Vinyl: Season 1 – Blu-ray Review

Music is a subject that is often a shared topic of discussion amongst people.  Whether it be the discussion of an upcoming concert, or a newly released album; it’s a mutual interest of everyone.  Vinyl: Season 1 takes a look at the behind-the-scenes work that goes into the success that is the career of a musician.

Vinyl: Season 1 is an American period drama taking place in the 1970’s.  Created and produced by some rather large names including Mick Jagger, Martin Scorsese and Rich Cohen, Vinyl stars Bobby Cannavale as Richie Finestra, a record producer.  Throughout the series, we see Richie and his innate ability to hustle his way through a career out of New York City’s diverse diverse music scene.

As someone who has personally followed a variety of music acts, having colleagues who are professional musicians touring the world, it was really nice to see the inner workings of the people who are promoting the careers of these artists.  Most people look at the music industry and see the rock stars, the rappers and other musicians and see this lavish life; but what they fail to see is the blood, sweat and tears that go with the work to create the beautiful images the audience sees at each show.

The Series Itself (2/5):

Vinyl started off with a 2-hour series premiere that was directed by Scorsese.  Having a pretty strong story line to start with, the show had hope in the very beginning.  However, as the season progressed, the show got too bland too fast.  Relying rather heavily on overly empty cameos of rock stars or other musicians, I don’t see that this show is going to last too long.

One extremely surprising role in this series was the inclusion of Ray Romano.  Known for his role in Everybody Loves Raymond and his awkward comedy Welcome To Mooseport, I certainly didn’t expect to see him playing someone in this cutthroat business.  There was one scene that stood out quite a bit and it involved Ray doing cocaine while on a private jet, and all I could think to myself was that “this isn’t the Ray Barone I knew growing up!”

While having Scorsese direct the show’s pilot episode was a treat, I would have loved to see him more involved with the series.  That being said, the very first episode of this series, despite it providing a strong start to the series, felt like it was stuffed with quite a bit of material that really didn’t need to be there.

While this show’s premise is centered around the production aspect, I would have loved to have seen more interaction with the artists.  There was some interaction with some lesser-known artists, with shout-outs to bigger artists like John Lennon.  If they would have played more into these major name and their personalities, this show would have had a fighting chance.

Picture Quality (4/5):

Presented in the beautiful 1080p resolution, the overall image quality of Vinyl was amazing.  Throughout the series, there are several scenes that take place inside a nightclub.  As we all know, most club scenes are often dark and during these scenes, I was able to visually make out what was being shown on my television with no issues. That speaks to the excellent use of lighting and an above average contrast and brightness for this transfer, which is great, as many scenes take place in these dimly lit areas.

Taking place during the ’70s, there is some focus on the funk genre and the shimmering of the wardrobes, stage displays and spotlights really popped. The colors were fantastic, and overall, it was a very typical HBO release. Was it the best picture I have ever seen? No; but still, there is nothing to complain about here.

Audio Quality (5/5):

Sporting a DTS-HD 5.1 audio track, Vinyl: Season 1 was quite the experience.  Being able to hear the music as the artists performed on stage felt like I was in the audience as their sound echoed through my speakers.  As we witness the various events that unfold in the producer’s office, everything is presented very clearly.  Whether it be your typical board meeting, or just going through the stressful times that come with trying to make a career out of promoting musicians; Vinyl really shined through my home theatre system.

As I watched this series, there were several genres of music presented.  We had our funk, our rock and our classical music to name a few; it was absolutely beautiful to listen to, and the soundtrack is a real treat. Music fans will really enjoy this release.

The Packaging (5/5):

Vinyl: Season 1 comes complete with a visually appealing slipcover with its first pressing.  The slipcover that is included with this isn’t your standard Blu-ray slipcover.  It’s made of a thicker cardboard and has some rather impressive artwork on both the front and back.  This artwork makes up for the performance scene that’s laid out on the Blu-ray amaray case.  I’ll be curious to see if they end up changing the artwork for the amaray case if and when they stop making slipcovers for this release.

This release spans across 4 Blu-ray discs to cover the 10 episode season.  Each disc displaying the same artwork across the board, using art to display the fact that this series is about the music industry.

Additionally, we are given an Ultraviolet Redemption Pamphlet that can be used to add this series to your favorite digital distribution library.

Special Features (2/5):

After going through the included bonus content, I felt that I wanted to see more.  Maybe throwing in some interviews with the executive staff or include some of the promotional material for this series and I would have been completely satisfied with the content that was offered.  However, the bonus content that was included with this release is:

  1. Inside The Episodes
  2. Audio Commentary

Technical Specs:


Codec: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Original Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1


English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1


English SDH

Final Thoughts: 

I’m not going to lie, I had a lot of hope for this show.  When it first arrived at my doorstep, I was really excited to dive right in.  With its strong start on its 2-hour pilot episode, what followed only led me down a path of complete disappointment.  Vinyl: Season 1 relied too heavily on the brief cameos of big names and the features of the lesser known artists.  As the show progressed, it felt like the actors were trying too hard and the plot felt as it were forced.  This is all apparent in the fact that one of the prominent writers and creators of the series, Terence Winter, has decided to leave the team, citing creative differences.

It would seem that an issue with timing has resulted in Vinyl not being renewed for a second season.  After the network had announced that Scott Z. Burns would be taking over as the showrunner, Burns never turned in any script work.  It is said that he was still in the planning phase of revitalizing the show; however due to the nonexistence of any new work, it has been decided that the funds that were originally planned for this show will be reallocated for other shows on the HBO network.  After reading through this announcement, I completely understand why this had happened. However, I am a little disappointed because I wanted this show to do really well, and it fell flat.


Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.