TV review: Magic City

By Columbus Alive
From the April 4, 2012 edition

“Mad Men” is obviously one of the best shows on television, but the recent knockoffs (“Pan Am,” “The Playboy Club”) prove that imitation is rarely a good idea. Enter the most recent ’60s-era series, Starz show “Magic City.” (Technically, it’s set in 1959.)

Jeffrey Dean Morgan (the Comedian in “Watchmen”) stars as Ike Evans, owner of a luxurious Miami Beach hotel. The pilot revolves around Ike prepping his hotel for a New Year’s Eve show starring Frank Sinatra.

The problem is that the hotel employees are on strike, which could mean bad PR that would make Sinatra bolt. So Ike enlists the help of mobster Ben “The Butcher” Diamond (Danny Huston) to end the strike — by any means possible.

While it doesn’t have the most original setup, “Magic City” does enough during the first three episodes to make it an interesting, if somewhat bland, show.

The sets and wardrobes are well-crafted, and Morgan displays a steady confidence as Ike. Ike’s young wife, Vera (Olga Kurylenko), is stunning and also has a few moments of subtle character work. My biggest gripe is Huston’s somewhat rote gangster, and Ike’s oldest son Stevie is too much of a cliche bad boy.

“Magic City” is a decent throwback series that could become something special if creator/writer Mitch Glazer can incorporate the fine nuance that makes “Mad Men” an inimitable success.