TV

Yes, Damien Chazelle Is Involved In Netflix’s ‘The Eddy,’ But Don’t Expect ’La La Land 2’

I’m sure you’ve heard Damien Chazelle’s name mentioned quite a bit when you hear about The Eddy. So much so, I’ve heard it referred to as “The Damien Chazelle Netflix show.” And that’s not to say he’s not involved. Chazelle directs the first two episodes out of the eight in the limited series (and, as you might expect, they are very well directed), but as far as I can tell that’s the extent of his involvement, as Jack Thorne is the creative force behind this project. If you have it in your head this is going to be La La Land 2, or Seb’s Place, that it not what this is.

Anyway, yes, I have watched all eight episodes of The Eddy and they are well-written, well-crafted, well-directed and well-acted. Yet, somehow, with all of these elements in place, they don’t all coalesce into one cohesive unit. In fact, I’m having trouble explaining what The Eddy is even about, even though there are times I found myself very much enjoying the proceedings. The Eddy is a very odd creation.

Set in Paris, Elliott (André Holland) owns a jazz club, where a local, well-regarded jazz band, The Eddy, plays. Elliott’s daughter (Amandla Stenberg), who is a bit of a hellraiser, has just come to live with him, which creates some family friction. And for the first, oh, 45 minutes of the opening episode, it appears that the focus on the series would be about jazz and the interpersonal relationship between Elliott and his daughter, and Elliott and the rest of the band. Now, I have heard that the songs were written first, then the script was written around the songs. When watching, this makes a lot of sense, as every time the jazz takes over, the screen erupts in sound and color and cool. And The Eddy does not skimp on the music, because when we hear jazz performed, we hear the entire song every time. I could make a case The Eddy is a musical. But…

After the aforementioned 45 minutes, a character is, basically, whacked like this were an episode of The Sopranos. At the time, I couldn’t tell if I found this a genuinely surprising twist or just a horribly out of place event for the tone of the show I’d been watching up until that point. By the end of the series, I still don’t quite know.

Look, I have no idea what the writing process was for The Eddy. For all I know, the plan from the beginning was, “What if we made a series about a jazz club and a jazz band and they play great music, but what if also there’s an ongoing subplot about Ukrainian mobsters who run a counterfeiting ring and multiple characters get the shit beat out of them.” But it certainly feels like a show that was supposed to be slow and meandering and about the music and the intricacies of each character’s lives, until someone suggested, “This show needs an action plot.”

Here’s the thing: The action subplot is pretty good! I found myself interested in the mystery of who committed the murder and the mess that Elliott is in because now the police think he’s involved and the mafia is putting pressure on him to stay quiet and get them back their counterfeit money. But it’s a completely different show.

I like the jazz elements of The Eddy. I like the “mob movie” elements of The Eddy. I do not like them together. It’s like trying to eat a peanut butter and steak sandwich. Which, you know what, for one bite might not taste that bad! But by the time you finish the whole sandwich, there’s no way you’re ordering another one of those.

So what happens is, The Eddy will have an intense interrogation scene about the murder, where we are close to getting some answers, directly followed by a 10-minute scene of a jazz band playing while people dance. Then it just stays on the jazz element as the whole murder part, well, they’ll get back to that at some point, but, until then, enjoy some music.

I’m not trying to be too harsh on The Eddy. Everything about it screams, “labor of love.” And, again, there are a lot of elements I really enjoyed. But I wish it had either been a story about the jazz club, or a story about the Ukrainian mob. Not both. Each episode focuses on a different main character, and for a couple of them, the mob stuff is soooo shoehorned in that it just felt phony. Which makes The Eddy all the more confounding, because when it focuses on one or the other, each has its merits. (Personally, I think if it had just stuck to the jazz club elements, it could have been something really unique.) But the shifts in tone … it was just too much.

You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.

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