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Roadies: Season 1, Episode 4 - "The City Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken"

Leyla Hamedi

They would drive 100 miles, and they would drive 100 more, just to break the curse that could bring down the tour in a fun episode that combines sex, former drugs, and superstition.


Airtime: Sundays, 10pm
Cast: Carla Gugino, Luke Wilson, Imogen Poots, Rafe Spall
Subtitle: Season 1, Episode 4 - "The City Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken"
Network: Showtime
Air date: 2016-07-17

Four episodes into a series is enough to establish a pattern. First one, written by Cameron Crowe, meh. Second one, written by Winnie Holzman, delightful. Third one, written by Cameron Crowe, abysmal. That brings us to the fourth episode, written by Hannah Friedman, in which we’re back to whimsically delightful. Girls rule and boys drool may not be the most mature conclusion to draw from this episode, but facts are facts, and you can’t argue with that. I am rubber and you are glue.

Cincinnati, much like saying Voldemort out loud is bad juju for wizarding-folk, is similarly cursed for road dogs because of an incident that took place there in the '70s. Music fans came, they "The Who"-ed, and they died, and since financial suit Reg (Rafe Spall) is basically a one-man Stooges act (the comedians, not the band), he goes and says the name out loud. What follows is the entire crew’s journey to stop the bad luck before it begins in a quirky episode whose cuteness actually doesn't make you want to vomit. Why? Because there's character development and motives and actual interactions, and all those things that good stories rely on more than revenge fantasies (ahem, episode three).

The crew has to drive a hundred miles, find 11 eggs and balloons on foot, release the balloons and smash the eggs, and sing a song by the Who as instructed by gone-but-not-forgotten Roadie King Phil (Ron White), who's still up in space because Taylor Swift and analogies. Even so, he can't ever ignore his Staton-House family, and so he sends them on a not-so-wild, but still a farm bird, chase. Milo (Peter Cambor) and Wes (Colson Baker) magically find six balloons and complete the set with Milo’s handy dandy condoms. Kelly Ann (Imogen Poots) and Reg magically wander into a farmhouse and steal some eggs while ignoring a seemingly dead body, but it's dreamy and beautiful and whimsical, so who cares about some random, probably not a corpse.

Kelly and Reg's sexual tension is all but oozing, but that could be the whole crew's need for actual showers, as colorfully described by soundwoman Donna (Keisha Castle-Hughes) However, each cuts the other off before they make any romantic passes, because "they don't get involved", which we all believe about as much as this so-called curse. Kelly Ann does mention that the tour bus is literally a home, and he can't just get on without an invite. Along with the fact that he's the one who said the four-syllable city name, Reg acts as our gateway to true insight about life on the road. These snippets of actual tour idiosyncrasies perfectly capture the feel and atmosphere of this life better than any spiel about loving music has managed so far. A whole episode about chasing a superstition is so simple but so telling, especially when the personalities that carry it are finally allowed to be themselves.

Meanwhile, the bassist Rick is missing after an emotional performance, and tour mom and dad Shelli (Carla Gugino) and Bill (Luke Wilson) are the Concerned Parents. All this action takes place on the crew’s day off, so while the others have to put their plans on hold while Gooch (Luis Guzman) drives a hundred miles into the middle of nowhere, so do Shelli and Bill. Their day is more of a "let's count the ways Bill has fucked up over the years" as they trace the possible places Rick could be. Is he at the strip club Tattle Tale (made famous by the Motley Crue song)? No, but the big smiles and equally large chests directed at Bill make Shelli lose her appetite. Is he at his favorite stripper Red Velvet's place (speaking of Mötley Crüe, hello Donna D'Errico, long time no see!)? No, but Red Velvet and her husband's veiled hints at swinging with Bill make Shelli completely miss the come-on. It's cute that Red refers to Shelli as his wife and Bill doesn't correct her in the latest tune from "Subtext: The Musical".

Of course, Bill had already let Shelli down that morning by not remembering their date to the local cemetery, and it's obvious she has a lot of inner struggle going on as they attempt to navigate the rest of the day. The bakery owner that tries to smash Bill with a baseball bat, although Bill has no recollection of ever crossing him, is the icing on the non-existent cake Shelli's been craving all day.

Milo finally realizes where Rick could be, coming through for the band member he’s responsible for by naming another strip club. Shelli and Bill walk in to find him in the loving arms of the band stalker, Natalie (Jacqueline Byers). Bless her heart; she never does stop believing, does she? At least Rick's alive, which is really all a bass player needs to be, am I right?

Rick is found, the song of the day is "They Are All in Love", by the Who, the curse is broken, and the tour is set to resume next week for viewing audience. That being said, one egg of the magic 11 never broke; what could that mean for the Staton-House Band and their crew? What kind of episode is up next on our trusty pattern?


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