Roadies: Your New Favorite TV Show

In every Cameron Crowe film, there’s a character that’s more than a protagonist. There’s a voice and conscience that carries you through the dialogue and action. John Cusack‘s Lloyd Dobler from Say Anything… set the standard with his slacker uncool coolness mixed with punk sensibilities. Campbell Scott didn’t do as well as Steve Dunne in Singlesbut still managed to make a mark with his insecure sensitivity and lovable loser vibe. Orlando Bloom and Bradley Cooper both missed the mark in Elizabethtown and Aloha, respectively, and the films were largely unsatisfying because the voice wasn’t there

In Crowe’s new original series for Showtime, Roadies, I would argue that Imogen Poots (playing Kelly Ann) is the voice. Some will say that it’s Luke Wilson‘s fairly standard Bill, but I would argue that Poots’ character is more interesting and, indeed, one of the stronger female characters Crowe has ever created. Not that his cupboard is bare in that department. I would point to Lili Taylor‘s role in Say Anything… and Susan Sarandon‘s underrated Hollie Baylor from Elizabethtown as evidence that the man can write interesting female characters

Roadies updates Crowe’s love letter to the 70s arena rock, Almost Famous (easily one of Crowe’s best films), with a modern take on the crews that make the rockin’ world go ’round. Kelly Ann is light rigger who wants to leave the game, but she loves music too much. Bill is a rock and roll lifer who is going through a midlife crisis, in denial that he’s got feelings for his married co-worker Shelli (played by Carla Gugino). Everyone else is the rock and roll family tries hard to avoid growing up and committing the most egregious of sins, selling out

One of the more inspired casting decisions comes in casting comedian Ron White as uber rock shaman Phil. SPOILER: Mr. White is notorious for not liking the actor’s schedule, so he doesn’t make it past the pilot. But, in the time he is onscreen, he comes off as a mix of Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, trying to impart his Rock God wisdom to a young, impressionable generation of young roadies, who are aware they missed rock’s best days

Crowe has made his name by creative use of music and Roadies continues this, particularly in a climactic scene where Kelly Ann runs back to her rock destiny to the strains of Pearl Jam’s “Given to Fly” (Crowe directed the band’s documentary Pearl Jam 20 and has known the band’s members for more than a quarter century). After the disaster that was Aloha (the film was undercut before it’s release, thanks to the infamous Sony e-mail hack), this feels a lot more like Crowe going back to his mother’s milk of rock and roll. The life of the roadie is full of drudgery, dull boring routines, and little moments of magic mixed with ordinary, messy life

Take the ride

Showtime has made the premiere episode of Roadies available without a subscription. You can stream it on You Tube here

 

The Best TV Show You’re Not Watching

Showtime currently is the home of fictional teenagers I’d like to slap. Witness the talented Kerris Dorsey of “Ray Donovan”

She’s good, but, she may not hold a candle to Julia Goldani Telles of the woefully unappreciated “The Affair”

If that doesn’t have you double-checking your birth control method…

“The Affair” is the ongoing story of a family that’s been ripped apart by infidelity (surprise). Dominic West (HBO’s “The Wire”) plays Noah Solloway, a struggling middle-aged writer, who chafes under the judgmental eyes of his Upper West Side in-laws. Maura Tierney plays his wife, Helen, who dutifully trudges along, trying to support her husband’s career, while raising the kids, and keeping her parents at bay

The family takes their requisite vacation to Long Island and that’s where Noah gets involved with waitress Alison (played by Ruth Wilson). After a bizarre set of circumstances, Noah is accused of murder

I’ll stop my review right now to express my admiration for Maura Tierney. She’s always been fantastic, but, please get your hands on the wonderful “Scotland, PA” which was directed by her ex-husband Billy Morrissette. It’s a great update of “MacBeth” and features another underrated actor James LeGros in the MacBeth role. Mix in Christopher Walken and an extra trippy Andy Dick and you’ve got a weird, hilarious, crazy film that’s one of the best modern-day Shakespeare takes in a long time

Back to “The Affair”, one of the great decisions the producers made was to cast Wilson in the role of the mistress. She is very attractive, but not insanely young or drop-dead gorgeous, which would have reduced Noah’s middle-aged crisis to an absurd cliche. Their attraction is, at once, carnal and spiritual. As they progress in their relationship, they begin to wonder what the hell they’ve gotten themselves into

Oh, I almost forgot the real selling point for “The Affair” for women of a certain age: Pacey’s in it

“The Affair” has great performances by all the actors and features raw, uncomfortable moments. But. it’s completely relatable to anyone who has lived life a little and seen how people who supposedly love each other can spend so much time and energy tearing each other apart. The show will confuse, sadden, and even anger you

Especially that teenage kid