Created by: Cameron Crow
Starring: Luke Wilson, Carla Gugino, Imogene Poots
Cameron Crowe is most often at his best when he is drawing from his myriad of real experiences for storytelling. Sure he can be sentimental, melodramatic, and he trades on nostalgia but it works because he means it. The best representation of him at his best is Almost Famous. When you look at Elizabethtown you see a film where it all gets the best of him, outside of a few great scenes. His new series for Showtime, Roadies, is traveling down the path that was laid out by Almost Famous.
The series follows the eclectic group of roadies, and other crew, that travel with an arena rock band. While we don’t know too much about the band’s actual music they feel like a classic rock band traveling based on existing popularity and old songs, not a current band releasing new music. That said they are a successful brand still playing arenas so the crew is quite large. The series is a drama/comedy much in the same vein as Almost Famous. The big difference between the two is that the series is weighed down by television formula. When we get those glimmers of Cameron Crowe greatness they are often followed by TV formula, sadly. Almost Famous provided us a character, an innocent version of Crowe himself, as a gateway into this crazy world of music and debauchery. We almost have that with the great Imogen Poots as Kelly Ann. She’s different because she’s spunky and confident while still being innocent. When we first see her sliding around backstage on her skateboard the show feels like a true sequel to Almost Famous. Then as I previously mentioned, her story slips in and out of TV formula comedy/drama grossness. That does lead to a great part of the show, the cast. Luke Wilson is great as the old school leader of the crew. He’s a recovering alcoholic, but he does still indulge in certain amenities of touring with a band.My favorite cast member is easily Carla Gugino. She’s in a role that would have been custom made for Bonnie Badeleia in the 1980’s. The big difference is Gugino is still sexy, in that boss crossed with old school rock fan, crossed with a soccer mom vibe. Luis Guzman, and Jacqueline Byers are also a lot of fun.
Sadly, Roadies isn’t the show I want it to be, at least in season one, but it has some great characters and there are great moments in almost every episode, along with the TV formula. I love the stage and equipment setups shots used for cutaways and all of the quirky traditions that I’d like to think are based at least a little on some of Crowe’s real experiences touring with band’s as a journalist. If you’re a music fan Crowe does use his influence to get great music for the show and some great real musician cameos. One thing about Crowe is that he knows how to use music for dramatic effect, and he does it throughout the season.