Baz Luhrmann strikes again! The Get Down (Part 1) is a musical collage, and also a history lesson in the genres of Hip Hop and Disco. The show is cast well, the characters are likeable, the story is engaging, and the music is exhilarating!
I wish Baz Luhrmann produced more movies and tv shows. The man has a unique taste in music. Quoting Kinda Funny's Nick Scarpino, Baz Luhrmann's films are like two-hour music videos! Luhrmann mixes songs that I never thought would go that well together and creates a dialogue with the lyrics! I loved Moulin Rouge (2001), The Great Gatsby (2013), and the 2009 Academy Awards ceremony in which Lurhmann directed the medleys performed by Hugh Jackman. Luhrmann knows what appeals to the common person; not just ears, but also eyes. All his movies are beautiful. He simply creates the most beautiful visual and musical collages!
The Get Down's heart and soul is Justice Smith who plays Ezekiel 'Books' Figuero. Justice Smith sold me on Hip Hop (even though I was not a fan), and his delivery of those beautiful lyrics pulled at my heartstrings! Besides Zeke, the show also tells the story of Shaolin Fantastic (Shameik Moore) and Mylene Cruz (Herizen Guardiola) - the former is a DJ and the latter is an aspiring disco singer. The cast is round by other fantastic characters that can certainly pull their weight!
Baz Luhrmann directed the first episode and defined the identity of the show. The pilot (at 90 minutes) stands above the rest, simply because of Luhrmann's direction. My only gripe is with the first third of the pilot, because it was musically busy - there was a new song playing in almost 10-second intervals... Although slightly overwhelming, the music meshed together perfectly. One third through, the episode became almost flawless. I remember not being able to sit down during the last 15-20 minutes of the pilot - it was that exciting!
The directors who helmed the remainder of the season could not replicate the ethereal quality of the pilot directed by Lurhmann, but they still did a fantastic job and delivered a more grounded vision.
To wrap up, I loved the music, visuals, story, and characters. I cannot think of any element that could have been improved. And this all comes from someone who was not a fan of hip hop or disco! Maybe it was the Luhrmann-factor! Anyhow, I give it a 10/10.