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Vinyl - S01E05

Drama . Music

From Martin Scorsese, Mick Jagger and Terence Winter, this new drama series is set in 1970s New York. A ride through the sex- and drug-addled music business at the dawn of punk, disco, and hip-hop, the show is seen through the eyes of a record label president, Richie Finestra, who is trying to save his company and his soul without destroying everyone in his path.

Episode Title: He in Racist Fire
Airs: 2016-03-13 at 21:00
  • Jeff Korbelik

    [Bobby Cannavale's] performance is something to behold. Music, not surprisingly, is the driving force here, used creatively and effectively in scene transitions, as scene setters and in performances.

    The Lincoln Journal Star Full Review
  • Dorothy Rabinowitz

    Mr. Cannavale’s performance reaches the heights of magnificence. There’s much more that’s stellar both in the cast--Olivia Wilde is outstanding as Devon, Richie’s hopelessly loving wife--and in the writing.... For its creators and its fine cast, this exuberant, hard-eyed and altogether wonderful evocation of an era gone by seems also to have worked out as planned.

    Wall Street Journal Full Review
  • David Wiegand

    Big, noisy and crazy brilliant HBO series.... The performances are masterful on every level, beginning with Cannavale’s Richie Finestra, who is only occasionally capable of keeping his inner turmoil of rage, ambition and fear of failure from exploding to the surface. With his performance, Cannavale vaults to the top of the list of Emmy candidates.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Matt Zoller Seitz

    The pilot for the musical drama Vinyl is one of Martin Scorsese’s best films, an explosion of amplifier feedback, nose candy, wide-lapeled shirts, and borderline chaos; the next four episodes are almost as good, and on the basis of the first half-season, it already feels like the first new must-see series of 2016.

    New York Magazine (Vulture) Full Review
  • Hank Stuever

    If the point is to spare no expense in attempting to make a flawless, fascinating premium cable narrative about a set of people--mostly men with enormous egos--who have extreme and often criminal problems in a glamorous period setting, then this is precisely what HBO has accomplished--again.... Through characters like Devon, Jamie and Lester, Vinyl has very thoughtfully dotted its i’s and crossed its t’s in terms of diversity, but testosterone is still clearly HBO’s most addictive (and preferred) substance.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Don Kaplan

    This is a gritty, bloody knuckled rock ‘n' roll fairy tale as told by the best in the business. There’s little chance that Vinyl will either burn out or fade away.

    New York Daily News Full Review
  • Robert Bianco

    What follows is a sometimes humorous, sometimes nostalgic, sometimes bumpy ride through the era, with a story that often seems to halt just when it’s picking up momentum. Still, every time the story falters, the characters’ and the show’s obvious love for popular music in all its forms lifts it back up.

    USA Today Full Review
  • Chuck Barney

    Vinyl, after all, is at its best--and most interesting--when it sticks to the music industry with its oddball characters, egos and hedonistic ways.

    San Jose Mercury News/Contra Costa Times Full Review
  • Joshua Alston

    Boardwalk Empire took a more layered view of the Prohibition ’20s, whereas Vinyl’s main takeaway is that everything used to be cooler, sexier, and more fun. That message will resonate for some, and strike others as a sermon about the redemptive power of rock delivered directly to the choir.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Ed Bark

    It’s all very, very ambitious, with hits that keep on coming while storyline misses seem to be almost beside the point. Vinyl is thoroughly rousing at its core, a crazed, dope-filled, sometimes dopey trip that begins in 1973 and has nothing in common with the earlier, comparatively sedate decade brought to you by AMC’s Mad Men.

    Uncle Barky Full Review
  • Amber Dowling

    At times there seems to be too much going on in the pilot, between Richie running away from gun-wielding lunatics, attempting to sign new talent, working to keep his existing roster, finagling a deal to sell his company and balancing his precarious home life. But it’s no greater a flaw than most pilots attempting to set up the scheme of things face, and the action never seems bogged down or tied up in specifics.

    The Wrap Full Review
  • Joanne Ostrow

    The thrill of rock 'n' roll as it took a turn toward modern punk, discovered disco and made way for hip-hop in 1970s Manhattan is captured in a fresh way in Vinyl, a tough-minded series.

    Denver Post Full Review
  • Mitchel Broussard

    It’s all pure formula, down to the spiraling hero, glitzy job, Big Secret central plot device, and angry spouse, but it’s a formula that feels finer tuned than most.

    We Got This Covered Full Review
  • Matt Roush

    The best parts of the occasionally overwrought Vinyl depict the whirlwind of hustling required to keep American Century solvent and relevant, with funky, sometimes funny subplots. [15-28 Feb 2016, p.16]

    TV Guide Magazine Full Review
  • Tim Goodman

    Vinyl works best when it laser-focuses on the nature of the very particular communal passions that fuel the industry, often revealed through Richie, Zak and Skip's characters.... Where the series does sometimes get a little sluggish is in the non-music-focused stories.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Hays Davis

    Head of promotions/payola master Zak Yankovich (Ray Romano), giftedly shady head of sales Skip Fontaine (J.C. MacKenzie), and ill-fated artist Lester Grimes (Ato Essandoh) are among the engaging characters who could ensure that Vinyl lives as much more than a destination for leisure suits, coke noses, and Foghat.

    Under The Radar Full Review
  • Alan Sepinwall

    Through five episodes, there's an awful lot of excess in Vinyl, which perhaps makes sense for a show involving two icons of '70s rock in Jagger and Scorsese. But all of Richie's searching for the next idea, and all of the scenes involving the Nasty Bits or other rising forms of music, suggest a show that really wishes it could strip away all the glam and all the tropes and just do something simple and raw and powerful.

    Hitfix Full Review
  • Robert Rorke

    Vinyl will leave you dancing to the music, but may leave you wondering why you should care.

    New York Post Full Review
  • Todd VanDerWerff

    Vinyl feels like it's still doing its mic checks, but somewhere along the way, it just might burst out into a blistering solo. And it's worth paying attention until it does. Full Review
  • Matthew Gilbert

    Vinyl, the greatly anticipated HBO series about the record industry in 1970s New York, is ambitious, riveting, brilliant, addictive, kaleidoscopic, gonzo, cartoonish, kitschy, obvious, indulgent, awkward, and bloated.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Brian Tallerico

    After five episodes, Vinyl sometimes feels like it’s still just warming up for the songs that will bring the house down, but I’m not leaving this show any time soon. Full Review
  • Brian Lowry

    It’s plenty interesting stuff, including the various creative forces at play in the era, as well as its seamier aspects. Yet even with the benefit of a two-hour launch, the premiere unfolds in a manner that can feel as scattered and undisciplined as the headlining acts--not just in its bouncing chronology, but the extended, dreamlike sequences that seek to convey.

    Variety Full Review
  • Jeff Jensen

    Where Vinyl struggles the most is getting you invested in the characters and caring about their ambitions.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Allison Keene

    It takes time to get going, and even four episodes in, still hasn’t really found its voice. HBO is clearly looking for another hit, but this one needs a little more time in A&R.

    Collider Full Review
  • Daniel D'Addario

    A spin of Vinyl‘s first five episodes reveals a beautifully made, sophisticated-enough antihero drama in the Mad Men or Boardwalk Empire mold, but one hampered by incongruities that keep it from being a true game changer.

    Time Full Review
  • Mike Hale

    It would be nice to report that Vinyl sustains the momentum Mr. Scorsese establishes in the pilot, but through five episodes, it tends to bog down.... But the show quickly begins giving less time to the music and more to duller, formulaic plot lines including a marital crisis, a murder investigation and a female secretary’s attempts to break the hemp ceiling of the recording business. You might want to keep “Vinyl” spinning, though, if only for Bobby Cannavale’s smart, sardonic portrayal of Richie Finestra.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Willa Paskin

    Vinyl is made in the spirit of a great party, rather than a great TV show.... Not so dissimilarly from Boardwalk Empire, it has prestige everything--sets, talent, camera work, visuals--but an ersatz essence. The Scorsese hallmarks are thick as the rails.

    Slate Full Review
  • Mark A. Perigard

    There’s so much [music] here, Vinyl runs the risk of turning into “Treme,” which seemed to be a music show with a touch of plot. Vinyl spins back years with copious flashbacks, and they do Cannavale and the show no favors. No matter the year, no matter how his hair is parted, he looks the same, a middle-aged guy. Some things can’t be finessed.

    Boston Herald Full Review
  • Robert Lloyd

    Given the technical excellence of the production, your reaction will vary on your liking for the kind of people the filmmakers have chosen to focus on.... Nevertheless, after watching something like half the season, they strike me as unbearably tiresome and uninteresting.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Rob Owen

    Vinyl drags in its occasionally predictable, too infrequently surprising premiere and invites viewers down a rough road. It feels authentic; it looks and sounds believable. But the situations and characters in Vinyl are overly familiar in this post-antihero, peak TV era.

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Full Review
  • Ken Tucker

    Scorsese and Winter and a whole host of talented episode writers and directors including Jonathan Tropper (Banshee), S. J. Clarkson, Debora Cahn, and Adam Rapp labor mightily to bend you to the will of Richie Finestra--to see and hear the music the way he does, as full of endless innovation and possibility--but too often, Vinyl traps you in a familiar cycle of sex and drugs and rock & roll.

    Yahoo TV Full Review
  • Spencer Kornhaber

    The show is as expertly shot and acted as its pedigree would suggest, with each episode serving up a few scenes of frightening tension. But the overarching plot of a man trying to rediscover purity in a corrupt world is not a complication of the already over-documented milieu Vinyl exists in. It is exactly the story rock has told about itself time and again, and not a ton is gained in the retelling here.

    The Atlantic Full Review
  • Verne Gay

    Vinyl is a compelling idea in search of a compelling story. There simply isn’t much of one, in fact, and--abhorring the ever-present vacuum--a lot of other elements rush in to fill the void. Scenes are padded, lots of flashbacks are even more flaccid, while actors devour the helpless scenery.

    Newsday Full Review
  • Tom Long

    To be sure, there are some fine performances, notably by Olivia Wilde as Richie’s former Warhol girl wife; Juno Temple as an ambitious gofer who wants to work her way up; and Ray Romano as Richie’s beleaguered right-hand man. But they’re mostly drowned in the confusion as the show veers from drama to farce to mostly poor musical interludes.

    The Detroit News Full Review
  • Emily Nussbaum

    The show improves slightly after the jankily paced pilot, but it never sheds its air of leaden nostalgia.

    The New Yorker Full Review
  • Sonia Saraiya

    Not only does the music get lost in the mix, but despite Cannavale’s excellent performance as Richie, there’s almost nothing to invest in with that character, whom we’re introduced to at literally the least interesting point in his life.

    Salon Full Review
  • Kristi Turnquist

    Overall, Vinyl suffers from an inflated sense of its own importance, and a dreary lack of humor (though the pilot has a funny drive-by diss of England Dan & John Ford Coley.)

    The Oregonian Full Review