The Problem with HBO's Vinyl

"A New York music executive in the 1970s hustles to make a career out of the city's diverse music scene."

That's the description of Vinyl. With Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger on board as co-creators, they had my curiosity, but with the HBO seal of approval, they had my attention. I had to see this.


I watched all 10 episodes, quickly deeming it a low-rent Madmen wannabe, but the music and artist "cameos" kept me interested. After all, it's all about the music, and it's pretty cool seeing Alice Cooper, Joey Ramone, the New York Dolls, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, the Velvet Underground, Buddy Holly, DJ Kool Herc and others.

My biggest issue with Vinyl was the acting of Bobby Cannavale. His over-the-top performance of Richie Finestra was just too much, and often cringe-worthy. If he was supposed to be the Don Draper of Vinyl, Vinyl didn't stand much of a chance.

Rumour has it Cannavale has been good in other projects, such as Boardwalk Empire, but since I've not yet seen Boardwalk Empire, I just know him as the guy in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine. As I recall, I didn't like him in that, either.

Vinyl has been cancelled, and it deserved to be cancelled. It's a shame, though. With better writing and acting, this could have been a great deal of fun.

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Comments (9 - click here to join in!)

Jody Thornton

Bobby was decent enough in the first two seasons of Third Watch (NBC from 1999-2005). He left because he was wanting a bigger part in the show, so they killed him off rather violently.

June 26, 2016 @ 8:49 PM

Lester Grimes

I thought VInyl was OK & had potential to evolve. Sad they didn't give it a bit more time.

This Lester scene did make me smile.

June 26, 2016 @ 10:44 PM


this series had to much hype.
some episodes were good, some were just scratch your head though..
but I agree the music was good :)
I'm looking forward to the new series Roadies...hope its better then Vinyl was.

but Lester Grimes is a great character :)

June 27, 2016 @ 8:41 AM


Bobby Cannavale has been good in every supporting role I've seen him in.

June 27, 2016 @ 1:26 PM

Ryan G

I completely disagree. Love Vinyl, and I think Cannavale's performance is spot on. Keeping it in context, remember that much of his over the top acting is just a reflection of the character, as he's most often coke'd up or constantly drinking or over indulging in some way, and those types of record execs existed. In fact, in a couple of the episodes he's on the wagon, and as a result his delivery of the character changes quite a bit.

I must admit though, I do genuinely like this guy as an actor so perhaps I'm a bit biased. He was fantastic as a sociopath gangster in Boardwalk, which is the only other thing I've seen him in.

Maybe they'll spin it into a feature or something, because it looks, feels and sounds like a Scorcese film, which is always fun to watch.

June 27, 2016 @ 1:36 PM


Loved the show. The music was spectacular. My fav scene was the Lou Reed one. They should have at least given it one more season

June 27, 2016 @ 11:41 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


That one's on me.

June 28, 2016 @ 8:01 AM


I liked it too and half of the $10,000,000 per episode cost must have gone to buying music rights. One major mistake was the murder subplot that went nowhere. And there were some really horrible "cameos" ie. John Lennon. But man you could smell the cocaine through the TV, just you could smell the cocaine through Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk".

June 28, 2016 @ 2:50 PM

Alison in Ottawa

Is the season self contained or does it leave a lot of story lines unfinished? My plan was to watch it over the summer thinking there would be a season 2 at I'm on the fence, I hate watching a show and have it leave me wondering what the conclusions would be....

June 29, 2016 @ 2:23 PM

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