Jump to content
Forums forums
PRIMETIMER
MsTree

American Soul

Recommended Posts

This new show on BET follows Don Cornelius and how he made Soul Train a national TV show.  Kelly Rowland plays Gladys Knight. The first two episodes aired last night 9E/6P.

Share this post


Link to post

A few minor anachronisms with hair and clothing distracted me but for the most part I liked the first two episodes.

Hey, it's Pastor Jidenna from Greenleaf. Pretty much doing the same conked hair schtick too.

"Man is first destiny." Heh. That probably worked--and still works--for a lot of people.

Clearly the actors playing Don Cornelius and Gladys Knight were hired largely for their resemblance to the the real life people they're portraying. At least Sinqua Walls can act. Kelly Rowland, no. And she IMO doesn't do justice to Gladys' powerhouse singing voice. It's almost a dishonor, I think.

Edited by Joimiaroxeu

Share this post


Link to post

Since I can remember the period, even as a young kid at the time it was the  modern slang of calling little sister "fly, but not worth my liquor license" that stopped me.

Share this post


Link to post

As long as we're talking anachronisms how about dance routine to You're The One That I Want taking place 7 years before movie was released?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

Three episodes in and I am into the Don Cornelius home and office story. I think TPTB feared it wasn't enough so the revolutionary cell police murder and the father dying like Colonel Blake of MASH on his way home seems grafted on

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
On 2/12/2019 at 6:18 PM, PamelaMaeSnap said:

As long as we're talking anachronisms how about dance routine to You're The One That I Want taking place 7 years before movie was released?

Grease the movie began a stage musical that originally debuted in 1971. The timing fits but just barely.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
7 hours ago, Joimiaroxeu said:

Grease the movie began a stage musical that originally debuted in 1971. The timing fits but just barely.

But "You're The One That I Want" was not in the stage musical, only the movie! I believe it technically "replaced" the "All Choked Up" number from the stage show. Several songs were replaced from show to film ("Raining On Prom Night" was replaced by "Hopelessly Devoted To You," for example). "Grease" (the song) was not in the show either. Coincidentally or not (I suspect not), NONE of the "singles" released from the film were in the show itself.

  • Like 1
  • Useful 1

Share this post


Link to post

With all the extra storylines (Vietnam dad/son draft, robberies in the name of revolution), it shows there isn't much to the Soul Train story.  Originally, I thought this would be about the trials and tribulations of Don Cornelius trying to make Soul Train the pop icon that it became.  From the first episode, I felt like I came in on the middle of a movie.  I thought I might have missed an episode because it immediately jumped to Soul Train already being on TV.  Not syndicated yet, but on TV.  From these episodes, it appears we will learn about Don from flashback.  Usually, when this technique is used, the flashbacks start at the beginning and progress from there.  That isn't happening here.

BET did a phenomenal job with the New Edition and Bobby Brown stories.  Those were 2-episode movies that told tight stories.  Doing Soul Train is a good idea, but making it a 10-episode maxi-series is not.  The other storylines just seem tacked on to pad out the length.  I guess this is the "creative license" or "based on true story" that is included when retelling real-life events.  The production values and acting are better than other shows (specifically Family Business, and to some degree, Boomerang), but it would have been better as a 2, maybe 3, episode show that focused on Don Cornelius.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

I am struggling with this show. It's really difficult for me to care about some of the side plots. Like JT with the junkie mama who's now an unwitting member of the Crips. What the hell does he have to do with Soul Train? Sure his girlfriend Simone and her brother are dancers on it, but he is too many degrees separated from the show to be invested in his character. Since we're 40% of the way into this show, it's time for the rise to begin with Don successfully landing the acts that firmly squashed all the sponsors' and network executives' doubts. However, it seems like they are backloading the episodes with all the famous performances, hoping the sneak-peeks will keep the audience coming back.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, Popples said:

I am struggling with this show. It's really difficult for me to care about some of the side plots. Like JT with the junkie mama who's now an unwitting member of the Crips. What the hell does he have to do with Soul Train? Sure his girlfriend Simone and her brother are dancers on it, but he is too many degrees separated from the show to be invested in his character.

The executives were brainstorming and they're grand idea was to pad out the Soul Train story with pointless nonsense to get it to ten episodes.  The brother/sister/dead dad and JT storylines have no bearing on Soul Train at all.  The backbiting/jockeying for position among the dancers is interesting.  Don's family issues, getting sponsors, staying on the air, and showing different acts (Bobby Brown as Rufus was too crazy) is stuff we want to see.  Unfortunately, that is only enough material for a 2-episode show.  Soul Train is a good story, just bad execution in telling it.

Check YouTube for recordings of the original artists (Gladys Knight, Rufus) to what is shown on the show.  It is entertaining to watch.

Edited by PsychoDrone
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

I'm calling it.  This show is not good.  The side plots are pointless and have NOTHING to do with Soul Train.  Pure filler.  You can fast-forward, and I have, through them and nothing is missed.  Two episodes could have pushed this to the level of New Edition or Bobby Brown docudramas.  As it stands, it's a period piece about the early 70s with Soul Train thrown in to make it interesting.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

I've been watching the show and yeah, I agree that there are too many storylines going on. Dare I say it, I have to wonder if that is because these other storylines serve as a distraction from the actor portraying Don. No disrespect to Sinqua Wells but I just don't feel like he's a strong enough actor to pull off "Don Cornelius". If anything, I am more intrigued by the nightclub owner. Don't know his name but I recognize him from Greenleaf. But even here, I am not sure how his character connects to Soul Train other than the fact that famous musicians occasionally come through his club.  Even the 3 teens, they seem to be focused more on launching singing careers rather than dancing on Soul Train. I did have a thought that these 3 teens or Encore as they call themselves might be based on the group Shalamar but I'm not sure??? 

I really want this show to succeed but at the rate it's going, I don't know if it will. I think it would have made a pretty good limited series or tv movie but a full on series? I just don't know...

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Quote

No disrespect to Sinqua Wells but I just don't feel like he's a strong enough actor to pull off "Don Cornelius".

I agree. However, he has the physical presence. I think he pulls off those superfly suits, platform shoes, and the big afro quite well.

Most of the interpretations of famous people I'm finding lacking. You need more than a passing resemblance and a copy of the hairstyle, IMO. For example, I like Wayne Brady but think his playing Little Richard is a huge mistake. Brady might have been a better choice for the Don Cornelius role but he likely would've been more expensive. Clearly this production was trying to cut corners everywhere they could.

Speaking of possible anachronisms, were girls commonly wearing cornrows in the early 70s or was that an L.A. thing?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
25 minutes ago, Joimiaroxeu said:

Speaking of possible anachronisms, were girls commonly wearing cornrows in the early 70s or was that an L.A. thing?

Cicely Tyson on the cover of Jet Magazine, March 15, 1973. It's from a couple of years after these episodes take place, but I think it's a possibility they had started to come back in fashion at this time.

16554a.jpg

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
6 minutes ago, Joimiaroxeu said:

I agree. However, he has the physical presence. I think he pulls off those superfly suits, platform shoes, and the big afro quite well.

Most of the interpretations of famous people I'm finding lacking. You need more than a passing resemblance and a copy of the hairstyle, IMO. For example, I like Wayne Brady but think his playing Little Richard is a huge mistake. Brady might have been a better choice for the Don Cornelius role but he likely would've been more expensive. Clearly this production was trying to cut corners everywhere they could.

Speaking of possible anachronisms, were girls commonly wearing cornrows in the early 70s or was that an L.A. thing?

American Soul reminds me a lot of an older show called American Dreams, which oddly enough was loosely based on American Bandstand. Like American Soul, American Dreams had the same premise where there were multiple storylines going on at one time, some of which really had nothing to do with Bandstand. Then like American Soul, American Dreams featured current/semi-current stars portraying the musical acts of the time. For instance, Jennifer Love Hewitt performed as Nancy Sinatra. In another episode, Kelly Rowland played Martha of Martha and the Vandellas. It's been a while since I last saw American Dreams but the similarities in storytelling between the two shows is very similar. If American Soul is indeed following the American Dreams format, American Dreams had a short run which may not bode well for American Soul. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
On 3/8/2019 at 7:54 AM, ForeverPluto said:

Even the 3 teens, they seem to be focused more on launching singing careers rather than dancing on Soul Train. I did have a thought that these 3 teens or Encore as they call themselves might be based on the group Shalamar but I'm not sure??? 

If that is the intention Jody Watley would have been around 13 when Soul Train came to LA. In real life she started a little later and a disco producer just picked up two Soul Train dancers and added a singer, eventually Howard Hewitt to tour his mashed up disco hit.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

It is a good thing a country bar band somewhere in the midwest knew the Motown song book plus.

  • Laugh 3

Share this post


Link to post

It's not believable to me those kids weren't warned how to interact with the White locals in small out-of-the way towns, especially in the wilds of the South and Midwest. One of them could've easily gotten killed.

Lol, were they trying to put a wee bit of a country twang on a classic Motown song?

Share this post


Link to post
Quote

American Soul reminds me a lot of an older show called American Dreams, which oddly enough was loosely based on American Bandstand.

American Dreams was created by Jonathan Prince, who's a co-creator of this show.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
2 hours ago, CRT said:

American Dreams was created by Jonathan Prince, who's a co-creator of this show.

Well that explains a lot of the similarities now!!! 

Share this post


Link to post

Did Dick Clark come off as  gangsterish with offers that shouldn't be refused in American Dreams? 

Share this post


Link to post
On 3/14/2019 at 5:32 PM, Raja said:

Did Dick Clark come off as  gangsterish with offers that shouldn't be refused in American Dreams? 

Not really. In fact, I don't remember a lot of scenes that really showcased Dick Clark in terms of the behind the scenes stuff with Bandstand. I do remember the few times Dick was shown, he was portrayed by Joey Lawrence. But again, not much emphasis was put on Dick Clark himself. As far as American Soul, I do know that Bandstand/Dick Clark was threatened enough by Soul Train's popularity that they put out this rival show to Soul Train called Soul Unlimited. Apparently, it was a bust because it ended as fast as it started!!! 

As for American Soul, again, I'm struggling with this show and why certain storylines are even portrayed on this show. Case in point: Flo inadvertently stopping the young man with the gun by making him dance with her. I doubt this happened so why even make it a part of the show? Also, I thought it was somewhat unrealistic that Simone and Kendall got left behind by the Soul Train bus and that they just happened to sing Motown tunes in a country western bar. 

Don is a real piece of work! I hate to say it but this show is not endearing me to Don at all. Don seemed like he was very difficult to work with and for! Not only that but he was a womanizer and not a very loving dad. I wish the show would focus more on Don himself and flesh his character out more. Maybe then I can get more an understanding of Don himself and the method in his madness! 

Speaking of Simone and Kendall, I'm not sure where the direction of this group is going. While the other two guys of Encore can sing, Simone is the one who seems to have more charisma and star power. Plus, there seems to be more episodes of her singing solo than it is of her singing with the group. The show needs to focus more on developing storylines that have more of a connection to Soul Train as opposed to some of the storylines like Briana and the soldier she moved into her home, Flo stopping the guy with the gun, JT's legal and family drama, etc. 

Finally, I wonder if this show does come back for Season 2 if they are going to flash forward to maybe much later in the 70s or even the 80s? 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

The show reached the height of ridiculousness when it had Johnnie Cochran as the lawyer for the boy that was killed by the cops.  I practically rolled my eyes out of my head on that one.

Share this post


Link to post
3 hours ago, PsychoDrone said:

The show reached the height of ridiculousness when it had Johnnie Cochran as the lawyer for the boy that was killed by the cops.  I practically rolled my eyes out of my head on that one.

Who else would it be? ☺️. It does fit Johnnie Cochran's timeline working the Deadwyler vs LAPD case before becoming a Deputy DA.

Share this post


Link to post
On 3/22/2019 at 1:19 PM, Raja said:

Who else would it be? ☺️. It does fit Johnnie Cochran's timeline working the Deadwyler vs LAPD case before becoming a Deputy DA.

Literally, anyone else.  Actually, it should have been any no name lawyer.  Making it Johnnie Cochran was contrived to make the story more relevant.  Who cares?  Much like all the other extra pointless story lines on this show, it had nothing to do with Soul Train.  Backstory on Johnnie Cochran in the OJ miniseries made sense.  Shoehorning him into Soul Train, not so much.

Edited by PsychoDrone

Share this post


Link to post

I'm annoyed that it took 9 episodes for Kelly Price to sing and that I can't find the song that played when Gerald burned down the bar.

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×