Coming and going on the small screen

Violence, ‘Vinyl’ and a very good cast on ‘Roadies'.

‘Roadies’ (photo credit: PR)
(photo credit: PR)
The sixth season of Game of Thrones just concluded with a finale filled with twists that were fascinating if you enjoy the show. I’ve been trying, but I still don’t get the appeal of the massively successful program, so popular it is broadcast live here at 4 a.m. on YES Oh on Mondays.
I watch it periodically and try to understand its appeal. When I tuned in recently with my teenage son, we were both impressed by the battle sequence in Episode 9, which reminded me of the movie 300 but with less revealing costumes. However, we were totally turned off when, after the battled ended, the evil Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) had his face eaten off by his own hounds. Not our idea of fun, but I realize we are in the minority here.
Game of Thrones fans will now have to wait months to find out the outcome of all the plot twists I won’t spoil for you here, but while you are waiting, you can check out the HBO store. In addition to the usual T-shirts and coffee mugs, you can buy Game of Thrones cookie cutters ($19.99), featuring the symbols of all the houses, or Stark and Lannister cufflinks ($35). Enjoy!
While HBO has had a huge hit with Game of Thrones, the pioneering cable network hasn’t been so lucky with most of its other recent shows. It just announced that it has canceled the second season of the much-heralded Vinyl, the show developed by Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger, about the record business in the 1970s.
The first episode, directed by Scorsese, promised a season of cynical, profane fun a la The Sopranos, but the show failed to captivate. It had wonderful actors, among them Bobby Cannavale and Ray Romano, an interesting milieu and great period detail and music. But the hero, who was always full of himself, didn’t have the compelling mixture of depression, insecurity and aggressiveness that made Tony Soprano unforgettable. The original music by the fictional characters was weak and never came close to the appeal of the classic hits on the soundtrack.
Another well-known movie director who loves putting music front and center in his movies, Cameron Crowe, is trying his luck with a television series, Roadies, the first episode of which will premiere on HOT Plus on July 6 at 10 p.m. and will be available on HOT VOD.
Crowe, who started his career as a music critic for Rolling Stone, detailed that experience in Almost Famous, one of the best rock music movies ever. Crowe was married for many years to Nancy Wilson of the band Heart, and he knows the music business inside and out. Roadies looks at the backstage crew that runs a band’s tour. It features a great cast, which includes Luke Wilson (The Royal Tenenbaums) as Bill, the likeable laid-back head of the crew, and Carla Gugino (Entourage, Californication and the movie San Andreas) as Shelli, his more levelheaded colleague. Kelly Ann (Imogen Poots) is a young woman about to leave the tour for film school, while Donna (Keisha Castle-Hughes, who starred in Whale Rider) is a lesbian planning to have a baby with her wife. Rafe Spall (Shaun of the Dead) plays a British bean counter who is brought in to trim costs.
There are a lot of gags and songs which are fun, but the premise is problematic: How much do we really care if a rock show in an arena goes smoothly? Still, I will be tuning back in to the second episode to see where it goes.
Ray Donovan, the darkest show on TV after Game of Thrones, has just returned for its fourth season. It is available on YES VOD and airs on YES Oh on Mondays at 10 p.m. Liev Schreiber is back as the Hollywood fixer to the rich and ruthless, an abused child from a troubled Irish-Catholic family. Guest stars this season include Lisa Bonet (The Cosby Show).