Written and directed by show creator Cameron Crowe “Roadies” with its pilot episode has a polished big screen feel to it, as well it should. Crowe has written a number of feature films, including “Almost Famous” and “Jerry McGuire.” This new television series about the backstage goings-on of fictional band Staton-House is sharp snappy and looks brilliant. It is all about sex, rock and roll and firecrackers and features no drugs at all, so far.
Kelly Ann (Imogen Poots) has a partial scholarship to a New York film school and is planning to leave the group. Luke Wilson is Bill, the tour manager who has a taste for the younger ladies and has history with Shelli (Carla Gugino) the production manager. These two, despite the teen sex, feel more married than most married couples do.
Phil (Ron White) is a pistol packing member of the roadie’s who is paid to keep everything running smooth-ish and make everyone feel good. Rafe Spall is Reg Whitehead, the English hatchet man sent in by management to cut corners and lop off the fat.
At the start of “Roadies” in “Life is a Carnival” Bill is having sex with the 22 year old daughter of the promoter. Shelli declares the young woman a teenager and the coitus at the beginning causes all sorts of problems.
There is a stalker, Natalie Shin (Played with a delightful goofy madness by Jacqueline Byers.) who sneaks into the venue when Kelly Ann’s brother Wesley (Machine Gun Kelly) comes to cry on her shoulder. Wes has been fired from Pearl Jam by Mike McCready himself.
At this juncture there is a need to address the soundtrack, not only is it spot on in terms of adding ambiance to a scene it matches the action perfectly. A case in point is the entrance of Natalie Shin, who shoves her foot in the door that Wesley has just opened, and waltzes in unnoticed by the backstage technicians.
The music that accompanies her journey, which includes manically shagging one of the backstage crew for his laminate is “Get Free” by Major Lazer. The music is a perfect fit for the obviously free spirit of Shin who also has little to no inhibitions in terms of getting what she wants.
There are, however, some things that do not count as top notch storytelling. We know, for instance, just how Kelly Ann’s dilemma will resolve itself. On the same side of this irritant is the fact that she and Spall’s character Reg are obviously meant to be an item. Add to this the clear love triangle that will develop with faux Brit Milo (Peter Cambor) and it all becomes a little too predictable.
The end of the first episode was also signposted early on but to keep from entering spoiler territory it will remain a mystery for now. But trust us, you will pick it out from the moment it is mentioned.
Just as the clear attraction that exists between Bill and Shelli, who apparently have a past, is also a bit annoying. The main difference here is that the two already function as a sort of man and wife facsimile. Appointing nannies to look after the lead singer’s child adds to this illusion.
There are quirky characters and a mutual love of the band that they, the roadies, support. The implication being that one does not tech for a band that one does not adore. It is, according to show creator Crowe, the ultimate fanboy or fangirl job.
“Roadies” comes with a great cast and Crowe does a capable job directing the pilot episode. The combination of soundtrack, interesting characters and great acting fills in many blanks and makes for an entertaining open.
Stand-up comic Ron White as Phill is all OTT attitude and “good ole boy” charm. His portrayal is brilliant right down to his “heartfelt” advice to Kelly Ann where he calls her by the wrong name partway through. So too is his melt down when confronted by Reg Whitehead.
Rafe Spall is, as always, a pleasure to see in anything. A more than capable actor, Rafe can do it all, comedy, drama and American television. The son of Timothy Spall, who worked in all three of the “Cornetto” films is proving that the acorn does not fall far from the tree at all.
“Roadies” is a fun show to watch and the quality of the cast makes it all the more enjoyable. Airing Sundays (starting June 26) on Showtime this will quickly become favorite so rock on.