Thursday, March 2, 2023



 I don't enjoy writing reviews that are negative. At times, after screening something I didn't like in any way I tend to let it go without posting an opinion. I work in television (I never review anything I'm associated with) and I have had the privilege in life to bear witness to some remarkable projects. 

A few years back I read Daisy Jones & the Six on a flight from Los Angeles to New York. I had been handed the book for free at the time. The premise of the book was interesting - scanning the years of a former rock band via interviews. After the premise - interesting died. The premise was it. Writing fully fleshed out characters is not easy. It's an art and a craft and that is why we all go wild when Quentin Tarantino, Aaron Sorkin or David E. Kelley write. They are artists for the page and they have the rare talent of literally creating characters.

Daisy Jones & the Six follows the rise and fall of a fictional band from the 1970's. The original book was written as a series of fictional interviews with the members of the band long after their initial success.    

Taylor Jenkins Reid, the author of the book, Daisy Jones & the Six has made a lucrative life of writing cornball quasi-romantic tales. We now live in a world were 60% of all men between the ages of 18-35 are single. Single in this case means there is no woman in their life in a romantic sense. Well, men aren't the audience for a Jenkins Reid book, but women aren't rushing down the aisle to commit themselves in marriage either. Marriages are down more than 50% since 1976. That's a whole lot of people who either don't want to fall in love, are incapable of falling in love or failing in love. 

Daisy Jones & the Six has no heart, no humor and no charm. For those of us who have spent time either working with or interviewing a large assortment of musicians/singers/songwriters we know these men and women have heart, lots of humor and even more charm.     

Daisy Jones and the Six? A silly and dumb name for a band. The guys in any band that took itself seriously would never have gone along with that. One of the most foolish aspects of non-reality in the whole "process."

This ridiculously vacuous title has managed to develop fan clubs. Yes, I wrote fan clubs. Fan clubs for insipid, self-involved fictional characters. Daisy Jones and the Six is bad story-telling and therefore bad television. Considering the budget for the ten episode mini-series one would have expected something a little more finely tuned (no pun intended) than this downright boring look back at another era in human history. It's a period piece and yet one never feels like they have been transported back to the time. 

The characters in the book, led by Daisy Jones and Billy Dunne are extreme stereotypes, but then in Dunne's case a stereotype that sort of never existed. A story about a short-lived success story in pop music delivers the bell-bottom pants and those drapey, near-blinding bangs, but it doesn't get the reality of the lives of the people who led them. 

We are to believe that a group of talented musicians (that is how they are described) led by Billy Dunne (Sam Claflin) are going to take the lead from a selfish, self-involved, self-absorbed, self-centered, intellectually diminished wannabe songwriter named Daisy Jones (Riley Keogh). The Daisy name came right out of the 1960's culture as opposed to the 1970's. For those that know U.S. history one would be familiar with the then famed Daisy ad in the 1964 Presidential election. Look it up. It's quite intriguing. Certainly more intriguing than this mash-up of silliness and boredom.   

The single biggest chuckle in the entire series (ten episodes based on a book with less than 400 pages) comes when the wannabe Daisy states "I'm not the muse. I'm the somebody."  You couldn't get more mundane.  Bette Davis might have been able to pull that off in 1938!  By the way, just as an aside, some gifted musical women have indeed served as muses from time to time, including the supposed inspiration of all of this - Stevie Nicks. Consequential muses in music history are somebodies. We would refer you to Pattie Boyd and Jane Asher.  

Riley Keogh, who happens to be the granddaughter of Elvis Presley has some vocal chops, but ironically enough she is not the woman who Jenkins Reid wrote. Keogh is attractive, but she is not the woman on the original page. Additionally, Keogh is too old for the part - as it was written, but then again so is Claflin. One would have to assume she got this job in large part due to her family legacy. She doesn't have the talent to pull this off. She doesn't have the charisma or the dynamism to grab you and take you on the ride you are supposed to be taken on. You need to be larger than everyone else, not just in your sphere, but in the population at large.  Riley Keogh is not that actor.   

Sam Claflin who is only interesting on-screen when he is playing a bad guy (he is beyond creepy in Every Breath You Take) manages to make Billy Dunne even less appealing on screen than he is in the book and that is saying a great deal.  Dunne is an insecure, yet arrogant jerk; and of course that is always a loathsome personality connection. Arrogant and insecure. You have to be a supremely gifted actor to pull off arrogant and insecure at the same time. Who in their rational way of thinking would find this character worthwhile?  Penn Badgley, Tom Burke and Aaron Taylor-Johnson would all have made a finer Billy Dunne. Dunne should be dynamic and charismatic - even though he is basically a jerk. I could only imagine if one of them had been cast as Billy Dunne. They might have brought a bonus to the series with their presence. There is no charm in this performance. You need charm if you are going to film Billy Dunne, because the character isn't charming, so you need the actor to make it up.  

The big killer is that Keogh and Claflin have zero chemistry together. You don't want them together. You're supposed to want the two leads together. Not that you want them to commit to an adulterous relationship (Dunne's character is married), but at some heart level you might want them together.  I wanted one of them to leave the planet. By the end of the story, Dunne's wife leaves the planet.    

The music is provided by Marcus Mumford and Jackson Browne, among several others. None of it is impressive and it certainly isn't memorable. The series is full of C level (at best) songs. That tells you the bad state of affairs in 21st century music. 

The scripts were written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber. Both have written feature-length projects together in the past. Other cast members include Will Harrison, Josh Whitehouse, Suki Waterhouse and Sebastian Chacon. 

I love music. I love nearly every genre of music and I have a particular fondness and deep affection for the classic rock era this film attempts to emulate, but this is not the dream project. For reasons that escape most filmmakers it has been intensely difficult to bring the 1970's to life. Unfortunately, this production doesn't do a credible job of transforming the era onto the screen. The concept and the weakness of the characters hinders it from the start.    

Streaming services are becoming creators of drivel. There is so much content out there and a small percentage of it is worth watching. Some of the best series currently on television are in some cases not via a streaming service. Speaking with a friend the other day was interesting. She said her production company received 200 television scripts just last year. Way too much content.   

Do yourself a favor and don't waste ten hours of your life watching Daisy Jones & the Six. Spend time with your family. Take a long walk. Get your bike out. Take a horse out on a trail. Have a long lunch with friends. Hang out with your dog. Go on a date. Enjoy life. The characters in this series certainly weren't enjoying life, but then again people so ill-informed and narcissistic never do. 

The biggest rock bands of the 1970's included Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Queen, Chicago, Journey (started in the late 1970's), Lynyrd Skynyrd and several other mighty bands. Daisy Jones & the Six in this mix? Not a smiley face, mood ring wearing, flared pant chance!

The one good thing about all of this is it would be virtually impossible to bring this medley of awful back for another season. 

Copyright The Flaming Nose 2023


1 comment:

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