Previously on The Get Down, “Where There is Ruin, There is Hope For a Treasure”
The second and third episodes of The Get Down proved to be an improvement above the first. The sixty-minute format helped corral some of the errant threads into a more cohesive narrative. There is still too much trite flab this show could easily cut and be the better for it.
Give the Future Most of Your Attention
“The DJ lives in two time zones,” Grand Master Flash tells his grasshoppers. The now and the future. Be in the present, but give the future most of your attention.
The Now of the show is about disco. It’s about Cadillac and Queen Annie and Mylene. It’s about the world they were born into.
The Future is about hip hop. It’s The Fantastic Four (plus one) The Get Down Brothers and Shaolin. It’s about hope and rising above.
We see Zeke (aka Books) caught in the middle. Quite literally, when Mylene and Shaolin fight over him. He chooses Shaolin in the moment, but goes back to help Mylene. A fusion of her old sound and his new emerge during the ending montage as he raps over her singing. This fusion is then symbolized in their kiss.
For those of us on the slow, they cut between scenes of Cadillac in this disco and Shaolin at his turntable.
Not subtle, but well done.
It Takes Two to Make a Thing Go Right
Grand Master Flash’s Kung Fu Master challenges were by far the most enjoyable parts of these episodes. The grasshoppers have great chemistry (even Jada) and their weed-infused wackiness preceded a nice payoff when Books discovers the purple crayon’s true worth. Spoiler: not a portal to another dimension. The turntable lesson with Grand Master Flash was an actual teachable moment. Shaolin struggling through trial, error, and blindfolds before finally passing the test was amusing and rewarding.
This all worked due to good direction, nice shooting/editing, and strong performances from characters we actually care about. This is why you should watch this show. It’s got wings. More of this, please.
- The boys celebrate the getting good with the get down and their pad is burned down. Now they must return to the lives they once knew to earn money. Will they do it honestly or will they align themselves with the morally shady?
- Cadillac is a spoiled mamma’s boy with an inflated ego. He does a few lines and accidentally kills a kid. Scared of his mother, he gets Shaolin to dump the car with the body in the trunk.
- Shaolin and the boys unwittingly drive around in car before discovering the body. They dump the car and the experience bonds them for life. They choose a new terrible name for their gang.
- Mylene wants to make it big. Her preacher father is against it, but with the help of her mother and “uncle” she makes her (outrageous) debut in church. Her father throws her out and her producer turns out to be a drug-addled loser, but her obvious talent shines through and convinces the loser to fight for her. Seen it.
- Francisco does his best to arrange for Mylene’s singing career. He bribes a “producer” and pays him to make a demo tape. We find out he’s sweet on his brother’s wife and Mylene is his daughter. Who cares?
- The exposition rap.
- Real footage of the 1977 blackout. I get it, but… awkward.
- I did not know I did not know the words to Turn the Beat Around. But now I do.
- Speaking of which – more of Mylene’s sassy friends, please.
- The camera lingers on the “Flash” (with lightning bolt, no less) imprinted on the back of Grand Master Flash’s tracksuit just after he lectures on the present and future. Wally West, anyone?
- Ra-Ra is the youngest Magical Negro to date.
- Mylene stripped in church. And I shall censor my heathen mouth.
- Weed good. Cocaine bad.
- There was an actual record player in DJ Malibu’s car.
- We will not steal music and use it without permission. Nice piracy lesson, Show.
- “Syrup’s got standards”
I enjoy sixty-percent of this show. It has great performances, good storytelling, and a strong beat. Unfortunately, the other forty I’ve seen way too often and was never interested in in the first place. It’s made a little more interesting by some ridiculous over-the-top elements (Mylene’s dress, Cadillac’s pants), but I can’t help wishing it was left on the cutting room floor. This would leave more time (and budget) for what actually makes this show a fun watch.
The Get Down S1E2/E3 = 7.5/10