HBO has already renewed its new drama series Vinyl after only one episode. The highly anticipated “1970s-set rock ‘n roll series” created by Martin Scorsese, Mick Jagger, and Boardwalk Empire showrunner Terence Winter finally debuted this past Sunday with a Scorsese-directed two-hour premiere, but when the ratings numbers came in, the news was not great. The episode drew just 764,000 viewers, which was lower than the premires for HBO’s other new drama series True Detective (2.33 million), The Newsroom (2.14 million), and most surprisingly The Leftovers (1.77 million). Moreover, the critical response was somewhat lukewarm (read Allison’s review here), though many noted that the premiere showed promise for subsequent episodes.
Regardless, HBO was pretty much always going to renew Vinyl. The network is in major drought when it comes to original dramas. Game of Thrones, obviously, is a huge juggernaut, but The Newsroom wrapped up its final season last year, Boardwalk Empire is done, and the network’s highly anticipated David Fincher series Utopia fell apart when they were unable to come to an agreement on budget. In fact, excluding Vinyl, the network has only three original drama series: Game of Thrones, The Leftovers, and True Detective.
But in actuality, the network really only has one original drama series. The Leftovers is in the writings stages for its final season, so they can’t count on that as a seasonal occurrence, and True Detective is in a state of uncertainty given the harsh critical reaction to Season 2. The network wants more of True Detective, but the onus is on showrunner Nic Pizzolatto to come up with an idea for Season 3 and/or bring in another collaborator. There is the sci-fi series Westworld on the horizon, but that’s been encountering problems of its own, shutting down production recently to creatively retool some of the episodes. HBO still plans on debuting Westworld in 2016, but between that, True Detective, and losing the Fincher series, their future is somewhat dire in the original drama department. David Simon‘s 70s porn industry drama The Deuce can’t come soon enough.
So, as you see, there was really no choice but to renew Vinyl. Having only seen the first episode, the series isn’t bad per se, but for a two-hour story directed by Martin Scorsese, the premiere was shockingly dull. The only scenes that really seemed to pop were those set in the offices of the record company, so hopefully the storytelling can improve and hone in on the aspects that work as the season progresses. It was nice to see Scorsese bring in cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto to shoot the pilot, but ultimately I found the episode to be a pretty major disappointment.
What about you, folks? Did you watch Vinyl? Are you looking forward to the rest of the season, and now Season 2? Sound off in the comments below, and click here for our complete list of which shows have been renewed and cancelled.