Resin Heroes

Direct Beam Comms #20



TV

Vinyl

Mondo Alien Poster

Mondo Alien Poster

The season finale of the first season of Vinyl aired on HBO last Sunday. Overall, I enjoyed this show about a New York record label in the early 1970s a lot, but thought this finale episode was a bit weak. Vinyl does suffer from a typical first season issue many dramas suffer from these days — mainly an overstuffed story with too many characters/things going on. Series that have been on the air a few years can be overstuffed, but since the viewer already has a grasp of who is who and what all stories are happening it isn’t an issue. But with series like Vinyl in their first seasons this can lead to confusion.

I felt like in Vinyl maybe 40% of the storylines could be cut in order to let other stories expand. I thought the story of record exec Richie (Bobby Cannavale) and his wife Devon (Olivia Wilde) and what they were going through this season was very interesting. And of Richie’s partners in the company played by J.C MacKenzie and Ray Romano was great too.

But there was so much other “stuff” going on from junior record execs to a murder to the mafia to women in a 1970s workplace to the emergence of rap music … that drew the focus away from these core stories.

And at the start of the season I thought that some of Vinyl would focus on the past, especially with Richie and his first musical discovery Lester (Ato Essandoh), where Lester’s future as a musician was cut short by Richie’s mob ties. But this didn’t seem to be a part of the show other than in an episode or two.

Unfortunately, much of the finale of Vinyl hinged on a murder Richie committed in the first episode and spent the other nine episodes dealing with and whether or not Richie’s musical discovery The Nasty Bits would ever be ready for a big musical showcase opening for The New York Dolls. The whole murder plot line seemed very out of place in a show like Vinyl and only served to bring in Richie’s drug/alcohol abuse and mob-ties into the story. Which could have easily been done by opening the show with Richie being a drug addicted alcoholic with mob ties rather than the addition of the murder storyline.

And as for the whole The Nasty Bits storyline… While I appreciate what they creators of Vinyl were trying to do by showing Richie was onto something with this proto-punk band, this storyline went on so long and was so barely interesting that by the end of Vinyl I didn’t care if The Nasty Bits scored a big hit or fell apart and disbanded at the end of the show.

(I might be in the minority but I did greatly enjoyed actors playing real-life musicians in the show like David Bowie and Elvis and the psychedelic dreamlike segues of other actors as famous musicians miming songs too.)

Overall first season: B Season one final episode “Alibi”: C-

Better Call Saul

If the first season finale of Vinyl was a bit of a letdown, the second season finale of Better Call Saul was quite the opposite — it was wonderful. This prequel to Breaking Bad which has never been too beholden to that progenitor series has cut its own path right from the very first episode.

The second season finds a pre-Saul Goodman Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) accepting his dream job at a large law firm, and getting everything he’s ever dreamed of or worked for like a huge signing bonus, a fancy car and condo too. Yet even with all this Jimmy’s still not quite able to shake his streak of being one step above a con man. Be it filming and airing a TV commercial without the knowledge of his bosses or grifting people in bars with his girlfriend Kim (Rhea Seehorn) even if it’s all for fun.

Whereas most dramas these days are about high stakes — Stop the zombies before they overrun our settlement! Find the murderer before the end of the episode! — instead, Better Call Saul is the master of the low-stakes. Be it Jimmy trying get his brother Chuck’s (Michael McKean) respect even if Chuck has absolutely no respect for Jimmy, trying to start a fledgling law firm or keep out of hot water with his girlfriend.

The stories of Better Call Saul are barely newsworthy, or if they’re newsworthy at all they’re on the back page of the local paper. Which in an era of dramas that hype the impossible and go bigger and bigger with their plots each season is a breath of fresh air.

The stakes do get a bit high for another Breaking Bad alum Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) who’s living off a police officer’s pension and is trying to make ends meet as a parking lot attendant. Which is fine except that when his daughter in-law needs money to move to a safer neighborhood, Ehrmantraut starts down the path of a life of crime in order to make some fast cash. Much of Ehrmantraut’s later storyline this season dealt with him finding ways to not kill people yet still be able to pocket extra cash.

I get the sense that when the proverbial crap does hit the fan, when Jimmy does finally “break bad” and becomes Saul Goodman and Mike does finally cross over to the dark-side of murder, that things will change for these characters and the show as a whole.

Which I personally love — I have no interest in shows that stay the same year after year. Give me story change or give me my remote!

Grade: A+

The Last Panthers

Aliens 30th Anniversary: The Original Comics Series

Aliens 30th Anniversary: The Original Comics Series

This UK/French series is currently airing on Sundance here in the US. It’s an interesting show about the criminals who pull off a diamond heist that goes wrong and escape across Europe and the police and insurance investigators, the main one played by Samantha Morton, chasing them.

Watching the first episode I was struck as to just how much stuff happens from an intricately planned heist that involved setting cars on fire and parkour jumps from building to building to locations in France and Bulgaria and Serbia.

There was so much stuff going on that what happened in the first episode was almost enough to keep another series in story for an entire season.

Grade: C+

Comics

Aliens 30th Anniversary: The Original Comics Series

Collecting the original 1988 Dark Horse black and white Aliens series is the hardback Aliens 30th Anniversary: The Original Comics Series. I own the original six-issue comics series as well as a softcover collected edition of it too. But you’d better believe when I heard this oversized edition was in the works I placed an order for Aliens 30th Anniversary: The Original Comics Series at my local comics retailer the next day.

My one quibble here is that it’s the 30th anniversary of the movie Aliens, not this comics series which is still a spry 28-something. 😉

Movies

Independence Day: Resurgence trailer

“They like to get the landmarks!”

Cool Sites

Dune – Behind The Scenes

All sorts of info on the classic 1984 movie.

This week in pop-culture history

  • 1951: The Thing from Another World premiers in theaters.
  • George Takei, Sulu of Star Trek turns 79.