Wednesday, April 11, 2012

REVIEW: Magic City

Starz - Friday 10/9c

Starz's newest iteration in scripted fare takes place in Miami in the late 1950's and follows Ike Evans (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who is also the primary reason to watch the show) as the manager of the Miramar Playa, a glamorous hotel along Miami Beach.

It's well-written and well-acted, but there was something missing from the pilot.  Parts just didn't click, even though it seemed like it should.  This could be due to the shows that Magic City tries to be, rather than just trying to be itself.

1.  Does it entertain me?
Starting out entranced, I quickly lost interest in the union strike closing the hotel storyline, which was the main part of the first episode.  This is not good for a show that looks sleek and sounds retro.  In fact, that is what the show had going for it: the influx of 50's music playing over everything, where you find yourself watching Ike Evans drive down the A1A (note, I don't actually know if that's the A1A, I'm just making reference to Vanilla Ice) rocking out.

What Magic City so desperately wants to be is nostalgic and glamorous, but in a fake way.  When Ike is explaining the hotel to his new bellboy Ray (Ray), he is pointing out the perfume being pumped into the hotel.  What does it smell like?  The ocean.  Which is right out back, but in case the ocean doesn't smell like the ocean, he wants his rich clientele to believe that is what the ocean smells like, and that they like it.  He goes on to explain that they keep the hotel cold because the women who visit his hotel are rich and buy fur coats, and since they live in Miami, he wants to make sure they get to wear them at his hotel.

Again, he is going for a fake world for people who live in their own.

Magic City also borrows heavily from The Sopranos with its mob dealings.  The opening scene is underwater, showing all the people in nice clothes who have been sent to sleep with the fishes.  It's rather effective, showing us this is the world that it wants to live in.

The problem is that Boardwalk Empire already accomplished this feat, showing the mob dealings in 1920's Atlantic City.  The difference is that Boardwalk never tried to drown you in nostalgia.  It was a strict period piece, while Magic City tries to be both.

Mad Men was able to weave in historical events into the show because they acted as background to the character.  When Magic City tries to sell Sinatra as the finale piece of the show, people get distracted because we want to see and hear Sinatra.

There is promise in Magic City, but only if creator Brian Grazer is able to make all these pieces fit together.

2.  Is it realistic?
There's a lot of backstabbing and mob dealings, but that's also what I would expect in mob-riddled Miami.

3.  Are immoral actions defended?
Unfortunately, Magic City falls prey to the premium channel trap and loads their show with gratuitous sex and nudity.  The the point that it might be the most of any show I've seen in recent memory.  And unfortunately, most of it is done unnecessarily, to attract viewers and show them sex.  This is rather disappointing, since it prevents the show from ever really being acceptable to audiences who might have morals.

That is to say, it can be distracting.  There is rarely a place for extra-marital sex on television, but when it exists simply for sex, then it is definitely crossing the line.

4.  Are traditional family values upheld?
Absolutely not.  There are affairs, cheating, scandal, everything you could think of.  The family gets another slap in the face with Magic City.
Magic City combines a business show, the mob, the 50s and wonderful music to make for a decent outing.  Unfortunately anything that is good is outweighed by the sex and nudity that is presented.  This might just be a ploy of the pilot to gain viewers and may decrease as time goes on.

Grade: B-

1 comment:

  1. "the premium channel trap and loads their show with gratuitous sex and nudity."

    It is hard for my wife and me to find a cable series we can actually sit through.