'Thank you, Goodnight' review: A Hulu docuseries tells 'The Bon Jovi Story' The new Hulu show takes a close look at the struggle by lead singer Jon Bon Jovi to overcome vocal problems which nearly led him to quit the band.

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Bon Jovi docuseries 'Thank You, Goodnight' is an argument for respect

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The more than 40-year career of the hard rockers in the band Bon Jovi is explored in a new docuseries on Hulu. It's called "Thank You, Goodnight." NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says the program, which debuts today, is mostly a celebration, but it also features the unique struggle of the band's leader and namesake.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: "Thank You, Goodnight" outlines an almost unbelievable four decades of success for the band Bon Jovi, from early days in New Jersey clubs to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUSERIES, "THANK YOU, GOODNIGHT: THE BON JOVI STORY")

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: One of the hottest tickets around tonight and to see the world's hottest rock...

DEGGANS: But the docuseries is perhaps most revealing when it focuses on a different subject...

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUSERIES, "THANK YOU, GOODNIGHT: THE BON JOVI STORY")

JON BON JOVI: (Vocalizing).

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Good. Rest for a second.

DEGGANS: ...The struggle by lead singer Jon Bon Jovi to recover from vocal problems, which led him to think about quitting.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUSERIES, "THANK YOU, GOODNIGHT: THE BON JOVI STORY")

JON BON JOVI: If I can't be the very best I can be, I'm out. I'm not here to drag down the legacy. I am not here for the where-are-they-now tour. I'm not ever going to be the fat Elvis - ain't happening (laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF BON JOVI'S "LIVIN' ON A PRAYER")

DEGGANS: The docuseries documents Bon Jovi's fight in 2022 to sing on key, showing him trying laser treatments, acupuncture and even surgery. That narrative pulls viewers through four episodes outlining the band's journey through hit records, firings, massive concerts and more. Filmmaker Gotham Chopra, who's also directed docuseries about his father, spiritualist Deepak Chopra, and star quarterback Tom Brady, speaks to lots of folks from the band's closely guarded inner circle. That list includes guitarist Richie Sambora, who quit the band in 2013. He was hurt that many guitar parts on the album "What About Now" were played by someone else when personal issues led Sambora to miss recording sessions.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUSERIES, "THANK YOU, GOODNIGHT: THE BON JOVI STORY")

RICHIE SAMBORA: He had the whole thing kind of planned out, which basically was telling me, I can do it without you. And I was getting treated kind of like I didn't write and do all that stuff, and I wasn't the guy they talked to anymore.

DEGGANS: Using loads of old recordings, photos and video footage, the docuseries shows how young New Jersey native John Bongiovi turned a job as a gofer at a recording studio into a recording of his first hit, Runaway.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RUNAWAY")

BON JOVI: (Singing) She's a little runaway.

DEGGANS: Which caught the ear of another little-known artist from New Jersey known as Bruce Springsteen.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUSERIES, "THANK YOU, GOODNIGHT: THE BON JOVI STORY")

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: The first demo I got of John's was a good song. I mean, John's great talent is these big, powerful pop rock choruses that just demand to be sung by, you know, 20,000 people in an arena.

DEGGANS: Through it all, the singer and bandleader is shown as the group's visionary and sparkplug, open about how strategically, he pushed the band to write hit songs and position them for commercial success.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUSERIES, "THANK YOU, GOODNIGHT: THE BON JOVI STORY")

JON BON JOVI: It wasn't as though I woke up one morning and was the best singer in the school or on the block or in my house. And that's not saying much. But I just had a desire and a work ethic that was always the driving force.

DEGGANS: I saw this dynamic up close in the mid-1990s, when I worked as a music critic in New Jersey, spending time with Jon Bon Jovi and the band. I think the docuseries captures his skill at leading the group through decades of change, from the fading of metal to the rise of grunge rock, something the singer rarely gets credit for. Now, if you're not a Bon Jovi fan, this docuseries' four episodes may feel like a lot, but the program also makes an argument for something Bon Jovi has struggled to achieve, even amid million selling records and top-grossing concert tours - respect as a legendary rock band.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE")

BON JOVI: (Singing) It's all the same.

DEGGANS: I'm Eric Deggans.

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