Jan 25, 2016

[TV] Mozart in the Jungle: Season 2

So Tobie and I really enjoyed the first season of Mozart in the Jungle for so many reasons. The team behind it certainly put together a very strong show for a first outing and they made sure that it would be memorable for fans of all ages. And I was happy to know that the show had been confirmed for a second season quite soon after the first.

Coming back to Mozart in the Jungle after a fairly lengthy break did make for a nice change of pace, although initially there was definitely that sense of things not quite being where we wanted them to be right off the bat. It still feels like the writers are still trying to figure out what they really want to do with this show and thus there was a degree of experimentation and diversification in terms of direction for the various episodes.

On the whole it's still an enjoyable experience but the show needs to figure out its niche. It's not your typical sort of comedy since the jokes are subtle and definitely quite witty or even high brow at times. But there's still a lot to be loved about this show and I hope it gets to continue on.

Synopsis: Mozart in the Jungle is a comedy drama series created by Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzmann, and Alex Timbers. The show is loosely based on Blair Tindall's novel, Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs and Classical Music and airs as an offering of Amazon Studios.

The second season of the show starts with a lot more focus on maestro Rodrigo De Souza (Gael Garcia Bernal) versus the sense that the first season mostly followed young oboist Hailey Rutledge (Lola Kirke). And while this was a bit of a change of pace, it was nice to get to know more of the mestro's life in this manner. At the same time, the whole season had the odd narrative background of the labor negotiations between the orchestra and management .

I'll take a moment to be all silly and shallow and say that Gael Garcia Bernal is more beautiful than ever, it seems, plus he's totally perfect for this role. He manages to convey an odd softness and sensitivity in how he portrays the role but at the same time he's more than capable of shifting into something serious and intense - a true creative force of music, in a manner of speaking. The man has aged wonderfully and his acting has only gotten better over the years. One can truly appreciate why he won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy.

I won't lie about expecting more of the eccentricities of Gloria Windsor (Bernadette Peters)  in this season, but we didn't quite get that this time around. Sure she still has her moments, but it's clear the writers wanted to give her a bit more meat as a character by having her story tied more to the on-going labor negotiations. As much as she loves the music and is also a fan of what she has helped to assemble in the form of the orchestra, she's also part of the board, and thus part of management. And as we know from real life, this can be quite the complication. So we definitely had mixed feelings about how things had shifted this time around, but on the whole it was still a good thing.

If anything it felt like the character of Hailey really took a backseat in this season. Sure she had a bit The show is stmore relevance later on as her story remains closely tied to Rodrigo. But the first chunk of the story felt like they had her in a bit of a holding pattern. Malcolm McDowell's role of Thomas Pembridge also took more of a back seat this time around and it really felt the writers just wanted to have fun with what direction they could take him after the intensity of his first season story arc.

The show is still an interesting celebration of the world of professional orchestras and their own little brand of drama and intrigue behind-the-scenes. There are those crazy one-off moments that really gives the show recall value but there are also those more subtle and highly emotional moments that really hit close to home. As much as I make mention of the writers going in different directions, what makes the series so strong is the fact that we have some very, very character-driven storytelling at work here and that is a pretty strong foundation to build any series on.

Mozart in the Jungle remains a bit of a niche form of comedic entertainment, but one that I continue to relish wholeheartedly. The show has a lot going for it and I hope that it continues to build on the stories of its characters. Thus this second  season gets 4 unusual labor negotiation tactics out of a possible 5.


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