his company and of course the artists he wishes to sign under his label. The chaotic mindset, poor choices and at times awful behavior of the protagonist make it hard for the viewer to determine if you either love his persona or despise it, in many scenes it feels like there’s no in-between. Nonetheless, thanks to the fact Richie tends to make hasty decisions and illogical choices, you’ll never truly know what is about to happen next, which creates a suspenseful, yet pleasant viewing atmosphere.

For a series that revolves around music, it’s only natural there are snippets that involve some music on the foreground, be it relevant of the timeframe the series situates itself in, and of course to set the mood. The tracks that are played are placed heavily in the foreground, overshadowing all what’s going on, which some viewers might feel is a bit too loud. Nonetheless, it’s actually a great choice of the creators, and feels like it really empowers what is going on, as well as the series in general. That being said, some of the intermezzos feel a bit cheap compared to the rest of the show, or show that the actor isn’t singing the song himself, which proves to be a shame.

Acting performances in this first season of Vinyl are pretty much stellar. Not only does Bobby Cannavale prove to be the perfect face for this series, he also proves to be a convincing off-the-rails-label manager, who is running himself in the ground. Olivia Wilde, once a regular on House M.D. now puts down a great performance as Richie’s wife, who can’t cope with his choices and behavior anymore. Truth be told, every character, even the side characters or those who represent the younger selves of legendary figures in the music industry of the seventies (and even now) put down a stage presence that equals that of the main characters.

Vinyl 2

The extras on the Blu-ray edition Vinyl: Season 1 are decent, yet absolutely not impressive. You’ll be treated to a lengthy making of (30 minutes), and an ‘Inside the Episode’ for every episode, zooming in on certain choices or scenes from their respective episodes. Other than that, there’s an extra disc that features a cast roundtable, which is simply a chat between the main cast members, discussing the shooting of the series and some other facts. While the latter proves to be entertaining, this feature feels very unnatural, scripted and acted, rather than an actual chat between everyone to reminisce about what they have created.


Vinyl: Season 1 is a delight for connoisseurs of the seventies music scene and a psychedelic, dramatic storyline that has proper character evolution. While music may be the main thought of the series, which is incorporated quite well, the scenes between the different characters are superb and add an extra drive to the series. Music at its dirtiest and grittiest, while trying to stay afloat by scraping the bottom of the barrel. Certainly a great show to watch, even knowing there will never be a second season to enjoy.

Rock'N'Roll Pilot 101

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Rating: 9.8/10 (4 votes cast)
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Vinyl: Season 1 (Blu-ray) - Series Review, 9.8 out of 10 based on 4 ratings

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