Vinyl, Ep. 1.01: “Pilot” shows great promise

Vinyl, Season One, Episode One: “Pilot”
Written by Terence Winter and George Mastras
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Airs Sundays at 9pm on HBO

It seemed inevitable that Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger would work together at some point. After all, The Rolling Stones have created the essential music of Scorsese’s life, and his films would be profoundly different works without “Gimme Shelter” or “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” Scorsese did film the band for Shine a Light, but Vinyl, which made its debut this Sunday on HBO, is his true collaboration with Jagger.
Scorsese’s previous television project, Boardwalk Empire, had an uneven record. It also started with a Scorsese-directed pilot that would dictate the show’s style, but he never directed another episode and his influence would wane in future seasons. The show’s critical standing was resuscitated by the end of its run, but it came to feel strangely inert. Scorsese has already said that he plans to directed more episodes in the future, which certainly augurs well for the series. No one can evoke the grittiness of New York City in the 1970s like Scorsese. In one scene early in the episode, Bobby Cannavale stares out the window and the dirty, crowded street looks like leftover footage from Taxi Driver. Jagger is also an expert on the debauched hedonism of rock music. Jagger has stated that he was interested in doing a film from inside the music business in the style of Scorsese’s Casino (one of his underrated masterpieces). The film was ultimately unwieldy and morphed into a television show.
Vinyl starts Cannavale as Richie Finestra, the head of the record label American Century, which is currently suffering from a subpar roster as well as rebellious acts like Led Zeppelin and Donny Osmond (!). The episode opens with Richie sitting in his car, filled to the gills with booze and cocaine. . .
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