[For Vinyl “Whispered Secrets” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

HBO Summary:
Whispered Secrets. Richie is embarrassed at a record producer’s banquet; a junior A&R rep courts Alice Cooper.

“Vinyl” continues to jump around in time and storyline with such disruptive bravado we can only assume it’s on purpose. This is seventies rock n’ roll, after all and told from a coke-fueled point of view. Were you expecting “Downton Abbey” when you heard Jagger and Scorsese were the team behind this show? We at Fetchland recommend you stop yer bitchin’ and just enjoy the roller coaster ride. There’s so much to love; the music, the costumes, the Cannavale, and the guest star turns are so much fun. For instance, this episode, “Whispered Secrets” brings the unfettered fun of seventies Alice Cooper back to life and it’s just as cool and wild as that sounds.

The episode opens on a banquet celebrating the lifetime achievement of Maury Gold. Richie kisses cheeks and shakes hands waltzing from table to table. The MC calls out everybody in the place including Richie and mocks how he almost sold American Century to Polygram but then pulled out and “saved them from themselves” slamming Richie’s business as well as his decision to keep it. Then Devon gets pissy because this is the first time she’s hearing that Richie didn’t sell the company and the sale was allegedly going to make their suburban life better. That’s what Richie kept telling her anyway. So, to spite him, and the deal they have not to drink or do drugs, she downs a glass of wine right in his face. Thing is Richie’s been coked out of his mind for days now and couldn’t care less. He goes to see Maury in the bathroom and tells him about the visit from the detective.

Richie wants to release a compilation album of all Lester’s old Blues recordings. There’s no surprise when Lester turns down Richie’s proposition but his reason is a shocker. Turns out Lester’s voice got destroyed over the years and he blames Richie. The next time we see Lester he’s emptying ashtrays next to a guy “Clive” who’s playing records with a funky sound. The old farts sitting nearby aren’t into it but Lester appreciates that Clive’s trying a new sound. We know that Disco, Punk and Funk were all invented within six months of each other in 1973 New York City, so this may just be the first bit of funk unfolding and Lester’s right there for it. He may have lost his voice but that ear for great sound remains intact. Later we see Lester at home playing guitar on the couch. His voice is whispery and meek, thus we hear for ourselves how Lester’s lost his gorgeous timbre.

Next we see Devon in a broken down empty old barn with an event planning group. They’re hosting a dinner benefit for the dance troupe from Russia that Devon promised to sponsor. It’s a project she’s used to try to keep her artistic side alive out here in the boondocks. Next there’s a flashback to Devon and Richie’s early days when they’re smooching near a Warhol silk screen of Devon and discussing how she can still try to have an artistic life even in Greenwich and with kids. Richie tells her to do the dance troupe thing and poo poos the idea of her joining hi at American Century. Then we’re back to the seventies and Devon’s asking Richie for $10K check to pay for the benefit but of course, belt-tightening Richie instead offers to have a band play at the barn. Desperate Devon then visits Warhol and while he takes another screen test of her she asks if he’ll sign the silkscreen for her. Andy asks her if she wants him to sign it so she can sell it. Devon explains then about the dance company and how she’s trying to build a space for them in the barn near where she lives. It brings her to tears. Warhol says he’s happy to sign it for her so they’ll buy it at the benefit and even offers to sign her dress, “They’ll buy that too” and all the while he’s got her gorgeous face on camera in close up. But when she brings the painting to the other benefit planners they flippantly say they need her to get another one, as if acquiring signed Warhol’s is just so easy breezy in 1973.

Back at the office Richie drinks vodka with a shaky hand and snorts lines to get his chill/thrill on. Then he cuts out the dead wood in their client list so they can make room for new exciting acts. They trim 70% of their roster and decide to put out a Christmas album because everybody buys them and it’s like printing money. Speaking of signing new acts, Alice Cooper’s at a recording studio when Clark, one of the young A&R guys, stops him to chat and tells Alice they’d love to have him at American Century. He can go solo and leave his band in the dust, Clark suggests. Clark and Cooper party together for a few bleary-eyed days while Alice gets Clark blind drunk until he’s wearing Alice’s boa constrictor, Eva Marie Snake, as the world’s scariest and tightest scarf while watching Alice golf as the sun rises. But in their last scene together onstage Alice Cooper stops rehearsal to mock Clark and put him in the guillotine. It turns out that Richie screwed Alice and his band in the past, leaving them stranded and waiting for a solid day. Thus, this was all just a scheme to terrify Clark, play out their grudge against Richie, and have a little fun in the meantime. So, no, Clark’s not going to sign Alice Cooper for American Century.

The Nasty Bitz rehearse in the restaurant basement again and they’ve taken Julian’s shitty advice to play The Kinks. Julian continues to debase Jamie when she tells the truth – that they sound like crap. Then it gets even worse for her when they’re all discovered and kicked out. Apparently, they were practicing in the place Jamie found and the woman who catches them calls the police. She describes them as “hoodlums with guns” and Jamie as a “blonde prostitute” which makes us think maybe this woman (played by the still stunning Lena Olin) is Jamie’s mother. Next we see The Nasty Bitz still playing The Kinks song but now for an audience while Richie watches and hates it. He gets mad and Jamie takes the blame even though it’s stupid, high Julian’s fault. Then Jamie instigates the band, screaming at them and throwing a beer bottle at their amp to get them to play their other stuff, the stuff Richie liked. So, they do and it’s mad crazy good. Everybody loves them. Richie tells Julian to buy the Bitz a round of beers and sign them.

Then Richie stuffs more coke in his face and mafia-affiliated ghosts of his past visit him at the office. Maury Gold with Galasso, the guy the homicide detective was asking after in the last episode, and Joe Corso. Gold and Galasso want to know what transpired with the detective and ensure Richie’s not a snitch even though it seems like he actually doesn’t know anything anyway. Richie convinces them and they leave after offering him a “loan” to help him with his current business transition. “Maury tells me you’re going through some tough times,” Galasso says but Richie insists that everything’s great. Joe Corso’s visit is a lot less smooth and subtle. He introduces Richie to a singer (that he’s fucking) and reminds Richie of their unique shared history, implying that Richie has to sign her or Joe’ll blackmail him.

Then, that same day, some kids discover Buck’s bludgeoned, bloated body in the projects wrapped in a flowery blanket. Richie goes home that night to find the Warhol gone from his bedroom wall. He sighs and pours some night-time cocaine into his drink, like ya do at the end of a long day. Then Corso calls Richie to notify him that the cops found Buck’s body. After he hangs up Richie listens to the tape Corso gave him and, unsurprisingly, we hear a weak and boring lady’s voice singing “Danny’s Song” not nearly as well as Anne Murray, who luckily takes it over for the end credits.

“Whispered Secrets” divulges a few secrets but it’s more about the internal grind that grudges bear upon us, sorta like secrets – but with more guts and less guilt. There’s the deeply embedded grudge between Lester and Richie, though in this case weighed down on Richie’s side by substantial guilt. Then Jamie’s got a weird, probably Mommy-related, secret situation in a restaurant basement. Devon’s secret sacrificial sale of her painting for the dance troupe feels like an “I’ll show you,” to Richie – a classic grudge move. While Julian’s willingness to blame Jamie for his screw up with The Nasty Bitz is the only true secret but it will cost him for certain down the line. Richie’s the one with the most secrets and they’re whoppers; Joe Corso and Maury Gold made certain to remind him of that.

–Katherine Recap

[For The People v. OJ Simpson “100 Percent Not Guilty” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

FX Summary:
100 Percent Not Guilty. The entrance of Johnnie Cochran adds an interesting energy to the case.

“100 percent Not Guilty” opens in a dance club where OJ is getting down with champagne, oysters, shots and doing coke off the chest of a beauty in a tiny red dress. Then we see that it was all in his frustrated head and back in the present OJ sits in his cell, pissed off. This lifestyle comes up again later in the episode when Lee Resnick describes exactly this sort of night life as shared by OJ, Nicole and their alleged cocaine-fueled conquests for her tell-all book about Nicole.

At the first Dream Team meeting when Cochran finally joins them Shapiro opens with the question “Who thinks OJ did it?” but nobody wants to play that game so then he says, “me neither”. Then they discuss the benefit of a downtown jury where there will certainly be black men and Shapiro points out that Cochran knows the language of “these people,” thus irritating Johnnie to the core. One thing they all agree about is their strategy to fight each and every item brought up as if the whole case depends on each and every tiny point of contention.

We see this in action right away at the preliminary hearing when Cochran vehemently objects to Marcia Clark’s request for hair samples, escalating it to the point that they end up requesting a special hearing just for hair sample discussion. Cochran then goes to visit OJ in prison and gives crankypants a pep talk. Johnnie’s a fantastic storyteller and makes OJ smile even with his red-rimmed eyes, clogged toilet, nasty prison food, and wrinkled brow. Johnnie reminds OJ that he’s an inspiration to many people, including Cochran.

Next we see Judge Ito telling his wife, a police officer, that he got assigned to the Simpson case. He’s excited and immediately has her fill out “the usual spousal conflict form”. She scans the list and pauses significantly over Mark Fuhrman’s name before signing off on it. Then we see Ito taking OJ’s plea in court, he makes that famous statement saying, I’m absolutely “100 Percent Not Guilty,” after which some music plays to indicate that the charade within a carnival within a TV show is about to begin.

F. Lee Bailey and Shapiro have dinner and Bailey asks who he should send his billable hours to but Shapiro tells him he’s going to be working pro bono on this one. It’ll be worth it because it’s such a high profile case, Shapiro promises. Bailey balks at this and points out that he was the first lawyer Shapiro called. One can’t really blame Bailey for this, he’s already a household name from the Sam Shepherd and Patty Hearst cases, thus likely doing it for the money and not so much additional fame at this point. What Shapiro is too bloated in the head to realize is that he needs Bailey as his ally on the dream team and alienating his buddy like this is a stupid move.

Next Faye Resnick feeds tawdry stories about coke binges and anonymous Brentwood BJs to the ghost writers for her trashy book about Nicole. She talks about how the reason behind Nicole and OJ’s fights was that they were always breaking up and reconciling but then one of them would invariably sleep around and screw it up. Resnick said all sorts of horrifying things with seemingly no filter and then published the book in a frenzy so fast that Judge Ito brought the lawyers into his back office to discuss it before the jury has even been selected. The prosecution and defense teams both read the book, along with the rest of the United States. Every character has their own individual shocked reaction and then Shapiro points out the lesbian sex page for the convenience of “The Dream Team” as they sit around a table reading it in tandem.

Meanwhile at the DA’s office the Goldman family comes in to talk to Marcia. Ron Goldman’s father is justifiably angry that nobody seems to care about his son’s death or if they do it’s seemingly only to tarnish his name. Ron was truly a good person and not just the hottie people see in his photos. He volunteered with sick kids and never drank or did drugs but all the press talks about is his modeling and tanning salon. Mr. Goldman softly relays how many times Ron was stabbed, even after he was dead and it’s heartbreaking to imagine losing your child this way, to a monster. Marcia’s moved and takes his hand then promises, “We’re going to get him,” and Mr. Goldman says, “You better” which just kills us even more because we know this promise gets broken too.

After that Marcia meets with Gil and Bill who give her the bad news that they can’t go for the death penalty. Nobody in America wants to execute OJ, they explain. We can’t even get Charles Manson executed, for God’s sake! Then they tell her to go see the focus group guy. He’s a real pro and offered to do them for free on this case. In the first focus group Marcia and Bill see all the black people raise their hands to indicate that they think OJ is innocent and all the white people think he’s guilty. Then the focus group watches a courtroom tape of the lawyers in action and subsequently describe Marcia as a bitch, strident, a know-it-all, and shifty. Uh oh. After the focus groups Marcia gets advice to soften her hairdo, wear skirts and maybe try smiling. Black women especially don’t like her. She’s beside herself and, unfortunately, doesn’t really believe it. Marcia keeps insisting that black women love her because she’s helped so many with battered wife cases in the past. What she doesn’t realize is that previous truths no longer apply with this case. It’s a different world with OJ.

Meanwhile the defense runs focus groups of their own and are surprised to learn that black women love OJ but call Nicole a “gold digger,” welcome news for their side though. Kardashian can’t see past the fact that he’s upset by it and says, “Nicole wasn’t at all like that. She really loved him,” etc. It’s a challenge sometimes to remember that technically Kardashian was also on the Dream Team because he acts more like their dufus waterboy half the time.

Marcia meets with Darden then and tells him they have to drop the Cowlings case after all because OJ is taking all the attention of the DA office. Then they share a drink and chat about jury selection. He asks her how Johnnie scored in the focus groups and she tells him a ten and how poorly she did – a four. It doesn’t bode well and she asks Darden what it is that’s so special about Cochran. He says not to underestimate Johnnie because he’s the real deal.

Jury selection begins and “The Dream Team” leaves day one’s courtroom deciding to do a press conference about the jury already leaning too white and Shapiro insists he be the one to speak to the press because he’s the team leader. But after Shapiro’s PR speech falls flat, the press follows Johnnie to his shoe shine and Cochran gives them the quotes they really want. This leads to a front page headline about racism already arising in the courtroom. Then Gil advises Marcia and Bill they need a third lawyer at their table and it needs to be somebody “good for optics” AKA black. Marcia then suggests they add Darden to their team. She’s not making these smart choices in the courtroom, though. Back at jury selection the dream team adds more black women and Marcia’s a bit too open-minded about it. Instead of taking the focus group information into account and challenging the jury makeup which is heavily stacked with black women and men, Marcia holds out on principle against Bill. Should it matter? No. But it does matter. All Bill asks for is one white guy because hey, “We live in Los Angeles too,” and he’s got a point.

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. Sometimes the word of the people outweighs even principle… like in a courtroom where the jury decides.

Next thing we know Johnnie gives OJ the good news that his neighbor’s maid can give testimony that messes up the prosecution’s timeline. This gives the defense team hope. Then Shapiro waltzes in and advises OJ to plead manslaughter. He should say he went to the house to slash Nicole’s tires and things escalated to killing her and then subsequently “the Ron fella” out of jealousy. This horrifies the rest of the room but Shapiro goes home oblivious. His wife begs him to drop the case but he can’t drop it, he explains. Shapiro knows everybody in their whitewashed world thinks OJ is guilty. That’s the world he lives in too and clearly it’s where he’s comfortable. But the rest of “The Dream Team” is at least playing along with the “100 Percent Not Guilty” plea and he needs to get on board because it’s his job.

The Dream team and OJ then convalesce while Shapiro takes a vacation to Hawaii. They even go to his office and remove all of his OJ files and put them in Cochran’s office. Shapiro is pissed to come back and find this out, especially when The Daily News splashes it across their front page. He confronts them when he gets back, rushing into Cochran’s office. The Dream Team were waiting for him and have OJ on conference call ready to talk it out. At first OJ tries to tell Shapiro with football metaphors. But then F. Lee Bailey gives Shapiro the bad news point blank – looks like Bailey will be billing hours after all on this case. When the rest of The Dream Team concurs with Bailey, it’s officially decided to make Cochran leader and Shapiro has no choice but to accept. Truth is, this frees him from the very problem his wife talked about. Now defending OJ isn’t all on his shoulders anymore. But this is a man who hates to lose any ground. So, he pouts anyway. In the final scene The Dream Team walks into court and are taken aback by Darden’s presence on the prosecution team. OJ asks Cochran, “When did they get a black guy?” and Marcia smiles at them. She’s finally got one small victory for her side.

–Katherine Recap

[For Better Call Saul “Cobbler” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

AMC Summary:
Cobbler. Mike brokers a deal in order to keep a potentially messy situation intact.

“Cobbler” is all about human connection. So, it’s a funny irony that it begins with the most isolated character imaginable, Jimmy’s brother, Chuck. He’s playing piano by metronome. When Chuck makes a mistake he whacks his face with a clenched fist, then tries again. It suddenly comes together that Hey, maybe Chuck isn’t a particularly happy person and that his fake allergy to electromagnetic stuff isn’t even his biggest problem. Chuck’s real issue seems to lie in his contempt for Jimmy and (apparently) himself. This all becomes even more apparent when Howard from the office comes to the door with groceries, newspapers, and ice for Chuck. He says they miss Chuck at work and he replies that he’s thinking of coming into the office soon. Chuck asks after Jimmy then and Howard tells him he’s working at Davis & Main. This surprises Chuck, who has no appreciation for Jimmy’s abilities. Howard says Kim pushed for it and he “didn’t stand in the way” a few times just to make sure Chuck hears it. “Partner track?” Chuck asks and Howard says yes it seems so. Chuck semi pretends to be happy for Jimmy but it’s evident he hates this whole conversation. Afterward Howard leaves, Chuck sits back down at the piano but doesn’t play. Instead he just stares at the still ticking metronome. Perhaps he’s wondering what the hell is wrong with me that I can’t be happy for my brother?… but probably not.

Next we see Kim in an empty conference room. She changes the seating arrangements so she sits next to Jimmy in their meeting, then plays footsie with him throughout. After the meeting the pair smoke in the parking lot and flirt/talk about how he should buy a place halfway between there (Santa Fe) and Albuquerque, where Davis & Main is. Then Jimmy says he has to go pick up his new company car. Kim admits she’s totally jealous but gives him a congrats gift anyway, a bright yellow mug that says “World’s 2nd Best Lawyer” and he thanks her. Then Jimmy asks if he’ll see her tonight and they kiss. It’s hard not to notice the yellow of the mug matches his old beat up lemon of a car as it’s carted off to the junkyard. The yellow also matches the blouse of the nail salon owner. She owns the place where Jimmy had his office at the back behind the beaded curtain. All things bright yellow are emblems of Jimmy’s past. He tries to fit the mug into his new company car but it doesn’t fit the holder, “Must be metric,” Jimmy mumbles and tosses it to the floor. The symbolism of Kim possibly being tossed away along with his “past life stuff” looms in this moment. It’s sad to imagine them parting because she’s a case of someone who’s definitely happy for Jimmy, unlike his brother. Kim wants what’s best for him. Question is, does Jimmy?

Speaking of bright yellow symbolic objects, the next scene begins with Pryce driving into Mike’s parking garage in his bright yellow Hummer. Mike asks what he’s doing at the station and Pryce explains he wants his baseball cards and to talk to the police as a crime victim. Mike explains that because Pryce is a criminal it’s not a good idea for him to willingly talk to the police. Mike explains that the police likely know he’s a drug dealer and are planning to nail him with a “fishing trip” today. Fishing trip means questions that lull Pryce into divulging more than he should. Pryce stubbornly refuses saying that he must have his cards back, they mean everything to him and once belonged to his Dad, etc. Then Mike sighs his deep and penetrating Mike sigh, “I’ll find your cards,” he says. Pryce just has to pay Mike and he’ll get the cards back. It’ll cost but not as much as that trip into the police station would have – that would have taken Pryce’s freedom at the very least.

Next we see Jimmy at Davis & Main where he hears Clifford Main playing guitar and then talks to him about something he found in the initial Sandpiper agreements. It involved an optional plan that was in the residents’ contracts and turns out to seem mandatory. Jimmy often has these insights into evidence and it’s a defining characteristic of a great lawyer, thus we see the seeds of Jimmy’s future success.

Meanhwile Mike is at a body shop where Cheech or Chong runs the front counter. Nacho works as the interpreter while Mike pretends he wants to change his car interior to alligator leather. Then we find out that Cheech (or Chong) is Nacho’s father. He leaves Nacho alone with Mike and then Nacho’s like How’d you find me? You threatening my family? etc. Mike explains that they’re in a heap of trouble because of idiot Pryce and his baseball cards. He tells Nacho to give him the baseball cards along with $10K so that Nacho nets $60K and he won’t tell Tuco (the gang leader) about Nacho’s little side business. It’s a simple enough blackmail with the unspoken sale of the horrendous yellow Hummer included as a silent joke. Then in the next scene with Nacho we see Pryce hand over the keys to his yellow hummer to him in exchange for the baseball cards. Mike seals the deal taking the envelope of $10K from Nacho. It seems like a clean break until Pryce’s cell rings and he tells Mike it’s “the police again”.

The next scene returns to Chuck as he dons an aluminum foil-lined suit jacket and then enters a conference room where Jimmy’s talking about Sandpiper. Jimmy falters a bit at first at the sight of Chuck but then Kim puts her hand on his knee and he’s strong again. Chuck gets douchey with Jimmy in the hall after but Jimmy’s cell rings to divert his attention. Turns out it’s Mike asking if Jimmy’s still “morally flexible” and then we see the two story lines connect. Jimmy goes to the station and represents Pryce as he sits down with the police, who do indeed pretend to care about his stolen baseball cards at first. Pryce explains that he hired a private detective and found the cards on his own so they can go back to doing their important police work and forget about his signed Mickey Mantle.

Pryce leaves the room for a bit and Jimmy confronts them saying they’ve really got nothing on Pryce just because they found his little secret stash hideaway. Jimmy tells them the hiding spot housed “art videos” AKA fetish porn but not porn really because there was no sex. The cops ask about what was on the videos and Jimmy says Pryce doing “Squat Cobbler” which is a fetish where men sit in pie and squish it around with their buttocks while in costume, though technically Pryce does “crybaby squats” because he cries while he does it. Yes, the world is a rich tapestry, Jimmy explains and after he leaves the befuddled cops he makes Pryce create a real video of “Squat Cobbler” to give to the police for evidence. Unfortunately, that happens off camera.

In the next scene Jimmy and Kim eat pie in bed and laugh about his story. When Jimmy tells her about the video she stops laughing. Kim points out that it amounts to fabricating evidence that exonerated his client and therefore could jeopardize his job at Davis & Main. It was just a favor for a friend, a pro bono case, and not even about work really, he explains. But she pushes it and wants to know what the point is. He’s playing with fire taking chances like this with his career. Then Kim says she can’t hear about this kind of thing again and he says she won’t. Thus a wall goes up between Kim and Jimmy even as they continue to enjoy the pie that sits shared on their laps. The very mischievous element to Jimmy’s personality that brought them closer in the last episode now creates a barrier. Why is connecting with people so hard on this show? That’s the one question where maybe Chuck is the best character to answer.

–Katherine Recap

[For Vinyl “Yesterday Once More” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

HBO Summary:
Yesterday Once More. Richie delivers a bombshell that shocks prospective buyers and his partners.

Essentially “Yesterday Once More” boils down to reinvention. Every major character needs it, seeks it, and desperately drives the story forward in this pursuit. Richie needs to reinvent his company. Devon wants to invigorate her boring life. Zak desperately desires a home-life and wife makeover. Jamie seeks a career boost. Julian tries to reinvent the Nasty Bits and in the last scene it looks like even Lester Grimes may finally get his chance. It’s all a frenzy and happens fast but all of it runs along that same theme of reinvention and what better place to look for inspiration than the past? That’s the only place Devon looks, with a little help from The Carpenters and their song “Yesterday Once More”.

The episode opens as Richie teaches himself to kickbox with the help of cocaine and a karate flick. Meanwhile back at the office the Germans and his partners await his arrival so they can finally sign off on the company sale. Zak takes valium to get through this next challenging bit of life and then wasted, bloody-browed Richie finally shows up at the office and makes a declaration. They’re not selling the company after all. He’s had a rock n’ roll epiphany. His skills have transcended to a spiritual level. The other partners mumble grumble next to this newly minted guru at their helm. Thing is… they really don’t want to sell because of the money. Their minds are on mortgages and kids going to college so they explain but Richie has dreams, dammit. He uses his recently acquired kickboxing skills, gives them each a taste of his fiercest karate choppin’ and swiftly breaks Zak’s nose. Then Richie calls the Germans “Nazi pricks” and tells them the deal’s off.

Meanwhile Devon has that faraway look in her eye again and she didn’t even do any drugs. All it took was The Carpenters on the radio to take Devon to la la land. She remembers Andy Warhol’s Factory and all the good times she had there. Devon flashes back to the night she met Richie at a Velvet Underground show. They were both with other people but the attraction was so palpable that when Devon left the table to go “to the ladies” Richie knew to follow so they could indulge in ferocious bathroom sink fucking. But that was long ago and today Devon’s in the bathroom at Friendlys Family Restaurant staring in the mirror and listening to The Carpenters song,”Yesterday Once More” – thus the episode title. Devon’s so lost in the song that she accidentally forgets her kids, still sitting in the booth at Friendlys. She drives away in the station wagon without them. It’s only when Devon passes a “children playing” sign during her drive that she remembers the kids back at Friendlys. So, Richie’s not the only one who’s losing sight of his commitments while tangled in a fantasy. Seems to be a family trait. Only difference is that Devon’s horrified with herself when she realizes how lost she got. Richie’s too busy stuffing blow up his nose and living the dream to care.

Back at the office Richie fires all of A&R and tells them if they find a great new artist within two weeks they can earn their jobs back. It’s because they turned down the deal with the Germans and are back to being a dream factory. So get out there and “find bands that make you want to dance or fuck or kick somebody’s ass,” easy peasy, guys. After this Richie tells Jamie, who wears a nearly-to-the-navel-deep V neck shirt, that her job is OK, unlike the others. She asks him what he thought of the Nasty Bits and he says he thinks there’s something there, some balls in their sound. After Jamie offers coaxing, blow jobs, and a new stash of coke for his collection Richie says she can work with Julie (Julian the head A&R guy) and get the band ready. Julie and Jamie then watch the Nasty Bits rehearse and he hates them. Julie’s got some Nasty Bit reinventing to do. He sends Jamie out for coffee and berates her in front of the band.

Speaking of berating, next we see broken-nosed Zak with his wife prepping for his daughter’s bat mitzvah. With four hundred people invited and a calculator whirring through costs in higher and higher escalations, it turns out Zak’s shelling out more for this event then he paid for his first house. At home that night he endures humiliations from the wife about paying for his broken nose and goes out to the garage to consider taking the whole bottle of valium as an escape from the pain. But then Zak tosses them aside. Instead he crashes up the back of his car with a wrench so he can backup the story he told her about getting a broken nose from a rear-end collision. So, clearly Zak’s afraid of his wife. He protects his job with Richie rather than venting to her about what’s really going on at work. Zak can’t vent to her because if his wife knew the money from the sale is kaput now she’d be even more upset. It’s his wife who insisted on the “premium package” for the bat mitzvah, after all. Zak’s humiliated all around. But hey, at least he got to take his feelings out on the back of his car. He’s a fighter after all.

Devon confronts Richie about the fact that he’s doing drugs and drinking again. Right after this the homicide detective that haunted Richie in episode one shows up to talk to him about a murder. Interestingly, it isn’t the murder from the night before but another very different one involving Maury Gold, the guy Richie sold out Lester to years ago. Gold apparently has mob ties and thus, may be implicated in a murder. The cop quickly sees that Richie’s not involved in this investigation and leaves. So, then Richie falls apart in Devon’s lap while she’s transported to more memories of their first days together again. In these particular glorious flashbacks Andy Warhol (played by John Cameron Mitchell) finally comes to the Vinyl party when Devon remembers how Andy met Richie for the first time. It’s evident that Devon was a Factory Girl and one of Andy’s favorites. In her recollection Richie encourages Devon to do a Warhol screen test, something Andy’s been dying for but Devon wouldn’t even consider until Richie came along. Devon hates it because she’s “just sitting there” but then sees Richie remove his sunglasses to watch her. This transports her into a loving place and thus her gorgeous eyes return to the camera and eat the lens with Devon’s in-love intensity. Then back in the present day she wants sex with Richie and starts kissing him. But he’s “tired” which is code for his coke-addled saggy dick because there’s no way in hell he’s actually tired. Of course not. How could someone who’s been non-stop snorting coke all day be tired? They can’t but they also can’t get it up – a known side effect of cocaine. So, Devon falls asleep and then wide-awake-Richie sneaks out. He goes back to where he saw Lester in the “Pilot” episode and knocks on Lester’s door. “We gotta talk,” Richie says and Lester lets him inside.

Richie and Devon long for their past selves in “Yesterday Once More” but not necessary their true selves. In fact, it seems possible these ideas they have about how they were may not even be real. Richie was a dreamer with a passion for music, yes. And Devon was going places with her acting and fancypants connections but these things don’t last forever. Somewhere along the way they took a few turns, including an agreement to stay away from drugs and alcohol. The duo seem to believe they can reinvent who they are – do it better. Richie appears to have a major lead on her with this endeavor but Devon has Warhol… and reinventing is what he does best. Mainly we want to see what’s going to happen with Lester. Will Richie redeem himself and help make Lester a star as a Blues musician? We hope this reinvented Richie can make it so.

–Katherine Recap

Shivan Reef

Shivan Reef is a “tri-land”! (… in U/R Eldrazi)

MichaelJ and BDM return to the corner of Waverly and Gay (you know here) to bring you a post-Pro Tour episode of Top 8 Magic!

Mike is [still] a super big fan of colorless Eldrazi in Modern, but Brian brings up the matchup-riding strength of the tournament-winning U/R version of Modern Eldrazi.

U/R Eldrazi by Jiachen Tao

4 Eldrazi Mimic
4 Endless One
4 Reality Smasher
4 Thought-Knot Seer

3 Dismember

4 Drowner of Hope
4 Eldrazi Skyspawner
2 Ruination Guide

3 Eldrazi Obligator
4 Vile Aggregate

3 Cavern of Souls
4 Eldrazi Temple
4 Eye of Ugin
1 Gemstone Caverns
2 Island
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Shivan Reef
2 Steam Vents

sideboard:
1 Spellskite
2 Chalice of the Void
1 Ratchet Bomb
2 Relic of Progenitus
3 Hurkyl’s Recall
3 Stubborn Denial
2 Gut Shot
1 Tomb of the Spirit Dragon

While cards like Eldrazi Temple and Eye of Ugin (especially when combined with Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth) are getting all the press for Modern Eldrazi mana bases, Brian points out Shivan Reef is a heck of a land in this deck, too. In U/R Eldrazi specifically Shivan Reef can get you the red you need for Eldrazi Obligator, the blue you need for Eldrazi Skyspawner (who saw that coming as a Constructed Staple?!?!) and the colorless you need for Thought-Knot Seer!

Magic talk in this podcast covers anti-Eldrazi ideas for Modern, sideboard utilization, and a walk down memory lane to some of the best decks of Pro Tours and World Championships past.

… And then there is also basketball and tv talk (of course).

What’s going on on Scandal? Who is a psychopath, and who is a mere sociopath? Why haven’t you watched Mozart in the Jungle yet? Which of our podcast hosts will recap Game of Thrones next season?

Spoilers: Mike gets Brian to binge-watch his all-time favorite show (there is a What’s Free Wednesday about Veronica Mars here on Fetchland in case you needed a little nudge, yourself); Brian gets Mike to try SyFy original The Expanse. At the time of this writing each has plowed basically the entire first season of the other’s recommendation.

Also cuddles.

Seriously.

“Basically Wall of Wood.”

Seriously.

All this and more on Top 8 Magic #427 – New Mixed Bag, at Mana Deprived

Direct Download

LOVE
MIKE

[For The People v. OJ Simpson “The Dream team” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

FX Summary:
The Dream Team. Robert Shapiro begins putting together OJ Simpson’s legal counsel.

“The Dream Team” essentially gets down to the brass tacks of doing business in Los Angeles. But because it’s Hollywood, baby, fame matters. And emotion matters even more, even in the business of criminal justice. This is one of the major flaws in the idealism of the prosecutors from the very beginning. They decide it works for them to have the trial “downtown” rather than Santa Monica where the crime took place. Gill likes the idea because he’s thinking of his next election and wants a few black people on the jury and Marcia Clark is bursting with confidence because of her record wins and the abundance of evidence against OJ. She does make a telling joke, though, about how it’s too bad OJ won’t get a jury of his peers, rich white people. Another significant but seemingly offhanded joke is when Darden explains to her that many black people are convinced OJ didn’t do it, “They’re emotional,” he says and notes that she doesn’t “get it” because she never gets emotional about her cases. This is apparently a point of pride for Marcia Clark. Unfortunately, it will also be her undoing.

The episode opens on Kardashian eating out on Father’s Day with his kids where he gets recognized for being “the OJ guy” and thus seated right away. His daughters ask if he thinks OJ did it and he says no way but they insist that their mother thinks he did it. King Kodependent says he believes in OJ and also lectures them that being a good person and loyal friend is much more important than being famous. “Fame is fleeting and means nothing without a virtuous heart,” he says. Kardashian’s sincerity is evident but his idealism also feels touched with delusion given that the children listening to this and nodding their heads in agreement are Kim and Khloe Kardashian.

Meanwhile, Robert Shapiro’s incredibly pissed off by the media’s portrayal of the OJ case. He calls F Lee Bailey and has him over for some expensive booze and wooing. He cries to Bailey about how bad it looks for OJ: the trail of blood straight into his house, the gloves, running away in the Bronco, etc. Then they turn on the TV and see Dershowitz talking about how terrible this whole thing is for OJ. They discuss smug Dershowitz and agree that the only way to shut him up is to hire him. Next they bring on Barry Scheck, the best DNA guy in the business. When they all meet to discuss the case Dershowitz lists all their mistakes including reading OJ’s apparent confession on TV. Once he’s finished pissing all over their parade they all start sharing strategies. Barry Scheck’s strategy is to show errors in the handling of DNA samples to attack every assumption brought by the prosecution. Dershowitz then takes this strategy further and says they’ll do the same with all the evidence and get as much thrown out as possible. Later Pat McKenna, their team’s lead investigator, says the LAPD treated OJ like they were his butler but he does happen to know one of them, Mark Furhman and that he’s a real prick – even Johnny Carson didn’t like him.

Cochran hasn’t yet joined the team but tells his wife he doesn’t want to lose along with that crowd of fancypants. She says sure sure but how would you feel if they got Simpson off without you on the team? Johnny has to admit he wouldn’t like that. OJ’s face is on the cover of Time, Newsweek, and all the other news magazines and there’s outrage in the media about how they made him look darker in his mugshot. So, the topic of racism has already entered the conversation. Next we see Pat McKenna back with Shapiro after investigating Mark Furhman’s files at the lAPD and it turns out he’s been deemed racially biased and it’s all on record. Thus, the cop that found the glove – the most crucial evidence – can be taken down on the stand for his “known racism” and now Shapiro has his strategy. This information combined with the LAPD’s history in the black community gives him all he needs to clinch the case. It’s the first time Shapiro has smiled in a long time. A reporter from The New Yorker Magazine comes by his office and Shapiro tells him about Mark Furhman and that the police set up OJ Simpson.

Then Marcia Clark sees her eyewitness, the one OJ screamed at from his Bronco. She’s on Hard Copy talking about the incident with Simpson on the night of the murder and basically gives all of her testimony right there on TV. Turns out the show paid her five thousand dollars to tell her story. Even though she’s the only real eyewitness for the prosecution from the night of the murders and crucial to the timeline, Marcia says they have to pull her from the witness list now that she’s been tainted by the media. Clark says they still have all the evidence they need to hold the high ground. Uh oh. Slippery slope here they come.

Next we see OJ talking to Shapiro, Bailey, and Kardashian. Shapiro says he wants to add Cochran to the team so he can better communicate with the downtown jury and OJ doesn’t like this idea at all. It’s in direct conflict with the way he self-identifies. “You want to make this about being black but I’m not black. I’m OJ,” and now we see that OJ never really liked or agreed with the very defense that ended up freeing him.

Christopher Darden gets a call from the reporter at the New Yorker and he tells Marcia about it, saying he knows Furhman is an important witness for her. She then asks Darden what he thinks about the case. He says it seems bulletproof. But Marcia’s shocked when Darden adds that it’s interesting how a lot of black people don’t think OJ did it. So, he attempts to explain the phenomenon but Clark never quite grasps the concept. Next she asks him what he thinks of AC Cowlings being prosecuted for aiding and abetting a felon when he drove OJ in the Bronco. Darden points out that OJ having the gun pointed to his head makes it complicated. Marcia says she wants Darden to lead this aiding and abetting case against Cowling and Darden says he hasn’t been in a courtroom in a long time but she insists he’s the right one for the Cowlings case.

Then things unravel even further for the DA’s office when the news media starts playing the 911 tapes of Nicole calling in about OJ beating her. Marcia rants that her evidence is already all on TV and she’s going to have nothing left by the time the trial starts. It certainly won’t help her case now. Then The New Yorker issue comes out and F Lee Bailey praises Shapiro for his big brass balls. They talk about how the 911 tapes being exposed puts them back in the winning game now that this article is the followup. How can having the 911 tapes out there help them? It’s a lot like what Robert Kardashian told his kids, “Fame is fleeting. It’s hollow,” so people get emotional about it today, yes. But then they move on to the next thing as they do with all news stories. There’s a new one right around the corner that will make them feel something completely different. And guess what that next thing is – Shapiro and his story about how it’s impossible for a black man to get a fair shake with the LAPD.

Meanwhile Darden tells Marcia and Gill he thinks this Shapiro story from The New Yorker could stick. The DA office starts to realize their case is no longer such a slam dunk and it’s going to be a battle after all. Kardashian then reads The New Yorker article to OJ in prison and Shapiro explains to OJ how the 911 tapes hurt his reputation as the golden boy and they need to bring Cochran on the case to seal the race story for them. Shapiro finally gets the OK from Simpson but then faces another obstacle when Cochran says he has to look into OJ’s eyes and believe him before he can join the case. Shapiro clearly doesn’t believe Simpson and thus gets a worried look on his face at the prospect.

So, then Cochran visits OJ in prison and they sit, just the two of them, while OJ cries. He loved Nicole. He didn’t do it. He couldn’t have done it. Johnny just has to believe him. OJ uses emotion like a master, wiping away the tears and tapping deep into Johnny’s soft heart. Cochran says he does believe it and that all he needs is one black juror for a hung jury and then OJ can go home.

In the final scene Marcia smokes at a picnic table in her backyard just as the sun’s coming up on a new day. She smokes her billionth cigarette and looks at the paper. On the front page is the news that Cochran has joined “The Dream Team,” and Clark only has one word to say about this, “Motherfucker”. She’s facing a formidable opponent in Cochran because he taps into people’s emotions, a skill Clark doesn’t have. In fact, this theme resonates throughout the episode. From the scene where Darden points out to Clark that her stoicism prevents her from understanding the black community’s point of view, to the argument among OJ’s Dream Team when they accuse each other of being too emotional. Yes, they are emotional and it works for them. You have to care deeply to convince people to think in different ways. You need passion and this dream team has tons to spare. Now, with Cochran joining them they have a veritable wall of passion. It’s all about getting the job done but in this case their work is a war with an ice queen armed with facts. So, who better to battle her than warriors with hearts afire?

–Katherine Recap

[For Better Call Saul> “Switch” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

AMC Summary:
Switch. Jimmy and Kim’s relationship takes a new turn. Mike feels it’s best to sever his affiliation with an unrestrained associate.

Here’s a brief refresher on Season one:

We love Jimmy McGill, a former scam artist who works hard to better himself and live a life of integrity. He wants to be like his brother, Chuck (Michael McKean), senior partner at a fancy law firm. Jimmy takes law classes online while working a day job as a mail clerk in his brother’s law firm. On his third attempt, he passes the bar exam. But Chuck, a “real lawyer” stricken with the not-real disease Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity, continues to look down on Jimmy and treats him like a manservant. Chuck even prevents Jimmy from joining his law firm. Thus Jimmy goes out on his own and creates a big case serving the Sandpiper Elderly Home residents and eventually building a case that proves the home is embezzling from them. He offers the case to his brother’s firm and they take it on but still won’t hire Jimmy because of Chuck’s blockage. We know eventually Jimmy becomes a big time successful lawyer named Saul Goodman because of his character in the TV show Breaking Bad. We also know that eventually he becomes “Gene” the broken and balding manager of a mall Cinnabon.Better Call Saul serves as prequel to when Jimmy McGill became Saul, sort of the origin story, and yet also so much more than that.

The episode “Switch” is about two kinds of switches; changes we make in life and also a simple light switch which stands for something much bigger. Jimmy engages both kinds in this episode and he explains that he’s in a phase right now of “breaking the rules” because he thinks he’s followed rules for too long, ever since he came to Albuquerque for Chuck and lived basically as his manservant, anyway. We know before that Jimmy was a small time conman. So, it really serves as no surprise that this is behavior Jimmy may slip back into at times. Well, the time is now.

This first episode of season two opens on Gene (future Saul/Jimmy) closing the Cinnabon at the mall for the night. He carries the trash bags out to the dumpsters at 9:20PM and accidentally lets the door slip shut behind him, thus locking him in with only the dumpsters and emergency exit door to keep him company. The door’s sign declares that any attempt to open it will trigger an alarm that alerts the police. So, Gene plants himself on the lone milk crate and waits. At 11:45PM the janitor opens the door to bring in the rest of the mall trash and Jimmy finally exits. Then we see that he used a loose screw to carve, “SG was here,” into the wall. He leaves his mark but as Saul, the lawyer; not as Gene, manager of the mall Cinnabon.

In the next scene we pick up where last season left off with Jimmy coming to the courthouse to see the Davis & Main team for the Sandpiper trial. He pulls Kim aside and asks her if something happening between them is contingent on if he takes the job with Davis & Main. She says one thing has nothing to do with the other and he’s happy, says “great,” turns down the job offer, and then leaves them in the courthouse. So, we see what happened in that space of time before he talked to Mike about the $1.6 million in the toll booth at the ned of last season’s finale. Jimmy then drives to the nail salon and gleefully drinks the forbidden cucumber water – pouring it straight into his mouth – before heading to his office at the back to close it down for good.

Meanwhile Mike meets his client, Pryce, in a parking lot. Pryce shows up in a bright yellow Hummer with red flames painted all around and license plate that read “PLAYUH”. Mike says he won’t go to the meetup with Pryce in that vehicle because this business requires restraint and the Hummer is basically screaming. Pryce says he’s taking it anyway whether Mike comes or not. Maybe he doesn’t really need Mike for protection anyway. He says “that Nacho guy” comes alone, so why can’t he? Mike says he highly recommends Pryce take some sort of backup but then he goes without Mike anyway. At the meetup Nacho asks to look at the Hummer and Pryce tells him all about the amenities then leaves him in the Hummer while he counts the money. Once alone in the Hummer Nacho looks in the glove compartment at the registration and takes note of Pryce’s home address.

Next we see Jimmy floating in a pool next to some nachos and a phone in a ziploc (waterproof). Kim comes by and says, “So, this is what a mid-life crisis looks like,” and he tells her it’s “mid-life clarity,” and to get in the pool so he can explain why he turned down Davis & Main. She says if he really wants to talk she’ll be in the bar. So, he comes joins her to say he’s quitting law. Kim asks if something happened in Cicero and he says Cicero has nothing to do with it. It’s just his whole life since he came to Albuquerque for Chuck and then doing everything for Chuck. Chuck. Chuck. Chuck. She’s frustrated for his sake and says he’s a great lawyer, though. Jimmy says the things that make him a great lawyer can make him great at something else. So she asks what the plan is and he has no plan. Kim keeps trying to convince him to try the Davis & Main job. He says he’s sick of doing the “right thing” for all these years and it’s gotten him nowhere.

In order to illustrate what he means Jimmy approaches a braggadocio wall street douche at the bar and asks him if there’s a limit to how much a person is allowed to invest. The guy says no. Then Jimmy pretends to tell K that they can invest ALL the money they just inherited and make more money off it. The stock guy then interjects that sure they can invest all their $1.4 million inheritance but they should diversify. He offers to help them and be their advisor, claiming that he’s practically “a money printing machine” so they should talk to him a bit. They sit down with Mr. Douche, giving him the fake names Viktor and Giselle Saint Claire. To the tune of the song Golddigger they drink an entire bottle of tequila at $50 a shot and “sign on” with him as their “advisor” using the fake names then leaving him with the gargantuan bill. They giggle and run out of the bar then smooch by the side of the hotel pool and end up sleeping together at Kim’s house.

Next we see a police car drive up to Pryce’s house and enter. He was robbed, and Pryce’s really really upset about his baseball card collection being stolen. They were very special and rare. The police ask if anything else was stolen and Pryce mentions cash but won’t tell them how much. In fact, he’s downright evasive about the cash. The police are clearly suspicious about how messed up the robbers made his house, all his fancy stuff, and his weird vagueness about the cash, “clearly they were looking for something in particular,” one of the cops says and notes that the robbers left the TV and computer. Raised eyebrow alert. While Pryce prints out his inventory list of baseball cards in another room the police find a secret hiding spot behind his couch but there’s nothing back there. They put the couch back before he returns.

Then we see Jimmy back on his float at the hotel pool calling Kim on the phone in a ziploc and suggesting their next mark at the hotel. He leaves her a message and then gets thoughtful before calling Davis & Main. Next thing we know, Jimmy has flipped an internal switch of sorts. He’s starting the job at Davis & Main; suited up and shaking hands. His office is beautiful, his assistant, Omar, is helpful, and they’re even giving him a company car. Sitting in his new office chair Jimmy sees a sign on the light switch that says “Always leave ON!!! Never switch OFF!!!” so he tears the scotch tape aside and pulls the sign off. Then Jimmy turns the switch off and stands aside a moment before flipping it back to the “on” position and replacing the sign.

The switch could be seen as symbolic in various ways but the simple interpretation is that Jimmy has found a small way to break the rules and still have a luxe life for himself. Yes, the pool was relaxing and the con was fun but Jimmy knows all too well how the life of a con man can turn down a dark alley and bleed to death. He’s been in that alley. One thing Jimmy’s never done is take an opportunity like this Dean & Main job. It was smart for him to find out first that Kim would be with him regardless. Now he knows that AND he can have the cushy lifestyle too. The switch is just his little way of saying that even though he’s taken the “good guy” route after all, he can still break some rules and keep that mischievous part of himself alive. Sadly, it seems that the later incarnation of his character, Gene, had to resort to actual vandalism to do so. Why not just try that emergency door, Gene? Jimmy McGill would have. Saul would have. Perhaps we’ll have to wait for Gene’s spinoff show to find out.

–Katherine Recap

[For Vinyl “Pilot” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

HBO Summary:
Pilot. Richie Finestra considers selling his struggling record company: Richie reunites with Lester Grimes.

The highly anticipated premiere of Vinyl is finally here. From Executive Producers Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger, along with Boardwalk Empire writer and creator Terence Winter, this one’s stocked with great actors like Bobby Cannavale, Olivia Wilde, Juno Temple, Ray Romano… and even Mick Jagger’s son, James Jagger. So, it sounds like it’ll be sexy as hell. Set in the early 70s New York City music scene, the show promises cool clothes along with drugs and sensual indiscretions. There are heroes you love to hate, which Richie (the Bobby Cannavale character) declares about himself right up front; and pertains perfectly to the lead singer of the band Nasty Bits, played by James Jagger. So, we have parallel portraits of a decline and rise in the music business in this “Pilot” episode. But most importantly we’ve got sex, drugs, rock n’ roll… and don’t forget murder for good measure. Gotta throw something in there for the kids after all. Also at a fully engorged two hours, this “Pilot” episode is longer than the majority of feature films.

There are several storylines and time periods, all from the drug-addled Richie’s point of view. So even when he’s screwing a true artist out of his dream it’s Richie who is portrayed as the victim. The hot mess of disorganization is another consequence of Richie’s storytelling style. We jump back and forth between the 70s, 60s, and 50s without consistent transitions. Despite these flaws, the whirlwind pace and pure bastard perspective works for Vinyl. The conflicts twist and spin into several hilarious crescendos, including a homicide, a building collapse, and confrontation over who’s more hateful: Germans or the people who hate Germans?

The main story takes place in 1973 NYC: Richie Finestra (the sex and Brooklyn sandwich Bobby Cannavale) is a sobered record company owner with a gorgeous wife, Devon (Olivia Wilde) and two kids in Greenwich Connecticut, along with an apartment in the city. He’s got a driver but — in one of the show’s funny ironies — when he ends up getting loaded drinking booze from the bottle and snorting eight balls, he drives himself. Richie explains to us that he built his record company, American Century, from years of hard work, exploiting the artists, and cooking the books. His main helpers were Zak Yankovich (Ray Romano) and a magic mustached guy named Skip Fontaine. They’ve all three screwed the company with major flops and decades of playing pretend with their bottom line. It’s time to sell the company, so they’re in talks with Polygram AKA “The Germans” to buy the stinker out. The big joke to them is that it’s OK to screw Polygram with this lemon because they’re German and thus it’s reparations. Thing is the sale also screws Richie’s people and his artists; and A&R* reps will likely get either booted from the label or, at the very least, less favorable deals.

At the same time Richie’s attempting to land Led Zeppelin, the hottest band at the time, and for good reason. In fact, it turns out The Germans mainly want to buy his company for this reason. Ironically, when Led Zeppelin’s manager finds out they may be sold to Germans he wants to pull out of the deal because he hates Germans. Their deal was already tenuous because Zeppelin got wind of how Richie might screw them with a low royalties cut. Robert Plant, their lead singer, confronts Richie face to face but it’s not until Plant gets up on stage afterward and starts singing that we see why this actor was cast as Plant. When singing he’s transformed from a prancing dweeb into the real deal… and his performance brings a tear to Richie’s eye at the thought of losing Led Zeppelin.

Another storyline focuses on the American Century sandwich girl and drug purveyor, Juno Temple as Jamie Vine. She meets the lead singer of a band called the Nasty Bits and takes his tape for a listen. Jamie keeps the employees fed and high but her real dream is to join the A&R team and sign new talent. Her discovery of the Nasty Bits inspires Richie and she does seem to really get what gives them potential. In one of the most interesting scenes she and the lead singer, Kip (played by James Jagger) have an after sex convo where she explains that his band sucks… but their emotional impact on the audience was awesome, and that means he could be a star. Then Jamie asks him what he cares about and he says, “Fucking. Fighting. Nothing,” and she says that’s his band persona from now on – he doesn’t give a fuck. As Jamie leaves, Kip is sticking a needle in his arm and the drug dealer tells him to be careful with that stuff. Thing is, Jamie, it’ll really help him with the whole not-giving-a-fuck persona.

Past and present come together for Richie when he hears enticing music and sees a bunch of people dancing outside. So he has his driver pull over… But when he asks a guy who’s “in charge of this area” about the music they pull a gun on him and say he should move along. It’s not his place. When he gets home later Richie listens to Lester Grimes playing and singing on a Blues record and it turns out Lester was the guy standing beside the one with the gun that shunned him. We’re transported to Richie’s memory of discovering Lester, the first artist he ever represented, singing the Blues in a club where Richie worked behind bar. Over the course of the episode we check on the trajectory of Richie representing Lester. First he lets the record company force a new name on Lester, “Little Johnny Little” because he’s so tall. Ha ha. Except it’s not really funny at all. Then that same record company guy makes Lester sing lame dance tunes when all he wants is to sing the Blues. It’s a shit spiral of compromise for Lester; all the while Richie is moving up in the world and ends up with his own record company. Lester, on the other hand, ends up lying in a pool of his own blood when Richie leaves him behind at the now-bought-out old record label where they really must insist he continue singing cha cha cha crap.

It’s clear from Richie’s portrayal that he manages to excuse all this as him “learning the hard way” from his experience with Lester. The record company insisted on shafting Lester, he conveys in his telling. But Richie also tells the Germans about how his company makes money even from their worst artists by making them pay all production costs and assorted “fees” out of their final cut from record sales. He’s mighty proud of how he protects the American Century bottom line by sticking it to the musicians and not quite contrite enough about Lester. Richie seems to think he’s just like any other businessman, but in the process conveniently forgets how much he hurts the very artists he claims to love. Also, there’s something more to this Lester story: Lester’s phenomenal talent was singing and playing the Blues. It didn’t just hurt Lester to deprive him of that; it genuinely robbed the music world of a gifted artist. For someone in Richie’s position, that’s the greatest crime of all.

Richie’s relationship with his wife, Devon, isn’t explored much in the “Pilot” but she does throw him a birthday party against his will. During the party we find out she was a Warhol girl and that they miss her at the Factory. Andy’s been asking after her. Devon claims that her husband and kids have filled her heart to the brim and this life in Greenwich, Connecticut is all she needs to be happy. But we recognize that faraway look in her eyes. She misses the high life. In a later scene Richie loses all control and starts drinking again. He offers the bottle to Devon and she pretends to drink but then spits it in his face instead, so then Richie hits the road and buys an eight ball just to seal in the juicy goodness of his sobriety lapse.

What sets him off onto this loony trek? The craziest scenes are with Andrew Dice Clay’s Buck Rogers, the radio guy moneymaker who’s in conflict with American Century because of “that bastard Donny Osmond,” whom they represent. Apparently Donny pissed Buck off and ever since Buck’s been stuffing coke in his nose and raging about it nonstop. Buck’s on a power trip and plans to boycott all American Century artists so they’ll get no radio play. That means no money and potentially no deals too. Richie takes a meeting with Buck in a sex club surrounded with naked writhing duos, threesomes and so on. It’s a hilarious scene where they discuss the Osmond’s asthma and whether or not Buck’s face resembles an asshole, which it kinda does. Richie brought his buddy Joe Corso to the meeting, an “independent promoter” who brings coke for Buck and appears to have mob ties.

After their meeting Richie goes to his surprise birthday party during which he gets a call from Joe that Buck is finally ready to strike a deal with him now that he’s on day three of his coke binge. Andrew Dice Clay delivers an eerily realistic egotistical cokehead gone mad. He repeats that Richie has to “face his fears,” a zillion times with such fervor and sincerity you gotta wonder if the guy really was out of his mind during filming. After his tirade Buck shoots a hole in his TV screen. Then Buck and Richie fight with Richie nearly choking to death until Joe intervenes with a microphone trophy to the back of Buck’s head. They think they killed Buck but as they search for something to hide his body in, Buck attacks them from behind so they really do have to kill him — with intent this time. Richie says they should call the cops and say it was self defense. But Joe says no way this looks like self defense. They gotta clean it up and get rid of the body. Joe knows how they can dump it and make it look like “just another drug deal gone bad,” so that’s the last we’ll see of Andrew Dice Clay as Buck. It was a blast while it lasted.

We’re transported at the end of the episode to a coked up Richie in the Mercer Arts club seeing The New York Dolls perform. The ceiling and walls split and come down on the audience who are all so caught up and oblivious in their love of the music that they don’t notice until the pipes also start bursting and spraying water on them. Then the stage lights come crashing down and the whole building collapses into an enormous crumble of smoke and rubble. After it settles we can discern Richie flat on his back, alive and dusty as fuck. He stumbles out of the wreckage and down the cobblestone street but he’s smiling because of the music in his head. In the after show back story we find out that the Mercer Arts Center actually did collapse but just during a rehearsal, not a performance and not with The New York Dolls either. But it’s cool to take artistic license for the sake of art and right on theme for Vinyl.

Vinyl delivers mad fun, fantastic music, and fab costumes with the sexy pairs Cannavale/Wilde and Temple/Jagger at the helm. It’s perfect timing for a show set in 1970s NYC with the current bellbottom boho fashion explosion and every art gallery in the city hanging up pics from this era on their walls right now. But the real acid test of any show lies with story. You can’t stay hot on TV without strong ass writing and a bullet train narrative. Can Vinyl’s story hold up? Some of the signs are there. We’ve got cliffhanger questions after the two hour “Pilot,” like how’s Richie going to avoid the homicide detective already on his tail about Buck’s murder? Will he keep boozing and coking his days away? Will the American Century buyout go through after all? What bands are we going to see in the next episode? Scorsese directed the “Pilot” so it’s possible things could go downhill from here but either way it’s worth it to tune in for all the sexy beasts onscreen and the rad tunes to boot.

–Katherine Recap

* Artists and repertoire.The division of a record label or music publishing company that is responsible for talent scouting and overseeing the artistic development of recording artists and songwriters.

Tristan Thompson

Top 8 Tristan Thompson

Posted by michaelj | Sports

Tristan Thompson is not a 2016 Eastern Conference All-Star. Despite being the most effective Cavalier per minute and the most productive Power Forward in the East at the All-Star break the fans preferred both Paul George (below average this season) and Carmelo Anthony (LOL) as starting front court wingmen to The King. The “experts” did no better. While all three are productive, none of Paul Millsap, Pau Gasol, or especially Chris Bosh are TT’s equal this season. Kevin Love — Tristan’s teammate on the Cleveland Cavaliers — also is not the Canadian rebounder’s equal (and he, too, probably should have been an All-Star).

I mean it’s kind of silly that the runaway best team in the Eastern Conference has only one All-Star.

But grousing about the inequity of All-Star game selections is hackneyed, trite, and overdone every year. What is more interesting is if Tristan will also be robbed of his potential end-of-year honors as Sixth Man of the Year (or even candidacy). Sixth Man of the Year typically goes to a leading scorer off the bench, as with Jamal Crawford’s multiple honors or [now-Cavalier] J.R. Smith; but there is precedent for a top rebounder or defensive player on a team with a great record also; Lamar Odom was very deserving in 2011.

Thompson started off the season as a benchwarmer, but both David Blatt and Tyronn Lue have experimented with TT in the starting lineup. Too much of that will violate Tristan’s potential Sixth Man of the Year candidacy… But that can’t be any coach’s primary consideration. Rather, how does this talented and underrated rebounding machine perform, and more importantly how does the team do with him coming off the bench, versus in the starting lineup?

I. Starts

The Cavs have fifty-two games logged as of the All-Star break. Tristan has come off the bench in thirty of those and started “only” twenty-two… but all of the last ten.

Of particular note: Thompson is the only Cavalier to have played in all fifty-two games prior to the All-Star break, starts or no.

II. Coach

The season’s original coach David Blatt started Tristan twelve times in forty-one games.

New coach Tyronn Lue on the other hand has started Tristan ten out of eleven total games (including each of the last ten).

III. Points

Tristan averages only 7.7 points per game this season; 6.8 points per game off the bench and 8.9 as a starter.

… But playing next to LeBron James, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, and J.R. Smith (who never met a contested jumper he didn’t love) we don’t really expect TT to be a prolific volume scorer.

IV. Rebounds

Tristan is a top-ten rebounder this season, even by civilian statistics.

He is averaging 9.51 rebounds per game (9 off the bench and 10.1 when starting).

This might be counterintuitive, but Tristan’s per-minute rebounding is remarkably stronger as a bench player (17.54 rebounds per 48 minutes) than as a starter (14.8 rebounds per 48 minutes).

Consider the per-48 minute rebounding of the East and West All-Star front court players:

James 9.55
George 9.68
Bosh 10.53
Anthony 10.86
Millsap 12.68
Gasol 16.37
Drummond 21.26

Leonard 9.89
Durant 10.67
Green 13.40
Aldridge 13.54
Davis 13.65
Cousins 15.58

As a starter Tristan is a better per-minute rebounder than almost every 2016 NBA All-Star and only Andre Drummond is better than the bench version, per minute.

Why do Tristan’s total numbers go up as a starter if his per-minute efficiency is greater off the bench?

Easy answer: More minutes! Tristan plays 32.8 minutes on average as a starter, versus 24.8 minutes off the bench.

For that matter, why do his per-minute numbers go down when he starts?

Presumably… Weaker opposition. As a starter, Tristan’s excellent rebounding will be contested by the opponent’s best bigs, but as a bench player a greater percentage of minutes will be against opposing benchwarmers.

V. Record

Individual statistics are all well and good… But how does the team do with Tristan starting versus coming off the bench?

When Tristan starts the Cavs have an awesome 81% win rate (18-4).

On balance, Tristan’s coming off the bench gives the Cavs a mere 67% win rate… 20-10.

These aren’t perfectly clean A/B statistics… Almost half Tristan’s starts have come under a new coach and with Kyrie Irving back from injury, for example.

VI. Point Differential

Point differential tends to have a stronger signal to a team’s final record than its current W/L record.

The Cavaliers have the strongest average margin of victory in the East, between five and six points per game. That number exceeds both the 2011 Dallas Mavericks and the 2010 Los Angeles Lakers (both of whom won the NBA title). With Tristan coming off the bench, that average falls to a differential of 3.3… Which is wildly below any of the title contending teams I looked at from the last several years.

However…

With Tristan starting, the Cavs win by a monstrous nine points per game.

Consider the last several NBA Championship teams:

2015 Golden State 10.1
2014 San Antonio 7.7
2013 Miami 7.9
2012 Miami 6
2011 Dallas 4.2
2010 Los Angeles 4.7
2009 Los Angeles 7.7

The Tristan-in-the-starting-lineup Cavaliers, despite having a weaker per-minute Thompson, outstrip the majority of recent Championship-winning teams by point differential comparison… Unfortunately they are still a little behind last year’s Warriors.

Oh, and both the Warriors and Spurs have stronger point differentials than “9” in 2015-2016. On the other hand, the Cavs will only have to play one of them, best case scenario.

VII. Narrative

One of the reasons I stopped doing The Top 8 after the first few weeks was that I realized that no individual regular season games really meant anything so the narratives weren’t even interesting. Even the blowout at the hands of the Warriors doesn’t mean anything with regard to the team’s real ability or prospects.

“The Warriors blew the Cavs out by thirty!” is what the National media is going to scream before Game One of the projected Finals. Who cares? It seems pretty likely at this point that the Cavs were deliberately trying to get their coach fired. Or are we to assume they also can’t beat the Trail Blazers (the team who beat the Cavs also by 30+)… right after they lost to the Warriors on Christmas?

I think you’d have to acknowledge more than a little bias to say the Warriors aren’t a better team, top to bottom, than the Cavs right now… But common sense is going to tell you that whichever team wins the West — Spurs or Warriors, or even OKC or the Clippers — will have had 20+ brutal fistfights to get to the Finals whereas the Cavs will probably have roflstomped their opposition 12-0. Remember, last year’s Cavs were hovering about .500 at this point in the season and despite all their injuries lost only two games in the East come playoff time, and even then only because J.R. Smith got himself suspended.

Sure there are a lot of weird things you can say about Tristan starting versus coming off the bench.

Is it weird that the team point differential goes up by a mile while increasing a diluted level of per-minute production? Yes, until you acknowledge that Mozgov isn’t performing as well as he did last year and that Tristan starting at Center is an addition-by-subtraction.

Is it weird to have a Center who is shorter than your PF? You mean like the Wallace brothers all during those dominant (and title-winning) Detroit Pistons years a decade ago?

You know what’s really weird? The concept of a Center at all in 2016! The Western Conference All-Stars are starting two Shooting Guards* and a Small Forward at “front court”. No Center, no PF at all! Draymond Green (the second most productive Warrior by a wide margin in either direction) would be a wing on most traditional lineups.

VIII. Conclusion

Tristan’s likelihood of making Sixth Man of the Year was probably low to begin with. He’s an outstanding player who has a fat contract and the acknowledgement of the best coach in the league… But isn’t a gaudy enough scorer for a lot of mainstream attention. I do think it’s silly he didn’t make the All-Star team (or that Cleveland has all of one All-Star) but it really does seem like the Cavs have better prospects with him starting, rather than coming off the bench.

LOVE
MIKE

* Kawhi at least used to be a Shooting Guard 🙂

[For The People v. OJ Simpson “The Run of His Life” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

FX Summary:
The Run of His Life. With OJ Simpson missing in the white Bronco his lawyers must deal with the fallout as the DA’s office and LAPD scramble.

Episode two, “The Run of His Life” opens with Kardashian AKA King Kodependent praying for OJ and Shapiro begging on the phone with the DA, Gil Garcetti, saying he had no idea OJ was going to run. Shapiro’s so smart. He begins the discussion by saying, “I’m so sorry he did this to US,” immediately aligning himself with Gil, whom he also reminds came to his fiftieth birthday party. The DA isn’t empathetic and ends the call abruptly by hanging up on Shapiro. Then Kardashian shows Shapiro OJ’s suicide note, signed with a happy face. The news media is all over OJ on the run while the DA’s office watches horrified and points fingers of blame, mainly at the specter of OJ’s celebrity and Robert Shapiro. Gil says this is the worst day of his life, worse than when he was diagnosed with cancer. Teams of news crews and cop cars hit the road searching for fugitive OJ. There’s only one story being told in the United States today and it’s the car chase to end all car chases… except that it’s really not a car chase at all. OJ isn’t chased but rather escorted. The police had an opportunity to shoot him or at least take him into custody and instead they let him go then cleared the freeway, surrounded his vehicle, and escorted him home to Brentwood.

In this episode we only see a tiny glimpse of the angry Simpson that raged through the first one and that tiny bit of OJ anger is directed at AC, who keeps flipping out under the pressure. This episode is all about apologetic OJ. He says sorry over and over and over, mostly to the police who, we soon come to realize, adore him and OJ desperately wants to keep it that way. It’s unclear how sincere OJ’s suicide threats are but what resounds abundantly clear is that he uses them to hold the one thing hostage everybody cares most about – the icon, OJ Simpson. Maybe he wanted to set off a reminder flare about how much this “American Hero” meant to us right before the arrest. Or maybe he really just wanted to kill himself. Either way, by holding the gun to his head OJ runs the entire show from a seemingly passive and vulnerable position. Meanwhile he’s getting highways cleared and police escorts home. This is a person who definitely doesn’t think the rules apply to him and he’s going to make sure the whole country knows it. We must never forget that he deserves special treatment simply because he’s OJ. No matter that he’s suspected of double murder with a warrant out for his arrest.

Meanwhile at the DA office Gil gets on the news and says that anybody who helps OJ is harboring a fugitive which is a felony and he’ll personally make sure they’re prosecuted. He makes clear that the DA’s office alleges the murder weapon was a knife. Christopher Darden, who’s taking a few days off, then arrives at his family’s home and the one living room in the country watching the PGA golf tournament rather than the white Bronco. Darden changes the channel to watch the news and sees his peers from the DA office on TV. He empathizes with Marcia and Gil immediately and his father says, “You know those people?”. Meanwhile Shapiro and Kardashian do their own press conference, mainly to help clear Shapiro’s reputation. Shapiro declares that he had no idea OJ was going to run and then talks primarily about what a reliable person and fantastic lawyer he is. Johnnie Cochran, watching this, says it’s a mistake and that an attorney should always put their client’s needs first. Then King Kodependent reads the “suicide note” as part of the Shapiro press conference as well. In it OJ says he sometimes felt like a “battered husband” which dumbfounds Marcia Clark who’s watching in her office. Then Bill quips to her, “Well, you know, he cut his hand while he was killing her,” deftly delivering the best line of the episode.

In the meantime to the tune of the Beastie Boys singing Sabotage, a couple in a VW van recognize the white Bronco with AC at the wheel on the California highway and call it in from a highway pay phone. The police quickly pull up to the bronco but AC won’t comply with anything; even the mere request to speak to OJ. He just says OJ’s in the back with a gun to his head. Though they have guns drawn at the white Bronco, AC won’t even open a window. The cops then refuse to shoot at OJ Simpson without authorization so AC ends up simply driving away from them because they don’t even threaten to take action or try to negotiate terms. He drives away as soon as he realizes their guns are simply bluffing.

Then Kardashian, weepy in a flowered tie, goes to OJ’s family members and tells them about the suicide note. He adds that “We have reason to believe he’s killed himself,” but just as they’re all joining him in weeping the nearby TV broadcasts that OJ’s in the back seat of the white Bronco driving down the freeway, alive. Shapiro also sees this news from his own living room and hears the broadcaster say Simpson’s basically driving up and down the freeway with a police escort. “Good for you, OJ,” Shapiro says, “We’re still in the game” so we see that his earlier press conference was made under the assumption that OJ was dead. Shapiro thought the game was over and didn’t realize it was all really just beginning.

The DA team discusses what the protocol could possibly be for apprehending an armed celebrity fugitive surrounded by police cars and helicopters. Nobody has an answer but Marcia does suggest shooting out his tires – not the worst idea but poo pooed by Gil for representing a shootout on national TV. Simultaneously in the white Bronco, AC and OJ talk about what they should do and AC tells him to think about his kids. OJ says he needs to see his mother. So, AC calls 911 and says “they” need to clear the freeway so OJ can go to Brentwood. Turns out the operator took immediate action and the police quickly do clear the highway for OJ. Just like that. At that moment on TV it’s the NBA finals and the producers interrupt the game to go to live coverage of the OJ story. Clark walks through the DA’s office where everybody is watching the news reportage and then she calls Bill and asks how OJ got his white Bronco back when they impounded it and she’s told it’s actually AC’s bronco; he copied OJ. It’s OJ’s world, they’re just living in it, it seems at that moment.

OJ then calls King Kodependent from the car and they revel in their bromance and tell each other “I love you,” then OJ reminisces and tells Kardashian to say goodbye to everybody for him and starts listing people. Kardashian says OJ can tell them himself because he’s going to see them again. OJ says he just wants to go home to see his mother but Kardashian says that’s probably not the best idea right now. Next we see Cochran in a news interview talking about how OJ is innocent until proven guilty. He also tells a story about one of his clients who was also innocent until proven guilty but was killed by police anyway simply because of the color of his skin. It was the first of many such cases, unfortunately, Cochran says. OJ then gets a call from a detective at the police station and apologizes profusely to them for making them work so hard “late on a Friday when they probably want to go home to their kids,” and says the gun isn’t for hurting them. He would never do that. The gun if for himself, he says. They tell him they’ll let him go home but that the gun is scaring everybody, won’t he throw it away? OJ says no because he “deserves to get hurt” and says he wants to join Nicole.

Meanwhile Christopher Darden talks to his family’s neighbors over the backyard fence. They are speaking highly of OJ and Darden points out that Simpson never really gave back to the black community, so they can’t really claim him as one of theirs. He left never to return and basically became white. But the neighbor says, “Well, you got the cops chasing him, so he’s black now”. The news media shows crowds of people holding up signs and chanting that OJ’s innocent. OJ sees them and cries when AJ says it’s because the people love him. Marcia Clark watches a news report that seems like a eulogy for OJ and declares that they have to get him alive so he can face and pay for what he’s done. Meanwhile OJ can’t get to the house in Brentwood because of all the people outside with supportive signs, blocking his way. But then they finally pull into the driveway. Once there, AC and OJ’s son beg him not to shoot himself and OJ finally puts the gun in his lap, crying. Night falls and OJ remains in the Bronco, surrounded by helicopters and with AC on the phone with police. His home is full of SWAT police as well. He decides it’s time to just do it and puts the gun in his mouth. Then the phone rings and it’s King Kodependent again. Kardashian convinces OJ to come inside. The deal is that he has to leave the gun in the Bronco and in exchange the police won’t put him in handcuffs outside but will do the arrest inside the house. No perp walk – just like OJ wanted all along. So, OJ comes out of the Bronco apologizing all the while to the police. Initially they think he has a gun until Kardashian screams that it’s just pictures of his kids and saves him from being shot. OJ comes inside and collapses into King Kodependent’s arms. He keeps apologizing over and over. Then, once seated on his couch, OJ asks for some orange juice and talks to his mother on the phone.

The news media then declares that OJ’s been arrested and we see him get in the back of a police car and it starts driving toward the station. Marcia Clark seems happy and satisfied that they’ll be taking him to trial after all. Christopher Darden in the backyard of his family’s home comments that he may get put on this trial after all. Darden’s family neighbors say they hope he’s not representing the state on this case because OJ was clearly framed. This surprises Darden who says no, he’s certain OJ wasn’t framed but the neighbors can’t be dissuaded from their point of view. A line of separation forms here for Darden on principle and it’s a line that will grow longer and longer until it divides the entire country as the trial commences and everybody takes a side – each based in their own strong principles.

–Katherine Recap