Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Mozart, Sibelius, and Schubert don’t get a lot of airtime at my place. It’s not that I don’t care for them, rather that I haven’t the time, which really means I’d rather watch something than listen to something. But if music from these gentlemen and others of that ilk can be compressed into smaller sized samples…
Let me explain –
On February 6th of 2014, Amazon released the pilot for an original TV series. It was called Mozart in the Jungle,
and it was an adaption from Blair Tindall‘s book – Mozart in the Jungle; Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music. I reviewed the pilot here, and then the long wait began. Amazon had left it to its viewers to vote on which of six pilots would be made into a series.
So on Dec 23rd, 2014, Amazon rolled out the rest of the series 1st season. I reviewed the second episode called Fifth Chair here, and settled in to watch the remaining episodes. But somewhere around Episode 4 (You Have Insulted Tchaikovsky) or Episode 5 (I’m With the Maestro), I felt the show had left the rails, venturing into territories that neither interested me, nor seemed a part of the story that I had begun some time before. So I abandoned the series.
Now, in the present, with some time on my hands, along with the knowledge that Amazon had rolled out Season 2 of Mozart in the Jungle for release on December 30th, less than a week ago, I jumped back in and finished Season 1, and dove in to binge-watch Season 2.
My original complaint still registered, even after completing Season One. With 10 half-hour shows, it isn’t that much of an investment in terms of time to watch the show and a full season of the series.. Especially since it is not on broadcast TV, you can choose the time when you want to sit down to view the show. What you get is a mix of comedy and drama, seasoned with sex, classical music, and an occasional foray into drugs, and what I expected was a linear story, that had plot lines that you could follow along with.
But the reality is that the term ‘linear’ only fits some of the time. Which is to say, that when the show isn’t following a dramatic linear plot line, it often strays into a version of the Seinfeld model. Notice I said ‘version’.
I’m not talking about the Seinfeldian quirky and silly characters behaving badly or foolishly. Rather, I’m saying that what appear to be normal folks are suddenly participating in a zany or screwball comedy only without punch lines. There is a sense of disconnect from one episode to the next – as if to say that the show often heads off on a what appears to be a tangent which appears to be kind of remote. Only it isn’t.
It all does tie in – but not immediately, and not without some serious thinking. I guess I am saying that the script might be described as too clever by half. Or, when you think that the opposite is true, you might call it brilliant
This is not to say that the episodes are divergent – but rather that the characters perform to preconceived and conceptualized story arcs that seem to be cloaked behind a bit of intentional randomness.
In Season 2, (SOME SLIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD) we can start with the ongoing financial struggles between the Symphony’s Board and the Symphony’s employees/musicians/artistes. From there, there will be 2 divorces, 1 death, a lesbian affair, a theft of an expensive musical instrument, plenty of Board Room intrigues and deceptions, a whirlwind orchestral tour of South America which included several episodes, on location, in and about our southern neighbor, Mexico.
Yes, there will be a continuance of some inter-personal back stabbing, a few unexpected and inexplicable romantic turns, Hailey’s (or Jai-Lai as she’s called by Rodrigo) maturing, Lizzie’s mellowing, and some interesting changes (including a brand new boy wonder of a conductor) at the podium.
Rodrigo and Thomas prove themselves to be far different then we first met them, as does Bernadette Peters‘ Gloria and her nemesis, the rich and selfish donor Edward Biber.
I guess my favorite character is Cynthia (above) played by Saffron Burrows, and the best performing role has to be awarded to Gael Garcia Bernal as the mercurial Rodrigo.
With all twenty episodes now watched, absorbed, and contemplated – I can safely say that the overall result/impact is favorable. The producers and writers have intentionally not answered every question nor resolved every situation. And yet, having just said that – I can definitely say that there is a strong sense of the ‘feel good’ while the series is decidedly open-ended. Meaning, a Third Season of Mozart in the Jungle would be most welcome.
[edit on January 11th] – To the surprise of many, including me, Mozart in the Jungle won the 2016 Golden Globe for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy, and Gael Garcia Bernal won the 2016 Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy.
The trailer for Mozart in the Jungle Season 2: