As “That 70’s Show” rode off in a pot smoke haze last year, I wondered about the fate of the actors who weren’t named Ashton or Topher. Laura Prepon has made her move, to the ABC series “October Road,” which premiered last Thursday. Judging from the pilot, Laura seems to have brought the entire decade over with her.
The show’s premise – small town favorite son rises to fame via roman a clef novel that disses most of his friends – is interesting on its face. However, the idea of the novelist as rock star died in the 80’s. In an era of reality television, where writers aren’t even needed let alone revered, the many scenes of Nick’s literary groupies fawning over the arcane symbolism of his only novel are silly. Combine that with the fact that fictional writer Nick Garrett’s prose is startlingly, land-fill stenchingly awful, and you have all the makings of a sure-to-be-cancelled disaster.
But I’m a music writer, after all. As bad as he show is, my real objections to “October Road” center on the producers’ soundtrack selection. Obviously, the writers of the show think there’s no life after “Free Bird.” I don’t believe I heard a single tune in the pilot episode that was less than 30 years old.
Ostensibly, “October Road” opens in 1997, with Nick (Bryan Greenburg) in a post-coital embrace with girlfriend Hannah (Prepon). Hanging above them on the bed is a poster of Kurt Cobain, but playing on the car radio as Nick leaves town is Boston’s “Don’t Look Back.”
Boston wasn’t even a cool band in 1976 when they were selling millions of albums. We’re supposed to believe there’s a bunch of teenage Nirvana fans blissing out to them 21 years later? How about some Green Day – or Gin Blossoms if mainstream’s a must – something, anything from the decade in question?
Fast forward to 2007, when Nick is back in town to teach a one-day seminar at the local college. His friends still engage in their daily ritual, a wacky air guitar session featuring Thin Lizzy’s “Boys Are Back In Town.” I know classic rock never got old, but c’mon, this song came out five years before any of these characters were supposedly born.
Did I mention that Nick had his Kurt Cobain picture on the wall of his New York City apartment? Maybe it was there as a reminder for him to someday check out this “grunge thing” – once he got through the Clash, Duran Duran and Night Ranger.
It’s times like these that make me believe baby boomers should be banned from picking the music for all television shows. At a minimum, these guys should be forced to watch “10 Things I Hate About You” fifty times to absorb the late 90’s teen zeitgeist, because they’ve completely missed the boat here.