Friday, February 14, 2014

Amazon Prime – Mozart in the Jungle

Welcome to the finale of our weeklong look at Amazon’s new pilots.  We’ve already gone over The Rebels, The After, Bosch, and Transparent.  Today is Mozart in the Jungle’s time to shine. 

Music has been playing a growing role in the television landscape lately.  Music competition shows are perennially popular while shows like Glee, Nashville and to a lesser extent Smash have tried to incorporate music into the one hour drama format. 

Does Mozart in the Jungle have what it takes to differentiate itself from the field?

First off, Mozart in the Jungle is a half hour comedy.  Secondly it’s about classical music.  Which brings us to the last point, it’s not going to rely on singing so much as acting. 

Motzart in the Jungle also has the distinction of being the Amazon pilot that has the most “names” attached.   The pilot was written by Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman and Alex Timbers and was directed by Paul Weitz.  Furthermore it features Gael Garcia Bernal in an important role. 

The pilot is based on Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs and Classical Music, the memoir of oboist Blair Tindall and follows Lola Kirke’s Hailey as she deals with life in New York City as an oboist.  We see her giving music lessons, playing an off-Broadway gig and playing host to a house party.  It’s just a day in the life for Hailey. 

The other characters in the pilot include Cynthia, the experienced cellist who takes Hailey under her wing, Thomas, the symphony’s outgoing conductor and Rodrigo the rock star new conductor who promises sweeping changes to the symphony. 

Thomas and Rodrigo are naturally in conflict, which seems to be a storyline that the series will follow should it get picked up.  Cynthia is also involved with Thomas, though that doesn’t seem to be the most stable relationship. 

It’s a very intriguing pilot.  It’s been compared to Kitchen Confidential and it’s apt; both shows deal with the inner workings of a culture that most people are completely ignorant to.  Both shows provide fascinating glimpses that truly captivate. 

That said, Mozart in the Jungle is rather unbalanced.  The first half of the episode plays like an ensemble, with characters essentially getting equal amounts of screen time.  But the back half of the episode essentially focuses strictly on Hailey.  Rodrigo shows up, but only to service Hailey’s storyline.  Thomas and Cynthia completely disappear. 

Still Mozart in the Jungle is an enticing peek at what could be a strong series.  Hailey is genuinely an interesting and likable character (Lola Kirke is certainly one to watch) and the setting is unique.  Amazon could do much worse than to pick this show up. 

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