John Byrne's latest telly watch centres on Vinyl, the HBO drama set in the chaotic world of the 1970s' music scene in New York, and the second season opener of Netflix series Better Call Saul.
HBO and Netflix have been at the forefront of much of what's been good on TV in recent years, and have even redefined the concept of what constitutes television and how we view it.
The former gave us great, groundbreaking shows such as The Sopranos, The Larry Sanders Show, Sex and the City and The Wire, to name just a few. The latter, of course, offers an internet streaming service, with increasingly new content such as Breaking Bad, Marvel's Jessica Jones, Master of None, and a recent phenomenon, the tediously over-hyped Making a Murderer.
Both had very good reasons to be in the entertainment news, with HBO offering a platform for legendary film director Martin Scorsese, while Netflix returned to the scene of its big drama hit from last year, Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul.
Starting with Vinyl, there was a huge amount of expectation and hot air around this show, due mainly to the presence of Roling Stones' singer Mick Jagger being involved on the production side of things, along with veteran film maker Martin Scorsese, who also called 'action' on the show's two-hour pilot. Less headline-making is the fact that Terence Winter, the guy behind Boardwalk Empire and the writer of Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street, is also involved as showrunner.
Hype tends to be a major put-off for me, it's the first refuge for those without talent or virtue, but once I started reading through the cast list on Vinyl, my cold heart thawed. Bobby Cannavale, who was mesmeric as Gyp Rosetti on Boardwalk Empire, plays the lead role of Richie Finestra, a record executive on a permanent drugs and booze bender around the early 1970s' music scene in what was then a very grimy New York.
Ray Romano, Olivia Wilde and Birgitte Hjort Sørensen – the blonde journalist in Borgen – were among the other names that leaped to the show's defence, leaving me at least neutral before I sat down to watch the pilot.
Given Scorsese's mastery of the lens, it came as no surprise that Vinyl, or the pilot at least, looks fantastic and has the kind of energy you'd expect from the guy who gave us Taxi Driver, Gangs of New York, Goodfellas, and whatever you're having yourself.
Cannevale is pitch-perfect as Finestra, a man who worked his way up with a big mouth, a hard neck and a massive appetite for the rock 'n' roll lifestyle. His record label's nearest and dearest, including Romano as Zak Yankovich, Richie's confidant and head of promotions, are pretty normal in comparison. Finestra does his best to make up for them.
There are some fun snapshots of real people who were on the music scene back then, including Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant and their infamous manager, Peter Grant, as well as some live stuff from a bunch of lads playing the New York Dolls, the infamously chaotic band that helped to inspire punk.
But central to the pilot is a fictitious band, the Nasty Bits, led by Kip Stevens, who's played by Mick Jagger's son James. Stevens is basically an ersatz version of Richard Hell, the original angry guitarist with a ripped t-shirt, safety pins and spikey hair.
Hell probably didn't earn enough to buy a sandwich during the 1970s, but he was in key bands, including Neon Boys (who get a namecheck on Vinyl), Television, and New York Dolls off-shoot The Heartbreakers, as well as his own band, Richard Hell & The Voidoids. He wrote the era-defining song Blank Generation.
Anyway, Jagger does a passable Angry Young Man, but all the real fun and adventure is had by Cannevale's Finestra, who ends up so out of it at a New York Dolls' gig that he thinks the venue collapses in on top of him.
Vinyl shows enormous promise, but there is the fear that they've put everything into the pilot. But there's also enough going on to suggest that this show may be worthy of the hype.
The territory's more familiar over at Better Call Saul, which began its second season on Netflix on Tuesday. I loved the first run of episodes so much I called it Show of the Year for 2015. Despite carrying the weight of Breaking Bad on its shoulders, this prequel's first season danced like it was James Brown on the moon.
Bob Odenkirk had been particularly impressive as arm-chancing lawyer Jimmy McGill, the man who would become Breaking Bad's Saul Goodman. So too was Rhea Seehorn, who was one of two new characters, as she played Kim Wexler, a lawyer who is Jimmy's close friend and confidant.
As season two opens, we're back at the end of season one, only this time we get a new perspective as we see Jimmy end his time as a lawyer, and take up residence in a hotel swimming pool, where a bemused Kim tries to find out why he's walked away from his life, just as things are looking really good.
Flatly, he points out: "I've been doing the right thing for all these years and where has it gotten me? Nowhere." As if to show there's an alternative, he gets her to join him as he plays a mouthy financial adviser ( the always impressive Kyle Bornheimer, an actor who pops up everywhere but hasn't made the breakthrough - yet - as a lead in a hit show. ) Anyway, that leaves Jimmy with a massive bar tab after the three of them shared an inordinate quantity of pricey Tequila.
Jimmy and Kim end up spending the night together, which is a first as far as us viewers are concerned. The new Jimmy McGill is up and running. That's Saul, folks!